Friday, June 15, 2012

Cigars, girlfriends, starving Greeks, hacks and whatever else floats our boat

Just how often can you write that 'things are going from bad to worse' without losing bags of credibility or, worse, your audience? I've just watched a BBC 2 Newsnight piece about the ever-worsening conditions - for some - in Greece, and it is really quite horrific. Given that hacks, and even the BBC hacks are hacks, go out to get the story newsdesk wants - OK, BBC hacks might have just a tad more integrity than the rest of us, but not much - and given that it is always wise to take what the media purveys with a bag of salt - usually - what was reported from an EU member state was simply bloody awful. Soup kitchens and, apparently, many people searching through rubbish after dark for food - after dark because they are so bloody ashamed of what they have been reduced to doing.

But I'm obliged to give the report credence and the only conclusion that can be reached is that the general election in Greece next Sunday (June 17) will really be a crucial moment for the EU. It seems the coalition of left-wing parties is doing rather well and if they do come out tops and get the extra 50 seats in parliament the winner always gets, it will form the next government. After which the shit will hit the fan. I wonder: could it really be feasible that the military will intervene as I suggested recently to form a spurious 'government of national unity'? Who knows.

That the left-wingers out for power unashamedly admit to wanting to take Greece in a Marxist direction, I cannot imagine that those with so much to lose will play the democratic card and resign themselves to the situation. Also on Sunday are parliamentary elections in France. The country already has a left-wing president, and if he were to gain control of parliament and institute all the measures he says he intends putting into practice, the euro ball game will change utterly.

What is so utterly bizarre about the whole euro crisis is that, in my view at least, the horse has long ago bolted. Here in Britain the Chancellor (a lovely chap called George Osborne who, according to one of the feature executives on whose conversations I regularly eavesdrop, is a far nicer guy than David Cameron - someting of a vindictive shit according to my eavesdrop victim who met both many times in a former incarnation and, crucially, long before either came within a sniff of power) has announced what were not actually called emergency measures to protect Britain from the worst of the fallout of a euro collapse. It was something to do with lending the banks more money on the strict understanding that they would lend it further. Again, who knows.

. . .

But just how often dare I mention the euro? Well, perhaps not a lot more. So instead I shall write about cigars. I have long been a cigar smoker and have carried on the habit, seeking out nicer cigars all the time (courtesy of the cheaper prices charged for them abroad and which prices I avail myself of when returning to Old Blighty to keep up my stock). The question I aske myself, before lighting one up is this: should a heart attack victim - mine was on May 2, 2006, a Tuesday - really risk smoking cigars? I tell myself, in that way we all have of burying our heads in the sand, that 'as I don't inhale the smoke, but simply savour it' I am not doing my pulmonary system any damage. Well, as they say, go tell that to the marines.

Yet, cigars are a true pleasure in a way cigarettes never were. I don't crave them as a cigarette smoker craves a cigarette, but I must be honest and say that argument doesn't even convince me. Then I tell myself that Churchill was a life-long cigar smoke and lived until he was, I believe, 167. OK, he died gaga, but I dont' think that can be put down to smoking cigars. My habit - there, I've said it - has even led me to buy a humidor in which to keep the latest batch, bought in the 'duty-free' shop at Valencia airport last May. These most recent are Jose L Piedra Cuban cigars, of which I bought 25 for about 37 euros. I googled them and discovered the same ciagrs, 25 of them, would set me back about £150 here in Britain. But would that undoubted economy measure really stand me in good stead when, as might well, happen, a clot forms in my blood which eventually gums up a crucial artery and brings my heart to a standstill? No, your honour, it won't.

I started cigars in a small way smoking piddly little Henry Winterman cigarillos. But they were nothing but brown ciargettes and I soon progressed to Henry Winterman half coronas. Then, in the mid-Eighties, my sister, who live in Germany, bought me a box of Fehlfarben: whole coronas which were cheaper because they each had some kind of cosmetic blemish. Otherwise they were as good as those without a blemish. And that really was that. Oh, well

. . . .

Several years ago, this blog featured all the cars I had bought. I've since bought a few more, but that list gave me the idea of listing all my girlfriends. Why? I really don't know, and I was rather affected by the thought that listing them might be just a little bit tacky. But what the hell. Who can't be tacky once in a while. So, dear reader, if you are intersted read on in coming entries. I shall not be identifying them - I shan't actually be naming them - but I shall give their initials. Oh, the glory of being tacky once you have reached and passed the age of 60. (I'm 63 in November.) My first was WR. My second, with whom I 'fell in love' was SH. Then came several more. To be continued.

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