Spot the shit
Actually, it’s a trick question because there is not one, but three shits in the picture: the chap in the middle, the - admittedly very attractive and hugely shaggable - woman on the left, and the woman on the right, one Valerie Rottweiler, also known (especially to her predecessor in Francois Hollande’s bed, Segolene Royal) as La Bitch and La Vache. And if Hollande is puffing out his cheeks because he’s feeling a tad exhausted, well, I think by now we all know why.
Can’t say much else about the woman on the left because I don’t know much about her, but I can’t imagine she is as pure as the driven snow. For the record, I am not against men and women (and men and men, and women and women) splitting up, but if children are involved, as far as I am concerned all bets are off until those children are independent adults.
Mme Rottweiler knew exactly what she was doing when she decided to open her legs to Hollande. I have no idea of the state of the relationship between Hollande and Royal, but as they had four children together, it can’t have been all that bad. So I think it is a fair bet that Mme Rottweiler is the fly in the ointment. Which is why there is a delicious poetic justice about her now feeling quiet how horribly it is to be betrayed.
She says she is ‘prepared to forgive’ Hollande. I bet she is, but I also bet at heart she is not prepared to give up the trinkets and baubles being the consort of France’s secular king bring her, nor the trips abroad, her state-funded private office and the rest. I think we should take the ‘hospitalisation’ after ‘collapsing’ with several grains of salt. Old boot.
Spot the wronged woman
‘Are you seeing anyone else?’
. . .
While France tears itself apart on the question of whether or not its President should be allowed to keep private exactly where he dips his wick, we here in Old Blighty are preoccupied with rather more mundane, not to say less trivial matters.
We have started yet another round of agonising over the European Union and matters relating to the EU. This time it isn’t outrage over the huge chocolate mountains they insisted on erecting in The Netherlands to protect French farmers (or something) which gave us all sleepless nights in the early Eighties, nor can we blame our patriotic insomnia on any of the other 101 whacky decisions coming out of Brussels. This time it’s serious.
Apparently, those horrible bureaucrats, all employed on several hundred thousand euros a year, are insisting that if we British have any decency and fellow feeling to speak of, we must stick to the agreement and not only allow our country to be overrun by Bulgarians and Romanians – that’s not up for debate - but also ensure that each and every one of them is given a bus pass, a council house and an Argos giftcard! We agreed, so it’s settled! At least that’s how they see it.
From here in Old Blighty it looks mighty different: we KNOW for a fact – and I’m certain we will eventually find proof of some kind or other – that those Bulgarians and Romanians are all up to now good and will spell nothing but trouble in this green and pleasant land! To a man and woman they will disrupt everything which is decent in Britain! Not only will the clog up our schools and hospitals and upset our Asians and West Indians, they will most certainly start doing all our building and plumbing, and where will that leave our Polish friends, who have been doing sterling work in those areas since I don’t know when! And who has the gall to push us around and tell us what to do! Those bloody eurocrats, that’s who! And so it goes on, year in, year out.
My own view of the European Union is not what it is, but what it has become: a horribly bloated, thoroughly inefficient and ultimately self-serving monolith which is well past its sell-by date. Ideally I should like to see it deflated and return to something it was intended to be all those years ago. But that isn’t the point of this entry, either. The point is that, in a sense, there is no EU. In that sense there are, in fact, several EUs, tens of them, possibly hundreds of them. There are as many EUs as there are people who have an opinion about the EU and its role in Europe. But that is not actually good news. For every Nigel Farage and swivel-eyed UKIP stalwart at the bar, there will be some ejit who thinks the EU is quite possibly the nearest most of us in Europe will come to Heaven On Earth. Or at least it could be if we all pulled together and stopped rocking the boot.
There will be others who – though they will never admit to it – who work for the EU and regard it as a source of a personal prosperity they could only have dreamed off when they were still scummy post-grad students busily writing their Phd on some obscure aspect of sociology or political science. Then there will be other EU employees who, though not badly paid, are most certainly not in it for the money, but sincerely believe that getting the various countries and the organisations of those various countries to work together and co-operate will improve the lives of millions in Europe.
That is just four conceptions of the EU, all different. And for each of those four there will be tens of others. Until a few years ago, the Irish, the Spanish, the Greeks, the Portuguese and others will have seen the EU as the builders of the infrastructure which made their countries better place in which to live. Many of them will now have changed their view.
Nowhere will any of us get a neutral, objective account of what the EU is and what is wants to achieve. I have heard several documentaries on BBC’s Radio 4 (which, according to many, is ‘lefty’ and ‘left-wing’ and ‘pro-EU’) detailing huge corruption involving EU money, especially in Southern Europe and the former Communist bloc.
It is not denied by Brussels that the EU’s accounts have never been signed off because its accountants were never satisfied that all its expenditure could be accounted for. There are a many stories of how employees were hounded out of office for doggedly pursuing stories of corruption. There are innumerable stories of MEPS simply turning up at the expenses office, signing on the dotted line, then buggering off again, one day’s ‘attendance allowance’ richer.
But nor should we forget the EU’s achievements: the scurvy Med countries might now well be in the shit financially (though some are said to be emerging from the worst – and it has to be said that they were all the architects of their own misfortunes) but they now have, at the very least, roads to be proud off where before things weren’t quite as bright and breezy (and one hopes they will keep those roads well-maintained so they do last a while). Those roads are just an example of what the EU has achieved despite its other batty and moronic inclinations.
I can well do without all the brave post-hippy ‘wouldn’t it be nice’ talk of a United States of Europe which, as far as I am concerned, is sheer pie in the sky. I could also do without a certain distinctly undemocratic tendency in Brussels, many parts of which, I suspect, feel that the end really can justify the means. I feel that domestic politics in each of the 27 member states will ensure that the drive to ‘an ever closer’ Europe will end up in the sand, and that the EU will be cut back down to size. I just hope that when that happens the baby isn’t thrown out with the bathwater.