6 August 2011

The first cuckoo?

It would be hard for me to get by without Radio 4. Apart from real ale, it was the only good reason for not emigrating. Now that it’s easy to listen to Radio 4 almost anywhere in the world, the beer is the one thing worth staying in England for.
Obviously, it isn’t perfect. The Archers, about three-quarters of the ‘comedies’, Any Questions, Paul Gambiccini . . .
But such horrors are outnumbered by its riches; In Our Time, Document, Ed Reardon’s Week, FOOC, The Long View . . . Not to mention Charlotte Green.
It is rare that Today can be counted among the riches.
But this morning I heard a couple of items about the Eurozone crisis that had me swooning with joyful amazement. Firstly there was Steve Evans, the Berlin correspondent, commenting on German disillusionment with the Euro. Such expressions as ‘increasing disenchantment’ and ‘hardening of attitudes’ passed his lips.
That however, was only a taster, an hors d’oeuvre.

4 August 2011

Not cricket?

The England versus India test series is proving something of a disappointment. Hailed as the contest to decide the world’s leading test side, India just aren’t putting up enough fight.
Not only that, but Sachin Tendulkar still hasn’t got his hundredth international hundred.

There can hardly be a lover of the game, anywhere in the world, who doesn’t want the Little Master to pass that milestone. He is not only a great cricketer

27 July 2011

What are they so frightened of?

Amazing, but true. Greece has 160,000 personnel under arms. Full time. And no less than 400,000 when you add in all the reservists and the paramilitaries. Little Greece, with its population of 11 million, has something like the world’s 30th largest armed forces.
            The oddity of this is made clearer when the Hellenic military is contrasted with more typical democratic armies. That some countries – such as North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran and Myanmar – have exceptionally large armies is hardly a startling revelation. But surely no EU member state would want to be bracketed with Iran and Myanmar?

20 July 2011

Sod democracy! The project must advance!

In an article that would be funny if it wasn't so wicked in the Guardian's Comment is Free section, an academic called Stephanie Blankenburg argues that now is the time for the EU elite to advance their project. The only possible solution to the Greek debt crisis, she declares, is for full political union.
          Ms Blankenburg wears her heart on her sleeve. She tops and tails the article with a wholly irrelevant attack on Cameron over the News International phone hacking scandal. Quite what it's got to with remainder of her piece is unclear. Probably she only thought she had to put it in to prove her credentials, and to persuade any remaining broad left sceptics of political union that as she is anti-Tory she must be on the side of the angels.
          On its own - fanatically authoritarian - terms,

19 July 2011

The Napoleon of Fleet Street?

'. . . it is better to be impetuous that circumspect; because fortune is
a woman and if she is to be submissive it is necessary to beat and coerce her.'
Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince.

Truth to tell, I've never beaten and coerced a woman, let alone fortune. So much for my qualifications.
          Yet I couldn't help thinking of Old Nick when I learnt that, writing in the FT, Lord Black of Crossharbour had compared Murdoch to Napoleon. Both 'great bad men' apparently.
          Black's article is full of the most vituperative comment on Murdoch. One rather gets the impression that as he penned it, he was spitting out many years' accumulation of pent-up rage. Oddly, or perhaps not so oddly,