It was all going fairly well until 1589
Things are looking bad for Europe, and very bad for France. This yesterday from the IMF:
‘The IMF calls on president Francois Hollande to slow the pace of fiscal tightening next year to avoid an economic relapse’. The Daily Telegraph called this ‘pouring cold water on claims that a fresh cycle of healthy growth is now under way’. Just a little, yes. Failure to deliver more growth, the IMF told France, would put France’s neighbours in danger of contagion. Spain, Italy, Holland and Britain? Hahahahahahahahaha.
It has often, throughout history, been the lot of France to have under-qualified people in charge. For two centuries after 1589, the country was ruled by biscuits. It must have been very hard getting any kind of decision (or sense) out of a biscuit. Other things that put biscuits at a disadvantage for the Monarchial job include the inability to ride, speak, hear, or notice that 80% of the people had neither bread nor underpants. What the peasants definitely weren’t allowed to do was eat biscuits. So the Queen Biscuit suggested they eat cake.
The biscuits came to grief when a Mr Robespierre happened along to say that not only did the King have no clothes, he also had no head, arms or legs either. But almost immediately, it was out of the frying pan and into the fire for Johnny Frog when the Bourbons were replaced by an Emperor who was a bottle of brandy. It all ended in tears at the Battle of Waterloo, when Napoleon finally met his match in the shape of a long, black boot.
As I will now demonstrate, Britain wasn’t that lucky either. For not only did a Wellington go on to become Prime Minister, by the early years of the Twentieth Century, our Monarchy consisted of tie-knots. It was, quite obviously, the beginning of Britain’s long decline: a war leader who was a cigar, and now an heir to the throne who could be a spaniel. Windsors, Churchills and King Charleses….where will it all end?
We cannot tell, we do not know. The possible next Labour Prime Minister is a small dance orchestra, his deputy a pair of testicles. Whether we wind up getting The Ed Miller Band or his Balls, we’re still left wondering who’s going to be doing the thinking. And the outlook for our neighbours across the Channel isn’t much better: their President is a country that can’t even spell itself. We have an emerging Tory PM candidate whose name many people like to spell as an abbreviation of country, but even if you don’t he’s still an illegal form of fox control.
Head north to Germany, and there is no sign of a better outlook: its Finance Minister is a small wisp of straw prone to not blowing in the wind about anything – especially Greece. As bending is the only thing straw wisps are good at, it is no wonder Wolfie Schäuble* has grabbed a sow’s ear from the silk purse that was, just six short years ago, the Greek economy.
Somebody once called First World War Tommies “lions led by donkeys”, but the way things are headed, a donkey would be up from where we are today. And we Europeans didn’t get where we are today by having leaders with any ability. But I will leave you with this one remaining bone upon which to chew nervously: the most powerful man in Europe is a dragon called Mario*. Be afraid.
* Wolfgang’s name comes from Schaub or ‘sheaf’. A Schäuble is a small clump of straw. Mario Draghi’s surname derives from drago, meaning Dragon.