Saturday, 31 March 2012

Cookbook: Murder of Mayonnaise (2)

Champagne, dear reader, is a name protected by law. Unless the bubbly beverage has been produced in the homonymous province, you are not allowed to call it so. Which is why, on New Year’s Eve in Barcelona or Benicarlo, when toasting the health and happiness of friends and family with an identical sparkly liquid, the label on the bottle will say Cava if it was produced below the Pyrenees. Never mind that it is often of comparable quality or even better.

Likewise, you cannot just fabricate any nice soft creamy cheese and write Camembert or Gorgonzola on the package. First you have to prove that the stuff was made to curdle in local storerooms, mixed from local milk, produced by local cows, who have been eating local grass in local pastures, and are fluent in the local lingo…

Even, as I pointed out in a previous article, yes: even German sausages enjoy a lexical protection so very strict that it makes the Siegfried Line look like a lengthy buffet of Gruyère cheese (which, to be sure, is also an appellation contrôlée…).

If all this is the case, then why, I protest with rightful indignation, is not the name Mayonnaise protected? Why can any old culinary Goth scribble some vicious recipe for a liquid goo involving eggs and oil (if you’re lucky, that is…) and cover up his shame with a giant headline screaming ‘Mayonnaise this-or-that’, without the secular arm of the law raiding his miserable study, dragging him out onto the nearest commons and burning him at the stake as he deserves? It is a mystery to me, dear reader, and I can only assume that these things go on because Good Taste is an insult in the eyes of the mediocrities who write our law books and set our legal standards. They themselves are Pizza People, Hamburger Hooligans, Pesto Pests… They recognize themselves in the tasteless cookbooks of this sad excuse for a civilisation, and they like what they see. Once again it shows that Law is not the same as Justice, and that Morality has nothing to do with Government Regulation.

In my first J’Accuse last week I denounced the use of the Food Processor. I know you all were shocked to the bone by what you read, but… there is even worse! Believe it or not: there are people who not only use such infernal machines where they shouldn’t, but toss into their witches’ brew all sorts of revolting ingredients under the pretence of making Mayo. Ah, where are you, sweet soothing bottle of Ginjinha…? Come closer to my breast, beloved friend, for you and I must continue with the distasteful task of denouncing the Crimes against Gastronomy in all their sordid details! Yes, I know it is certain to drain us both. But Noblesse Oblige! Our readers of taste and sophistication are counting on us…

So there. A hearty swig and here we go.

Surely you all remember the vegetarian gluttons I quoted last week (The Vegetarian Epicure, New York, 1972) as mixing Mayo from entire eggs in a food processor. Well, these world-improving gals and boys had yet another turd up their sleeves on page 112: a mush they dare call Mayonnaise, made from hard-boiled eggs! They suggest you put together 3 hard-boiled eggs, 6 to 8 tablespoons of olive-oil, ¾ tablespoon lemon juice, 1 spoon of sugar, 1 spoon of mustard, and ¼ cup sour cream, and then mix the lot to pulp in the food processor again. What can I say? Had they called this Egg Spread I could have lived with it. But Mayonnaise? Who do they think they’re fooling?

Yet not only today’s This-is-the-Dawning-of-the-Age-of-Aquarius egg-heads perpetrated such atrocities… Our immediate ancestors did so as well; even those who carried on their feeble and unworthy shoulders the responsibility of teaching the young! A pair of ladies by the names of A. Koopmans-Gorter en G.A.M. de Boer-de Jonge (respectively director and teacher of a Home Economics School in Groningen, the Netherlands) suggested to innocent future homemakers, in their Nieuwe Kookboek (13e edition, Noordhoff NV, Groningen 1931) the following formula for – Yuk Yuk Yuk! – Warm Mayonnaise, meant to accompany things like smoked salmon and cold meat. The recipe is almost too repugnant to repeat, but I must do my duty. One is supposed to whip three egg yolks in a saucepan, place it on a hot stove, mix in 1.5 decilitre of cream and 3 tablespoons of oil drip by drip, and then stir the mass until the sauce gradually thickens. Once that takes place, add ever so carefully 2 tablespoons of green herbs, 1 tablespoon of vinegar, salt, mustard powder and pepper, and stir until it has the right consistency. Then, to ensure that the cook will be so nauseous she will not need to eat her own creation, they instruct her to keep stirring the mass until it is cold, so that no skin forms on top of the sauce… (Hey, but wait, wasn’t this supposed to be WARM Mayo? It beats me, reader… I fear you will have to figure this one out for yourself.)

An only slightly less offensive recipe comes from page 9 of Ms Cristina Soler’s Ensaladas (ed. Damau Socias, Barcelona, no year, but I suspect the Stone Age). The spineless young lady takes a short cut to ensure the binding of egg and oil: she soaks the soft inside of bread in vinegar, then mashes it together with egg yolk in a mortar. While mixing in a ¼ litre olive oil little by little, she insists we must always turn the whisk in the same direction, if not something awful will happen (sadly she does not specify what). This is of course the sheerest nonsense (I take it that in Australia, where water runs down the drain clockwise, we must whip our Mayo the opposite way?), but this sort of mystification probably is meant to make up for the near total lack of spices which, like any good Spaniard, Ms Soler despices. No mustard, pepper or acid is anywhere in sight. Only a pinch of salt is allowed in the latter stage of the mixing process. And with very good reason, I must say!

By now you surely think you’ve seen the worst. But no, dear reader, you ain’t seen nothing yet, as Ronnie Reagan said! Horror of horrors: there are health freak zealots who pretend they can make Mayonnaise without egg! Yes! Incredible! Especially given the fact that the name of the Golden Sauce itself comes from the old French for Egg Yolk, as I explained in my earlier article on the subject. Yet there they are, shamelessly, barefaced, empty-headed. The first recipe of the kind comes from the macrobiotic cookbook De Natuurlijke Keuken, het gezonde kookboek der 70-er jaren, by one Jean Hewitt (Bert Bakker, Amsterdam, 1976). It tells you to mix 1 cup of coffee-cream, 1 teaspoon of sea-salt, ¼ cup of lemon juice, 1 cup of oil and 1 entire cup of cane sugar (!) together. Once again the blender – that favourite instrument of every alternative spirit - does the rest!

And do you want another one? Here goes: a French cookbook called 500 Recettes d’Alimentation Sainte (ed. La Vie Claire, 1977), wisely published anonymously, wants you to combine 1 tablespoon of almond mash with a little water, some mustard, some lemon juice and salt. Then once you have added the oil, you have an ‘alternative mayonnaise’.

Come here and kiss me, dear bottle of Ginjinha. Make it a French kiss, and make it a long one… So that my readers know that not everything French is perverse…

Must I continue? Oh, I could go on forever, dear reader! I know of a recipe that makes Mayo from egg yolk and milk! Of one that uses egg-powder instead of the natural yolk. Some cookbooks replace lemon juice with white wine! Some add powdered sugar, or even syrup. There are those who toss in Tabasco, or cayenne pepper, or Worchester sauce. Then there are such who ‘lighten’ the sauce with whipped cream. And finally there are those who cook Mayonnaise…  WILL YOU BELIEVE IT?

But there must be a stop even to Dante’s Inferno

Line-up of the Usual Suspects

Cookbooks, dear reader, are a pool of ever-original sins. Do not heed them. Do not follow them! The place of a cook, dear readers, is in the kitchen. Not at a writing desk or behind the lectern. And even in that kitchen, a close watch should be kept over him, to ensure he will not produce egg-less mayonnaise, industrial sauces whipped into shape by blenders, or health-food variations of a dish which, by definition, is not good for the body, although it is famously good for the soul. 

If to this you agree, then please do me a favour. Whenever you have a moment, tonight or tomorrow, sit down at your writing desk, or if you must behind your computer, and write to your MP, your Congressman, your general secretary, dictator or ayatollah, and ask him to do all he can to ensure that before his term of office runs out, the hallowed name of Mayonnaise becomes an Appellation Contrôlée in your country! Only thus may we avoid that cookbook barbarity gains a victory over good taste.

Friday, 30 March 2012

The Void...

There you have it: Writer’s Blog!

Today, dear reader, the words don’t come and those that do arrive refuse to arrange themselves into well-ordered sentences of genius.

I can only apologize and suggest that you read an old article of mine on the ever-amusing subject of Gibraltar. Click here.

Or, alternatively, check out Colin Davies’s blog of yesterday, which offers some brilliant paragraphs. Click here.

I promise that tomorrow Alfred B. Mittington will deliver again with Murder of Mayonnaise, Part II.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

The Devil to Pay

Today there is a General Strike in Spain and a sorry affair it is. Not that participation is low. Gosh no. The two big national unions can rely on a respectable, hard-core following. The socialist party is happy to turn out in numbers, to regain some prestige after their most dismal showing in the last elections. Quite a lot of normal, working people are fed up with ever growing unemployment and the concerted onslaught unto their rights and benefits. And many businesses, afraid of picket lines, simply keep their doors shut for the duration of the symbolic, one-day strike. The damage is small, and an extra free day in the beautiful spring weather we are enjoying is never unwelcome.

No, the sadness about such a strike is its futility. For no matter how immense or impressive the turnout, it will make no difference. At the end of the day, everybody pro and con will say something lofty, and then we all go home. Next thing tomorrow, the orders from Brussels will be enforced, since the once proud European nations no longer decide their own policies. An immense web of treaty obligations and gradual, silent hand-overs of sovereignty, absorbed by the bureaucratic sponge that is Brussels, make it impossible for a national government to refuse European Diktats.

This is by far the most impressive accomplishment of the paper coup d’etat of the last twenty years. Baudelaire once famously said that ‘the greatest trick the devil ever pulled, was convincing the world that he did not exist.’ Brussels has done something comparable. It has made Europeans believe it is there to do Good, and that whatever goes wrong is somebody else’s doing.

In the terms of this general strike: Brussels imposes the budget cuts, the closing of schools, the destruction of national health services. It has ordered that your pensions be cut and that you get them later. It insists that worker’s rights be culled, social security be slashed and labour conditions ‘rationalised’. It parachuted unelected technocrats into national governments and takes sides in national elections so that pro-European candidates win. And so on and so forth, until our once prosperous continent be a blend of the worst sides of the Chinese and US systems, to the benefit of bankers and Beurocrats.

Then, when the shit hits the fan and populations rise, national governments get to take the heat. I have to hand it to them: it is a masterstroke. For no matter how many national governments you bring down, oh uppity working masses, you will never touch your real masters, and yesterday's docile politicians will only be replaced by equally sheepish lackeys tomorrow.

Abandon hope all ye who enter here…

But of course, there are far more important things in life, young readers of mine. Like whether you have the latest digital toy already. Or whether you managed to secure a ticket to that super beach party next weekend. Or whether your Facebook picture is sexy enough…

Old Baudelaire – to end with him - knew well enough how it worked:

C'est le Diable qui tient les fils qui nous remuent!

Aux objets répugnants nous trouvons des appas;

Chaque jour vers l'Enfer nous descendons d'un pas,

Sans horreur, à travers des ténèbres qui puent.

[The Devil pulls the strings which make us dance;
We find delight in the most loathsome things;
Some furtherance of Hell each new day brings,
And yet we feel no horror in that rank advance.]

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Golden Quotebook (7): Ambrose Bierce on Cabbage

While on this muddled, worm-eaten continent we still keep reading the works of Ernest Hemingway, that wind egg filled with ego, few Europeans have ever heard of an American author of far greater writing skills called Ambrose Bierce. That is a tremendous pity, for Bierce (1842 – 1913?) is one of the most fascinating characters to come from the other side of the Atlantic. From birth to death his life is a long string of anecdotes. He was the 10th of 13 children, all of whom were baptised with a first name starting ‘A’ (imagine the scene if a love letter arrived addressed to A. Bierce!) He was a fine soldier, a splendid journalist, a sometime entrepreneur, and – most praiseworthy of all - an implacable foe of corruption.

Once his newspaper send him to Washington to investigate a scandalous bill which the railroad companies wished to pass in the deepest secret, so that they wouldn’t have to pay back a cent of a 130 million government loan. Fearful that Bierce’s denunciation would torpedo the deal, a railroad magnate offered him a bribe not to publish, with the words: ‘Name your price!’ Bierce answered: ‘My price is 130 million dollars. If I happen to be out of town, you can hand the money to my friend the US Treasurer’.

To end it all in style, Bierce went on a trip to Mexico in 1913 and was never heard of again. It is still a complete mystery what happened to him. Hence my question mark behind the year of his death up above.

As a writer, Bierce possessed the grip of Richard Ford and the wit of Twain. His short stories are gems and his journalism can still be read today, but my favourite book of his remains ‘The Devil’s Dictionary’, a satirical lexicon guaranteed to make you double up twice over every page. Of the Golden Sauce, he has for instance the following to say:

Mayonnaise, n. One of the sauces which serve the French in place of a state religion.

On moral questions we find such beauties as:

Destiny, n. A tyrant's authority for crime and fool's excuse for failure.

And in the realm of statecraft we are treated to telling fairy tales like:

Cabbage, n. A familiar kitchen-garden vegetable about as large and wise as a man's head. The cabbage is so called from Cabagius, a prince who on ascending the throne issued a decree appointing a High Council of Empire consisting of the members of his predecessor's Ministry and the cabbages in the royal garden. When any of his Majesty's measures of state policy miscarried conspicuously it was gravely announced that several members of the High Council had been beheaded, and his murmuring subjects were appeased.

Which, incidentally, may well be the blueprint for the oft announced but never yet realized Democratic Improvements in the EU: a European Commission consisting of Unelected Bureaucrats and a garden plot full of Brussels Sprouts. It will be an improvement...

 The future European Commission in Conclave...

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

The Book of Burning Questions (3)

Ah, fickle, fickle reader! You prove true my most outrageous prejudices against this wayward age! Here I have worked my fingers to the bone on the keyboard, like some Casablanca pianist forever asked to Play It Again… Here I offered you some of the choicest, most delicate humour; some of the deepest, most educated insights; some of the very most elegant exposés written since Mark Twain departed from this sorry world… And did you honour them with your attention? Did you?


Of the 50 posts I published these last eight weeks, you chose to visit the shortest and the silliest most often! The truest and profoundest the fewest times! Yesterday, to my intense horror, the list of articles most frequently seen on my blog was headed by the Book of Burning Questions 1, followed by the Book of Burning Questions 2. Do you not grasp, you Bambi-brained reader (I no longer call you Deer!) that these bits are but cheap trash? Okay… brilliant cheap trash, naturally… They come from the pen of Alfred B. Mittington, after all… But trivia still, gobbledygook, froth, fluaria?

Be it so, reader! Have it your way! You buttered your bread, now lie in it! If trivia is what you want, then trivia I will give you. But do not come complaining to me when the Euro implodes and you failed to convert your savings into diamonds! Do not blame me if one day the International Confederation of Non-Smoking Nerds enter your house and tell you that you are not allowed to eat Mayonnaise or neck your wife in any other than the missionary position. Do not start crying for your Alfred, when in a not too distant future uppity teenage girlies, armed with semi-automatic iPolPots, turn out to call the shots and you’re the target!

You COULD have known. But you preferred to read happy balderdash, such as the following Cool Answers to these three Burning Questions:

Q: Is there intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe?
A: The real question is whether there is intelligent life in the Universe at all; and seeing your inquiry, I doubt it.

Q: Is man an animal?
A: No. If only…

Q: What is Woman’s rightful position?
A: On her knees. At least, that’s how everybody wants her: the Church so that she prays; family-fathers so that she scrubs the floor; men of all ages to do it doggy style; and feminists so that she may be their Lofty Cause. 

Monday, 26 March 2012

Fan Mail from Funny Fellows

            ‘You had fan mail yesterday, Dedushka!’ Hannibal announced cheerfully as he dropped his overloaded schoolbag smack on top of a precious, delicate first edition Candide.
            At the other end of the kitchen table, the fair Ivana grunted. ‘Fan mail ain’t the word for it,’ her honeyed voice sternly spoke. ‘Feedback comes closer. Neither of these fellows loves you. They’re hostile. Could cut mama’s whole-wheat bread with their attitude if it only were iron…’
            I took a sip of my morning coffee and digested the news slowly. I do not mind my godchildren stopping by on their way to the school bus, dear reader. But I am not at my best at 9 in the morning, particularly the day after the introduction of that blasted Daylight Saving Time. You can’t fall asleep at night and you can’t get up in the morning. Or to put it differently: whatever energy we save in the light bulbs, we squander again to kick-start our biorhythm. But I guess the planet fares well because of the silly measure…
            ‘One way or the other,’ I spoke when at last I had made up my mind, ‘I welcome them. The great Julio once said he’d rather they printed a lie about him on the front page, than the truth on page 7. Alfred B. Mittington concurs. It’s far better the audience attacks you than neglects you.’
            ‘Julius Caesar said that?’ Hannibal asked stupefied.
            ‘Of course not. Julio Iglesias. The singer. Never mind. Let’s hear the feedback. Do your worst…’
            ‘Well… The first one comes from a fellow in California,’ Ivana enunciated with perfect diction. ‘Indirectly by way of that Liverpool pal of yours, what’s his name? Yeah: him, the  Davies person. Here you have it,’ her lily-white hand graciously slipped a printed piece of paper my undeserving way over the tabletop. ‘It’s about your last Mayo post and seems friendly enough. But there’s venom in the tail…’
            I must admit I have moral qualms about reading other people’s correspondence, reader. But a quick perusal taught me that I was the main subject of this exchange, which worked quite soothingly on my terribly tormented conscience. A man has copyright on his own existence, has he not? So I put on my reading glasses and studied the message. Here is what it said:

Hello Colin,

Just a note to let you know how much I'm enjoying your new format. I also must make a comment about Alfie's "treatment of mayonnaise by a food processor." I never expected anyone to have to mention Greek philosophers, a vibrator, nor a nail gun in the same text when describing what not to do when making mayonnaise. I can only compare his extraordinary ability to write with the miss usage of the power tools he mentioned. As we say in Spanish..."El papel aguanta todo lo que se escribe."

Regards, J.L.Q.

            ‘Well,’ I said, removing my glasses. ‘That seems positive enough to me… The gentleman obviously enjoyed the post and appreciated the sledge hammer use of the similes… Not to mention he knows that Socrates and Aristotle were Greeks… How often do you find that these days?’
            I saw Hannibal look puzzled. ‘The PM was Greek?’ he exclaimed. ‘No wonder Portugal’s in the same bloody mess as Greece!’
            The fair Ivana moaned deeply and I could not blame her.
            ‘Another Socrates, my boy,’ I said as patiently as possible. ‘One you didn’t want to get too close to with those cute legs of yours. Though he sure paid the price for his little passtimes. They made him drink hemlock for spoiling the youths of Athens…’
            ‘Speaking of which,’ Ivana interrupted me, with all the justice in the world. ‘As I said: the poison’s in the tail. He compares your writing skills with the abuse of machinery for that icky sauce… So. Are you still so positive, Alfred?’
            ‘My dear dear girl,’ I exclaimed full of appreciation for her godfilial concern. ‘If you only knew what Céline used to write about my penmanship, and Cela, and Hermans, and Linus Purseberry… Not to mention that unshaven pot plant George Bernard Shaw… You would understand that I take an insult such as this – if an insult it be – with the merriest of laughs an old man can muster! I can only say the fellow plays back the ball that I put in his court. A fair fight! I hail him as a dignified adversary. May he thrive in whatever he does…! I wish him well!’
            Sparkle-eyed Ivana watched me with indubitably justified scorn. ‘Beati pauperes…’ I could hear her mutter. ‘It’s getting late. Can we move to the next one? You´ll get enough Fair Fight from him as well…’
            ‘Of course, my wise one. What is the nature of the other message?’
            ‘A bullfight aficionado took you on in a comment to your Bloodsport post,’ Hannibal blurted out, with obvious relish at the coming tempest. ‘Boy, does he take you on! I wouldn’t dare to do so if I were in Chaves and you were here with a crowbar!’
            ‘Oh God!’ judicious Ivana muttered under her breath.
            ‘Is there a name?’ I asked.
            ‘Anonymous of course,’ the boy said with eager glitter in his eyes. ‘He’s a coward, Dedushka! And he’s provoking you as much he can! Want me to trace who he is? I can easily do it! I only have to look at his word processor subscription in the source codes of---’
            ‘Now now! Let’s not run ahead of ourselves,’ I spoke in compliance with Ivana’s menacing frown. ‘Let’s take a look at the lethal assault first.’ I held out my hand and received a messy print full of rambling language, as free from any lay-out as downtown Hiroshima after they dropped Little Boy on top of her (the text of which you, dear reader, may see at the end of the post if you click here).
            Once again from behind my reading glasses, I ran my eyes quickly over the tedious text. It was business as usual. The same old arguments, the same warped logic, the same play with high moral concepts which somehow shored up the vilest human conduct. Hannibal, however, was as exited as I was unimpressed.
            ‘Are you going to whack him, Dedushka?’ he asked with burning anticipation.
            Whack him? Why should I wish to whack him?’
            ‘Oh, only on paper, I mean… Not with a stick or so… Are you going to take him on?’
            I shook my head calmly. ‘My dear boy,’ I said. ‘You do not understand how this works. Take an example in the serene demeanour of your sister. She is wise beyond her years. She knows…! As I wrote in that self-same post: no measure of logical arguments will make barbarians see the moral light. They do not have the brain lobes for civilised insights. No place to store ethical concepts anywhere among their primitive neurons. So one does not argue with them. It is a waste of breath. We merely let them ramble, and enjoy the spectacle.
‘You see,’ I smiled from one to the other. ‘Whenever I write one of these anti-taurino texts, I hope that it hurts. And I am always mighty happy to see that it does… The buggers can’t possibly let a contrary opinion pass them by. They must react. They must pour a Niagara Falls of abuse over even the smallest objection to their beloved butchery. And they always come up with the same set of bland, worn-out drivel. This fellow as well. Just LOOK at this text. Business as usual I say! It contains each and every one of the common false syllogisms that these under-educated curs employ: The bullfight is an art… It is old… It is a fair fight… The bulls do not suffer… There is much worse elsewhere and why don’t you object to that?...You eat meat so you have no right to speak… You are a foreigner and you don’t understand its mystery… Bah! No fun in fighting any of that baloney. Been there, done that, let it rot. I have better things to do. I’m working on my next Mayonnaise post, for people of taste and sophistication like Mr J.L.Q.!’
            A hard slap of a most shapely hand on the oak wood of the kitchen table stopped me from adding further thoughts.
            ‘Hannibal: bag!’ commanded the fair Ivana. ‘We gotta run for the bus.’ The two of them gathered their stuff and made for the door. But before leaving the kitchen, the deep-bosomed lass whom I surely would have married has she not been 75 years my junior turned on her curvaceous heels like a prima ballerina and spoke: ‘So. You are not only wordy and abstruse, but a hypocrite too…?’ With that, Helena of Troy disappeared into the mists of the Minho valley…

To tell you the honest truth, dear reader, I am getting just this tiny itsy bitsy little bit weary of having to lick up to the whiles and capriccios of teenage demoiselles who do not seem to grasp that playing with Alfred B. Mittington’s patience is like fooling around with hell fire… And all that for three minutes help in this blogging business per week…]

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Prophets of Doom

There is a question I would really like to put to those fine Brussels leaders of ours, the Best and the Brightest to whom we owe the Divine Euro and all the benefits it has brought. Of course, I will never be allowed to ask it. Brussels Beurocrats aren’t there to be questioned; they are there to be obeyed. Yet I cannot resist voicing it. Just for the record. Just for the fun of it. Just so that you, dear reader, may contemplate the matter and answer it for yourself.

Here it is. Dear Founding Fathers of the Euro: did you or did you not know, when you decided to introduce the single currency, that a monetary union without a fiscal union was impossible? Or, in terms that a normal mortal may understand: were you aware that having one single coin and one single monetary policy for so many dissimilar countries would ultimately lead to chaos?

It would be fascinating to hear the answer of such people like Prodi, Solbes, Sarkozy and Merkel, Zalm and Trichet, Monti and Papademos. But don’t you ever expect to get one, for there is no Right Answer that they may hide behind. What, after all, are their options?

Conceivably, they could answer: No, wir haben es nicht gewusst. In which case any honest taxpayer will protest: but if you were so ignorant, why have we put you in power and why have we paid you your extravagant salary for so long? You are most dangerous dorks. You should immediately be fired from whatever position you hold now, and be forced to return your ill-gotten gains!

Alternatively, they might answer: Yes, we knew. That, of course, is even more sinister. If they were aware of this tremendous risk, they wilfully and knowingly endangered the lives and well-being of the European population, so as to pursue their own pipe dream of monetary union and political hegemony. One might say they were playing Monopoly with the European continent for a board, and you, dear citizens, were but the pawns in their game. Criminal negligence is a phrase that then begins to whirl through Alfred B. Mittington’s brain…

As said: we will never get an answer from these folks. They are far too important to be called to account. The best we will get is their evasion. How, you may ask, do they manage to wriggle out of their responsibility? In two ways, both equally infantile. The first is to blame someone else for the disaster by innuendo and slander, as children do. It is the banks who did it, or the PIGS, or the speculators, or working people unrealistically nostalgic to the fat years of old… The second is to heap scorn on their critics. Which leads to even more preposterous performances.

Last summer, dear reader, I spent some time in Holland to visit my old friend Adri who had just undergone surgery. While there, I witnessed a television interview with one of the Euro’s oracles, the former president of the Dutch National Bank, called Nout Wellink. The journalist was not too critical, but – given the fact that the Dutch were getting a little upset with having to pay billions towards the saving of Greece - he could not get around asking the venerable gentleman what had gone wrong with the promised blessings that the single currency would bring. Well, Mr Wellink explained calmly: it was really not possible to foresee the Lehmann’s Brothers default and the financial crisis that would come in its wake, or the way in which it would undermine the financial stability of the Euro-zone. Then he added: ‘Only a few Prophets of Doom predicted such a thing.’ He smiled affably into the camera, to express his contempt for these people. We were to understand that as a responsible civil servant, you could not take such lamebrains seriously. They were like vegetarians, or pacifists, or UFO freaks…

He was serious, and that goes to show, dear reader, that the arrogance of these Beurocrats knows no bounds. Here was a man who had been instrumental in plunging our continent into economic disaster, who had helped take the wrong decision at every step along the way, who had created a wasteland in which Northern Europeans haemorrhage their hard-earned money so as to lock Southern Europeans in a Dickensian 19th century… Here was that man deriding and mocking people much wiser than himself, who had been completely right from the very beginning! They were only Prophets of Doom

Did he know what he was doing, back in – say – November 2003? Did he not? Ultimately, the answer does not matter. What matters is that he should have known. And decided not to. Because caution might have endangered his pipe dream.

These same people are still in power and they are still running things today. It gives me great confidence in the future. Anybody interested in an interesting prophecy by a lamebrain?