Bite that golden guinea
BAYERN Munich stadium was a cauldron of emotion as Chelsea snatched the European Cup. Twickenham cheered itself hoarse as Leinster ran away with it for the Heineken Cup. At Lord's, England were in the driving seat against the West Indies.
Very soon the Olympic Games start in London. Queen Elizabeth's diamond jubilee celebrations are getting into full swing.
Who would have thought Europe is facing a financial/economic crisis potentially as serious as the Great Depression of the thirties?
A feature of this crisis is that nobody seems able to fully explain how it happened, what can be done about it or indeed where it will end. The learned economists are silent. The talk emanating from the G8 summit is bravely upbeat yet empty.
How did it begin? Was it geekish commodity brokers who brought down the system by using computer technology to create and sell derivatives of betelnut from Gujarat, tequila from Mexico and nannygoat manure from Zululand?
Do we respond by conducting international finance in future with golden guineas that you bite to test their gold content?
What does Marx have to say about it? He says capitalism "dispels all fixity and security in the situation of the labourer it constantly threatens ... to snatch from his hands his means of subsistence, and ... make him superfluous. We have seen ... how this [class] antagonism vents its rage ... in the incessant human sacrifices from among the working class, in the most reckless squandering of labour power and in the devastation caused by a social anarchy which turns every economic progress into a social calamity."3
Er, yes. I've always thought that. But maybe Wilkins Micawber in Dickens's David Copperfield hits the nail on the head: "Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery."
Yep, that could be it. Countries like Greece and the whole of Europe have been spending more than they have. The chickens are coming home to roost. The contagion could well spread.
What do we do? Well, there's always football, rugby and cricket.
INVESTMENT analyst Dr James Greener is not entirely bowled over, in his latest grumpy newsletter, by President Zuma's frank admission that the government is slow to pay its bills.
"It really was quite unnecessary for our Pres to point out that his government is not paying its bills timeously. Far better if he had spent the time knocking heads together in his administration and got them to do their jobs.
"The difficulty is that many of us suspect that the bills don't get paid because the money has gone missing and not just because the clerk can't find the cheque book and a pen."
OVERHEARD in the Street Shelter for the Over-40s: "My credit card's been stolen but I haven't reported it. The thief's spending much less than my wife."
Gac mops it up
IF YOU VISIT Columbia University, in the US, you can always make small talk about Virgil and Ovid with the fellow with the bucket and mop.
Gac Filipaj, a refugee from the civil war when Yugoslavia disintegrated, has worked for 20 years as a cleaner at the Ivy League university. Now he has graduated with a degree in Classics after a 14-year study programme integrated with his work.
Filipaj was warmly applauded by dons and fellow-students as the degree was conferred. He plans now to study for a Master's.
"As the warm water sloshes like a tidal wave across the flooring, gleaming and polished like the feathers of a diving comorant; as the suds gather like a descending avalanche of snow and with a swoosh of the mop as of an eagle's swift descent through the air " it's known as the Virgilian simile.
TWO HUNTERS are swapping yarns in a lodge.
"What do you hunt mainly?"
"Unicorns? Wow, that specialised stuff."
"Sure is. You have to attract them. The funny thing is, they're attracted to virgins. You set down a virgin there in the forest and wait for a unicorn to come along.
"Wow, there can't be too many of them."
"Right. There aren't too many unicorns either."
I don't know anything about music. In my line you don't have to.