Then and now?
ITALY is in turmoil. The stock exchange is jittery. Two
groups of Eurosceptic populists – the Five Star Movement
and The League – between them got a majority in
parliament after the March election.
They cobbled together a coalition to govern, in spite of
being from opposite ends of the ideological spectrum. But
when they tried to appoint as minister of finance an
individual who is vocally committed to leaving the
Eurozone monetary area, President Sergio Mattarella
intervened, appointing an interim government instead.
Interim prime minister is one Carlo Cottarelli, an
International Monetary Fund veteran who is close to the
Brussels technocrats, solidly pro-Euro and pro-austerity.
He is known in Italy as "Mr Spending Review" and "Mr
The interim government – which is yet to start governing –
will be followed by fresh elections.
The populists are somewhat peeved at these
developments and many observers believe the elections
could become a virtual referendum, not just on leaving the
Eurozone monetary area but leaving the European Union
altogether - Italexit.
Others say the Italians will be so shocked by the
developments that they'll switch their support away from
Who knows? Italia irredenta! But they're accustomed to
political crises. Since World War II the Italians have had
And before World War II? Er, they had a democratically
elected populist. His name was Benito Mussolini. Makes
ENGLAND and Manchester City footballer Raheem
Sterling is at the centre of a storm over the tattoo of an
M16 assault rifle he has on one leg. There are demands
that he be dropped from the England squad.
Perhaps the most sensible comment came from a panelist
on Sky News.
Footballers are high profile figures, he said. They earn
millions of pounds.
But are we not demanding a little too much from them in
terms of intelligence and good taste?
A FEMALE reader tells me she was negotiating her car in the
parking area outside a bottle store when a woman in another
car wound down her window and unaccountably shouted:
Next thing a car guard was at her window. "Don't worry," he
said. "She's always like that. She drinks too much."
Moral of story: Bottlestore car guards know all your secrets.
OVERHEARD in the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties: "The
best way to hurt a man with your words is to hit him in the face
with a dictionary."
Cat clings on
OCCUPANTS of a car speeding down a highway in
Ohama, Nebraska, in the US, overtook a van – and
spotted a cat somehow clinging to its roof, meowing
Ronda Rankin, a passenger in the overtaking vehicle,
videoed the drama, according to Huffington Post. She also
called to the occupants of the van, as they drew level:
"There's a cat on your roof!"
Michelle Criger and her boyfriend had set off on a jaunt,
unaware that her cat, Rebel, was on the roof of the van.
They had travelled about 4 km and were doing, 95km/h
when the other car alerted them to the cat's predicament.
They pulled over and rescued Rebel from his ordeal,
though they still can't work out how he managed to hold
on. There was absolutely nothing he could dig his claws
Ronda's video of the drama went viral on the internet and
was followed by a post assuring viewers that all is well
with the cat – he was absolutely unharmed.
ONCE, down in Cape Town, I was driving with my wife and my
Airedale terrier. A car with some young fellows in it pulled level,
hooting and pointing at my roof.
A cat on the roof? No, it was my wife's handbag. How it stayed
put was also a mystery.
HOW many screenwriters does it take to change a lightbulb?
First draft: Hero changes lightbulb.
Second draft: Villain changes lightbulb.
Third draft: Hero stops villain from changing lightbulb. Villain
falls to death.
Fourth draft: Lose the lightbulb.
Fifth draft: Lightbulb back in. Fluorescent instead of tungsten.
Sixth draft: Villain breaks lightbulb. Uses it to kill hero's mentor.
Seventh draft: Fluorescent lightbulb not working.
Eighth draft: Hero forces villain to eat lightbulb.
Ninth draft: Hero laments loss of lightbulb. Doesn't change it.
Tenth draft: Hero changes lightbulb.
The older I grow, the less important the comma becomes. Let
the reader catch his own breath.
Elizabeth Clarkson Zwart