Greecing the wheels of economic recovery

You know me: I like to think outside the box. So try this one on for size. Compare and contrast:

BBC: Greece bailout: Large protests expected against cuts
Greece is braced for large protests against further budget cuts, following a 130bn-euro (£110bn; $170bn) bailout deal aimed at avoiding bankruptcy.

BBC: UK public finances in biggest surplus for four years
The government received more money than it spent in January leaving it with its highest monthly surplus in four years.

In summary, Greece is utterly broke, and we have money going spare. So here's my modest proposal…

We put in a reasonable offer to the Greeks for the Parthenon, dismantle it, ship it over to London, reassemble it in the British Museum's fancy new atrium, and re-attach the Elgin Marbles.

Everyone is happy. It's a win-win-win-win-win situation:

  • the Greeks get some much-needed money;
  • the Elgin Marbles are returned to the Parthenon (the Greeks have been banging on about that for years);
  • the Parthenon is finally protected from acid rain by being placed indoors;
  • we get a new tourist attraction;
  • the British Museum frees up an entire gallery, thereby enabling it to display yet more plundered treasure.

Sometimes, I impress even myself. I bet even Prof. Alice Roberts would have struggled to come up with that one.

I'm a one-man think-tank, me.

Meanwhile, in financial news...

Guardian: Eurozone in new crisis as ratings agency downgrades nine countries
Standard & Poor's strips France of its AAA credit rating, rekindling fears in the markets over future of single currency.

It serves them right. What do they expect, if they choose to be rated by an agency named Standard & Poor's? The clue's in the name.

I'm thinking of setting up a credit-rating agency named Extraordinary & Brilliant. That should bring the punters flocking in.

I don't understand all the fuss about these credit-ratings. Remember, it was these same agencies that previously gave the Eurozone countries a clean bill of health. So what the hell do they know?

Dues process

European Commission Press Release: Commission asks the United Kingdom to pay due amounts of customs duties to EU budget
Brussels, 24 November 2011 – Today the European Commission asked the UK to pay to the EU Budget the amounts due from the import of fresh garlic, in order to comply with the EU law on customs duties. If the UK fails to act within 2 months, the Commission may refer the case to the Court of Justice.

Between 2005 and 2006, the UK customs authorities allowed imports of fresh garlic from the People's Republic of China under wrong authorising documents. They have erroneously stated that the goods imported were frozen garlic for which significantly lower import duties apply. The Commission considers that the UK authorities did not act with all due care when issuing the authorising documents and failed to collect the correct amount of duties. They are therefore held financially responsible for the loss of own resources (approximately £20 million) to the EU budget.

Wh…?

Bu…?

F… fu…!

For once, words utterly failurise me—on many levels.

JNR

Gruts lurker Stense thought it was pretty funny I'd resorted to reading washing-up bowls. Today, I found myself reading a railway ticket. This ticket, in fact:

Ticket

Notice anything odd? Look again. Look at that date: 08-JNR-08.

SINCE WHEN EXACTLY was January abbreviated to JNR? JNR doesn't stand for January. If anything, it stands for Junior. Abbreviating January to JNR (first, third and sixth letters) makes as much sense as abbreviating October to OTE. In other words, it makes no bloody sense whatsoever.

I'll tell you who's behind this. The French. I'll bet there's some sort of silly euro-month standard so that travellers on Eurostar don't get confused, and the French totally insisted on JNR for January (Janvier)—in the same way as they insisted on having that silly e at the end of Concorde. They tend to do an awful lot of that sort of thing, the French.

We Brits are a tolerant bunch, Pierre, but you can push us only so far!

The East shall rise again

The top five countries in last night's Eurovision Song Contest final were:

  1. Serbia (268 points)
  2. Ukraine (235)
  3. Russia (207)
  4. Turkey (163)
  5. Bulgaria (157)

OK, hand-on-heart now: if you'd had to write down a list of European countries, how long would it have been before you thought of any of the above?

Me too.

We are living in a new era.

The UK came joint next-to-last with our old buddies, the French. Good to see our European pals have forgiven us for Iraq. But the real shock of the evening was the Republic of Ireland's last place, with a measley cinq points.

Like I said, a new era.

See also: Don't Mention the W*r

Strasbourg collective

BBC: 'Quit Strasbourg' public tells EU

One million people have signed an internet petition calling for an end to the European Parliament's monthly sessions in Strasbourg.

No, I know what you're thinking, but the population of Strasbourg is only 650,000.