In Guano Veritas

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The Greeks democratised Sparta;

The Romans invented Imperator;

The Christians had God

The Normans just shed blood

'Till King John signed Magna Carta!

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We've got to talk about Kate

As she vainly gropes for a mate.

Toby Fairbrother?

Would kill Brian, and her mother,

And geese would wreck the estate!

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Posted over two weeks ago!

Not much changes, does it?

The prospect of "Grexit" is being pumped through the bodies economic,  politic, and philosophic of Europe.

La Garde seems to have washed her hands of the problem because the IMF can't stand the idea of doing things differently for once and thereby setting a precedent.

So it's Europe's problem and that means it's Merkel's problem.

The body economic in Europe feel much the same as the IMF, they want to wash their hands too. But the economics are pretty clear: nobody any longer thinks of the debt in purely economic terms. One way or another it's going to get written off, in part or in whole, rescheduled over a couple of centuries, eased by Russia, or it may get lost in a mixture of all three in the political muddle that will be with us over the next couple of months in the event of a default.

The problem is that it's now gone beyond economics and even politics, even the EU's penchant for incomprehensible political solutions. It's now becoming personal and that means dirty.

The press and media (see Bild's double speak today) are not on the side of solutions, they want a drama, and some of them are playing up the Greek storyline in the EU soap opera because they have nothing to go on. They have personalised the debt.

A Bloomberg poll suggests 51% of Germans want Greece out of the Euro while 41% want it to stay in. That view has been informed not so much by rational debate as by seeing, reading and listening to coy correspondents recording their strangely uninformative, torpid stories (always delivered with excitement though) against a backdrop of the unimaginably costly hotels, shiny black cars, travel details, group photographs and videos of our leaders.

Surely Merkel has made her decision. She's looked at the abyss and decided now is a bad time for an apocalypse. She's waiting until the Greek government is firmly stretched out on the rack, then she'll wait until the last second before Greece defaults, and everybody else is exhausted, before serenely producing her solution when the Greek government can't take the credit?

Merkel and Tsipris both want all the credit now. That's why it's now personal. It's squirmy, payback and legacy time.

Remember, Merkel works for the German people. I think her strategy is to blink last, then beat up the Greek government, especially Tsipras and Varoufakis, then save their Greek people from their own vanquished, "obdurate" government, all to the applause of the press and media, especially in Germany.

The backdrop will be to portray the Greek people positively, diverting opinion from Bad Greeks to Good Greece, in particular the people saving lives in Lesbos, the brave Greeks shouldering the refugee burden on EU's rocky shores.

Imagine Default. Imagine the outcry the Greek government could make if it was forced to default while it's people were saving lives of refugees. It would bind the government and people together while the rest of Europe (including Germany) would be cast as unfeeling skinflints letting desperate people drown as they struggle from the waves. Interesting that there is a  story this morning that Germany is going to take more refugees, especially well-trained Syrian professionals, engineers, managers and doctors.

And Britain. All this makes Farage, Cameron, limping Labour and the British press look mean, negative and ill-informed. (We need engineers, managers and doctors after all.)

The British people seem to want to play a positive role in Europe and in the Mediterranean refugee calamity. We should do more than send HMS Bulwark (brilliant and utterly professional though their crew is). But the minimalist and carping policies of BritGov are being determined by a weak PM having to cuddle up to 80 odd fruit-cake, loony right wing Tories.

We are losing the attention of Merkel and others we need in Europe not because of our demands but because Britain is seen to be confused and weak something which no amount of caterwauling about our economy will change.

We are seen as weak because Cameron has turned double speak, muddle and U-turnery into an art. Merkel will treat us as she treats the Greeks - as people without too many options while she has the time to let us hang ourselves.

She is keeping her loonies quiet by much more subtle means and through the power of personal presence. Cameron makes her look powerful, and she'll exploit that while Cameron makes Nicola Sturgeon look powerful.

We need a new PM, like Greece.

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At Last! There seems to be just a hint of common sense and imagination being applied to the Greek bailout. Angela Merkel appears to be saying there has to be movement and is big-minded enough to take the first step towards ending the fatuous impasse. I would not like to be paying Herr Schäuble's bar bill this evening!

Just perhaps, the trench warfare will begin to look as daft to the participants on both sides as it does fto us as spectators. Watch the "do nothing but demand Greek submission" brigade scramble to take the credit. But if crisis is replaced by some kind of compromise it will be Tante Angela who will have done it.

Financial markets seem to agree, rising today because she has decided to deliver a deal. But whether bankers can now help Greece survive is going to be the next big question.

The pantomime horse that is the Greek government will scream "victory" but the deal emerging is one that they are going to have to make work. Are they just going to go on posturing or are they going to react positively to the cold wind that will be blowing along the Athens corridors soon.

It's going to be a hard Greek summer without much love and much less immediate reward.

If there is respite, then enjoy it while you can Tante Angela!


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Charles Kennedy

For all the wrong reasons we have been widely reminded of Charles Kennedy’s sobriquet,  “chatshowcharlie” this week. Well, nothing wrong with that is there. Being good on television is, after all, what most politicians aspire to be. But the absurdly derisive undertone in the nickname hints at timidity, at a fear of coming second in the trials of political natural selection.

Charles Kennedy was more relaxed than any other politician, more entertaining than most television presenters, funnier than most comedians and above all, happily truthful and original. He happily courted unpopularity, then harvested the popularity that went with being on the right side of most arguments which irked lesser folks in the process. He was good on TV because he was on top of what he was saying, never labouring under the self-inflicted burden of confused meaning.

Charles Kennedy had a brain the size of a car park and he used it without apparent effort. Invisible intellectual sharpness made producers of edgy, tricky or live TV,  confident. And he made audiences happy: they had a friend in genius, a one-man, witty Wikipedia, as a university Rector or a Cheshire Cat he could inform, educate, entertain, amuse and make people smile, all at once.

With Charles Kennedy, life was safe and secure; people believed him, and when he came on TV people wanted to hear what he had to say. He was engaging, not electronic wallpaper, and he appealed across class, nationality and status. That is why producers and presenters loved having him on their shows. Without him on TV politics will be more uncertain. But as this week’s shock to the system slowly fades, and as the talent is lost from our screens, the smile will linger.

Two BBC programmes marked his passing with compilations. All too briefly they reminded me that rounded and gentle people do still exist in politics. There were tears before bedtime as Andrew Neil on This Week and Jack Dee on Have I got News for You? captured the awkward national mood of sadness, loss and celebration.

“Night, Night, Charlie, don’t let the angels bite!” said Andrew Neil, having described Charles Kennedy warmly as part of his team.

“Here’s a friend who always had the right attitude even when he didn’t have one!” said Jack Dee, one of the few men more laid back than Charles Kennedy, as he introduced the clips.

The last HIGNFY clip demonstrated just what a terrifying nemesis in the brainpower department Charles could be. Having tried to escape the skewering Kennedy wit on the fate of bankers, Jeremy Clarkson had tried vainly to disengage by claiming not to understand Charles’s pronunciation of the word “Tory.” The more Kennedy persisted, the more Clarkson parried, parroting, with increasing lameness: “I don’t understand, I don’t understand…”

It was the truth. He genuinely didn’t understand, and with perfect timing, Kennedy administered the coup de grace to great applause:

“ Don’t worry Jeremy, most people watching this in Scotland can’t understand voting Tory either!”

Great stuff. Great mind. Great public servant. Gentle man.

Ivan Rendall

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Just occasionally we glimpse people who are just good. Charles Kennedy was one of them and he graced our skies by blazing across them all too briefly, sadly the fate of more than a few genius people you wish would run the world for us. Great life.

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Good Lord!

I'd no sooner posted the previous blog than the news came on the radio that Blatter had resigned. The power!!!!

The first thought was: Hooray!

The second: Why not last Friday, before the vote?

The third: He's been pushed!

The fourth: Who pushed him? FBI? Putin? Dark Forces? South African FA? 

The fifth: Will his daughter stand?

The sixth: Who will investigate? Quis cusdodiet custodes?

The seventh: Is he about to be hauled in by US Loretta Lynch?

The eigth: Will he get huge payoff?

The ninth: Is FA a help or a hindrance to process?

The tenth: Who is the best candidate?

Whatever else, Loretta Lych should be drawn to the attention of the Pope as a miracle worker: she's achieved more in a few days than thousands of men in thirty years. Shame she can't run FIFA! Better if she runs for US President.

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While President Joseph "Sepp" Blatter

Grows richer, more powerful and fatter,

His FIFA-fed chums,

Are still doing sums

For the G-Men, over tea and a natter!

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BBC Trending reports that some 500 Russian Women have posted selfies at #WrinkledWomen (in Cyrillic letters). All the photos are of wrinkled up female faces. The women are protesting at the crass masculinity of Putin's cult of "manliness" which is sweeping Russia.

The protest was sparked off by a 47 year-old Russian police chief in Muslim Chechnya who has just gone through an arranged marriage with a 17 year old girl. He is already married so she is his second wife, a status denied him in Orthodox Russia.

In response, Putin's Children's Ombudsman relies on a novel, not to say exotic rationale in defence of the marriage: that women reach sexual maturity younger in Caucasia and that they reach a state of wrinkleless at 27 normally associated with 50 year old women. The dictator of Chechnya demanded that men "stop their wives using What's Up App".

Well, look out Alina Kabaeva, 32, Putin's ex-gymnast, apparently Caucasian girlfriend who, according to the Moscow rumour mill is pregnant and may have already produced one child for Putin. If so, let's hope they are both girls and that Vladdo is not trying for a male heir, like Plantagenet kings or Henry 8th, and prepared to sacrifice all just to have a prince.

I wish his daughters no harm, indeed I wish then all happiness, but changing the way of finding rulers of Russia to primogeniture would be another step back.

Women of the World: post selfies or wrinklies, direct to @Putin and any Russian sites that are open to you. I would, but I'm male, 68, have a beard and am not a Chechen.

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