Flat Earth: Po-faced Bossi
Sunday 15 September 1996
Lacking any domestic examples for what he is trying to do, Bossi has borrowed liberally from abroad, claiming he has adopted Gandhi's non-violence and William "Braveheart" Wallace's thirst for self-determination. There's a new movie about Michael Collins? Enlist the Irish champion as well!
Bossi has taken Hindu veneration of the Ganges as a model for "mystifying" the Po, Italy's longest river. As you read this, a bottle of water from its source is being ceremonially carried down to the mouth. Today a manifesto will be read out in Venice, Padania's putative capital, which plagiarises the American Declaration of Independence.
Ludicrous, isn't it? When the Po-bottling plans were announced to the foreign press in Rome last week, they fell about. "You may laugh," protested Bossi's deputy, Roberto Maroni, "but what's missing from politics these days is symbolism." This simply made them roar all the louder, to the discomfiture of Maroni. Like other Italian politicians, he is used to gentler handling from local hacks.
Surely this is the problem. People like the Prime Minister, Romano Prodi, who says Bossi poses the danger of another Yugoslavia, are simply giving him the importance he craves. Better to poke fun, like the author of a Neapolitan T-shirt which says "And God created Padania. Then, realising his mistake, he created fog."
Island of dreams
When in Japan one hears an awful lot about tatemae and honne - so much so that I found myself dreaming about them in my jet-lagged sleep. The former is the outward appearance every good Japanese presents to all but his intimates; only they would be privy to the latter, his inmost self.
Having heard these terms again and again during my visit - no explanation of Japan ever omits them - my sleeping subconscious created two islands, Honne and Tatemae. The inhabitants of one were raving extroverts, while their opposite numbers were pathologically inner-directed. Between them was a strait which none had ever crossed.
I related this to our man in Tokyo, Richard Lloyd Parry, who faxed me excitedly the other day that Honne had been discovered! It is in the Gulf of Tonkin, near Thanh Hoa in northern Vietnam. Admittedly it is called "Hon Ne", which has no particular meaning in Vietnamese, but, he tells me, "reports speak of its people being disarmingly frank about their inner feelings".
Anyone seen Tatemae? You should look out for an island full of people obsessed with surface and show: perhaps it is an ancient name for Ibiza or Mustique.
We wait anxiously to see the effect of this summer's drought on the French wine crop, but by all accounts the weather was perfect for cabbages. Sauerkraut producers are promising a vintage year, we are told.
But Koreans, those other great cabbage-eaters, would be contemptuous to learn that sauerkraut is left to ferment in underground vats for only one night. Their supreme national delicacy, kimche, is not considered fit for consumption unless it has been interred with industrial quantities of chilis and garlic for at least a month. True connoisseurs - those who make a ride on a Korean train such a memorable experience - would keep it there the whole winter.
- 1 Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
- 2 What supermodels really think about posing in the nude
- 3 People all over the world are getting semicolon tattoos to draw attention to mental health
- 5 Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
Swedish minister gives strongest case yet on why EU should stop turning away asylum seekers
North Korean defector flees to Finland 'with evidence of chemical testing on humans'
Isis schoolgirl Amira Abase who fled London to join terrorists in Syria mocks victims of Tunisia massacre
Father faces deportation to Thailand after 27 years in Britain for two 'stupid crimes'
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
£20000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This long established dealer gr...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company is the UK's leading...
£23172 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading and fastest growing h...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an experienced Resident...