Comment: Two bitter blows for this once great nation

THE AGREEABLE WORLD OF wallace arnold

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IT WON'T end there, let's not be in any doubt about that. Far from it: they'll go on and on and on and on until they've spit us out of their garlicky mouths and ground this once-great nation into the dust.

Where was I? Ah, yes. Chin up, Wallace. Wipe those tears away. Big blow. And again. Deep breath. All better now. I am writing, of course, about our "friends " (please note the inverted commas - as you may have guessed, I am no stranger to irony!!) in the EUC (European Uneconomic Community - I jest!). In the past, they have sorely tried one's patience with their absurd and priggish rulings and strictures, but this week's twin rulings take the proverbial biscuit.

First of all, let's recap on just a few of the past misdeeds of the paper- pushers of Brussels. As my old chauffeur, Richard Littlejohn, would say: you couldn't make it up!

In 1982, they passed a law forbidding the age-old inclusion of rabbit- dung in the traditional Cornish pasty. A year later, when a Padstow butcher was discovered harbouring a hundred-weight of rabbits' droppings in his back parlour beneath a giant pastry casing, he was summarily fined pounds 100 and forbidden from repeating the offence.

In 1988, two upstanding women, pillars of their local community in the picture-postcard town of Petworth, West Sussex, were fined pounds 250 apiece for chaining a passing black man to their living-room floor and forcing him to perform household tasks. "No one had the common decency to tell us that slavery had been abolished," complained Mrs Deirdre Cunningham, 58, to the sympathetic magistrate. "This whole European thing is getting out of hand."

In 1991, a retired civil servant from Shropshire, who had worked hard all his life to send both his daughters through public school, was admonished by magistrates for taking a bullwhip to a beggar with dirty fingernails, thus contravening a ruling laid down by the European Court of Human Rights. It later emerged that the beggar was a quarter French!

In 1995, a Yorkshire mattress company was fined pounds 500 and given a caution for filling its mattresses not with the recommended poor-quality "Eurolining" (!) but with dead ferrets - even though dead ferrets have been the traditional Yorkshire mattress-filling for over 500 years.

For over 600 years, an ancient statute of the proud people of the Isle of Man has decreed that any child between eight and 15 caught stealing over two apples from any store or tree in or around the capital city of Douglas shall face a public beheading in the main square. These colourful events - no more than two or three a year - afforded the honest townsfolk a touch of pageantry to lend meaning to their otherwise routine lives. But now the executions are to be summarily stopped, by order of the so- called European Court of Human Rights - with disastrous consequences for the honest apple-growers of Douglas.

Five separate incidents, five further examples of the dread Euroboot stamping hard on the fingers of good old British individuality. And last week brought news of two more examples of Eurolunacy. First, the Brussels bureaucrats have withdrawn the basic and inalienable right of every living Briton to carry the head of Her Majesty the Queen on his or her banknotes. Second, they have withdrawn the right of any adult to admonish a child by bringing out the strap and giving them a sound beating.

Walking through the House of Commons last week, I was upset to find my old friend and quaffing partner Mr John Redwood visibly distressed by the currency news, the tears pouring down his narrow cheeks as he sobbed, "Why, Wallace? Why? Why? Why?" Like me, John is a patriot: in the Redwood household, there is a franking machine situated by the main door to ensure that Her Majesty's profile is automatically stamped on all items brought in and out of the building, including bananas, pre-cooked meats, towels, pillow cases, electrical goods, hosiery, footwear, haberdashery and assorted skincare products.

And out on College Green, I heard a repetitive banging noise and chanced upon the shattered figure of Sir Teddy Taylor, knocking his pate against the ancient stone wall. It was the ban on Corporal Punishment that seemed to upset him the most. "The writing's on the wall, Wallace," he informed me. "Next they'll say we're not allowed to take our machetes to troublesome teenagers and that the British bobby is to be forbidden from fibbing in court." Sad days, indeed: and where will they end?

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