Charles Nevin: Liven up the high street with a Greek euro

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Happy Monday. Ah, yes, Midsummer, Wimbledon, Glastonbury. I believe Sir Cliff Richard is around, too. The umbrella, you know, used to be called the Hanway, after its populariser, Jonas Hanway (1712-86), "one of the most splendid and indefatigable bores in English history", author of "A Journal of Eight Days Journey from Portsmouth to Kingston-upon-Thames". You'll feel every step of the way, believe me. I'd take both to Milton Keynes, designed by its hip-Sixties planners so the solstice sun breaks down the main Midsummer Boulevard to be reflected in the railway station's windows. Don't mention it.



Concern, I note, over the dullness of the country's high streets. Here's some suggestions for jollying things up before that Mary Portas does. 1. An elderly man dressed up as a butcher running around shouting "Don't panic!". 2. Recycling demonstrations. 3. With adjacent stocks in which wobbly recyclers will be aptly punished. 4. Pound shops could do with rebranding; Index-Linked Shops would whip up some excitement, especially if Mervyn King is spotted in one. 5. Mystery early closing days. 6. Hit the Chugger with a wet sponge. 7. Ask in Greek if euros are accepted. 8. Lord Sugar would close all those charity shops in a jiffy. 9. Limited sitting time on benches, with wardens. 10. Rationing.



This Wednesday is 73 years to the day since that great heavyweight boxer, Joe Louis, beat Hitler's favourite, Max Schmeling, at the Yankee Stadium. Schmeling's manager was Joe Jacobs, an American Jew; after a win in Germany, it was noted that while Joe was giving the Hitler salute like everyone else, he also had "a cigar between his fingers and looked as if he was hailing a cab on 23rd Street". Mel Brooks, already.



However bad a day you've had, James Russell probably had a worse one: having escaped from Washington state penitentiary, he knocked on a cabin door only to have it answered by one of his guards, who was on holiday. And this week's focusing thought comes from George Black, father of that impenitent penitentiarist Conrad, who is up before the beak again this week. Shortly before he died, Black Snr had this to say: "Life is hell, most people are bastards, and everything is bullshit." Happy Monday.

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