The Agreeable World of wallace Arnold: Hop off you snoggers

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The Independent Online
NO LOVER of plain common sense and sheer intellectual rigour will begrudge me once again affording the AMA (Arnold Maastricht Alert) the loudest possible blast on the old trumpet. I feel not the faintest flicker of shame in using this column to sound the alert to all Britons. Beware] Beware] Your hard-won heritage is due to disappear for ever in the dark and oily recesses of a Brussels briefcase]

Before listing just a few of the Draconian edicts emerging from the European edict mountain (]) might I list just a handful of those people - fellow Britons, yet how unworthy of the name - who would wish us to put our collective signature to the discredited Maastricht document. They include: Mr Harold Pinter; Roger Gleaves, the self-styled Bishop of Medway; Mr Hanif Kureishi; David Jenkins, the self-styled Bishop of Durham; Miss Antonia de Sancha; Mr Gerald Kaufman; Mrs Robert Maxwell; Mr Keith Richard; Miss (Mssss]) Jenni Murray; Mr Ben Elton; The Guildford Four; Mr Salman Rushdie; Mr John Pilger; Mr Andrew Morton; and, of course, Sir Edward Heath. Hardly the most appetising bunch, methinks.

And so to my regular task of unearthing the more neglected diktats to emerge from Brussels:

Clause XIX, section 8: in accordance with sub-section 16, the Maastricht Agreement makes compulsory the kissing of gentlemen by other gentlemen as a normal greeting in offices, factories and other places of work. If, say, I were to enter the good offices of the Independent for high-powered round-table discussions with my old colleague and quaffing partner Mr Andreas Whittam Smith (dread words]) on the subject of acquisitions and mergers, I would be obliged by the treaty to give him a thorough kiss before getting down to business. This is what they have been obliged to do for some time on the Continent, where up to 23 per cent of any working day is taken up with the forcible exchange of saliva; but is it really a practice we wish to see established here? Frankly, I think not, and my friend Andreas agrees with me.

The European Toilet Act (1992): Last week, I explained in some detail how Maastricht would force all Britons, including Sir Peregrine Worsthorne, to refer to the lavatory by the single word 'toilet'. But the European Toilet Act (1992) makes it clear that this is only the tip of the all-tooproverbial iceberg. To bring British public conveniences into line with those of our European neighbours, the European Toilet Act (1992) declares that - and I translate - 'all public toilets in the Community are to be inspected regularly to check that they are in possession of a) Two (large) spiders and/or beetles beneath the seat b) a pool - minimum depth 2cms - of unnamed liquid around the base and c) a door which flies open at the moment of maximum embarrassment. Failure to comply will be met with Draconian fines, perhaps even imprisonment.

Clause X, paragraph vii. To demonstrate the sheer bloody- minded lunacy of this particular (or none-too-particular) clause, might I recount an anecdote concerning a visit to my local hostelry, The Dead Dog and Maggot, only last week? The landlord, Reg, a fellow pipe-smoker and all-round decent chap, had just been paid a flying visit by a crack-squad of officials from the Department of Health. To his utter astonishment, they insisted that his excellent 'Ploughman's Lunches' did not comply with European Health Standards. 'And why not, prithee?' said Reg, taking a good old puff on his trusty pipe. The officials had the sheer nerve to say they objected to the mixture of tobacco and phlegm that formed a coating over the pickle in the Ploughman's Lunch. 'But there's nowt wrong with that,' protested Reg, 'it came from me own mouth, fresh this morning]' Flying in the face of such evidence, they issued Reg with a Gestapo-style warning: no phlegm or the pub closes.

This is the grim world in which we shall find ourselves if ever the Maastricht treaty is signed. Beware, Britons, Beware]