The Agreeable World Of Wallace Arnold: Keep Britain, and especially Europe, British

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The Independent Online
WILL MR POSTIE ever forgive me? Since penning my polemic against the EUC (European Uneconomic Community), I have received sackfuls of mail from distraught readers wondering where the dread Euro-boot will stamp next, many telling tales of great British institutions brought to their knees by the Brussels bureaucrats.

Wake up Britain! A Mr RD Harvey from Bristol informs me that new EEC regulations outlaw the flying of the Union Jack in public places. "When I last visited Paris," Mr Harvey begins, "I brought with me, as I always do, my 10x14ft Union Jack. Yet when I parked my Hillman Sunbeam across a lane of traffic in the Champs Elysees in order to fly it from a 20-foot pole on the roof, I was stopped by an irate French gendarme. He informed me that it was "against the law" to stop the traffic in the Champs Elysees in order to trumpet one's pride in being British. Are we to stand back and watch as our national identity is trampled underfoot?"

Distressing news, indeed. I, too, have first-hand experience of the French distaste for Things British. Just six months ago, I found myself dining in an expensive French restaurant outside Lyons (where, incidentally, I had been misled into believing I might find a good old-fashioned Lyons Corner House). Surveying the menu - written, needless to say, entirely in French! - I was horrified to find no mention of The Great British Banger. I summoned the Head Waiter (yes, a Frenchman) and complained of the omission.

On hearing that I was after a decent Banger, the Head Waiter trotted off to his kitchen and returned with what he described, with an over-familiar kiss of his thumb and forefinger, as a Toulouse Sausage. Taking my courage in both hands, I sliced the object clean in half and peered slowly inside: to my horror, it contained everything but the kitchen sink. "Mr Walls would never permit his sausages to took like that!" I howled in outrage. "Why, this so-called Toulouse Sausage looks almost as if it's been made out of a pig! Away with it, man!"

Other correspondents have been similarly affronted by the jackbooted invasion of the Eurocrats into the foothills of our national diet. Mr Dribble, for 30 years a family butcher in Basingstoke, Hants, writes in to tell me that, following the visit of a Euro-health inspector to his premises last June, he has now received a missive telling him that, under threat of forced closure, he may no longer entertain his customers by biting the heads off ducks, chickens or rabbits - even though there is nothing remotely cruel about the practice, since he has always taken care first to stun the animal with a perfectly aimed blow from his fist. "It's the animals I feel most sorry for," adds Mr Dribble. "I was like a father to them."

And the Euro-horrors continue, even threatening our religious devotions. Mrs P Robertson from Ashford in Kent, a lifelong churchgoer, writes to tell me what happened when she accompanied her local church congregation - two of them tone deaf but the others blessed with a passion for All Things Bright and Beautiful - on a tour of the cathedrals of the Rhine. "We thought the Germans would welcome a surprise rendition of a Great British Hymn during moments when their own services went all silent," says Mrs Robertson. "But instead they blocked their ears - and some even ran screaming from the churches. Never have I experienced such Euro-ingratitude!"

Finally, I must alert you to the terrible tale told by Mr J McCord of West Fife. For the past 35 years, he has been taking tourists on fishing expeditions around the Western Isles. With only three fatalities a year (mostly children at that), he is rightly proud of his safety record. But now the EEC are insisting that his boats carry notices alerting passengers to the holes in the floor - a further financial burden on an already hard- pressed business. Hard to believe - but, alas, all too true. Do keep sending me these outrageous tales of Euro-lunacy. I plan to deliver them personally to Number 10 early in the New Year - if said address still exists, that is!

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