What is to follow may offer the people of Greece little consolation, but amid the traumatic uncertainties this much is sure. Never before has nominative determinism (the cod scientific theory that names can dictate one’s destiny) known a greater champion than a commentator on Greece’s economic nightmare, and it never will again.
Anyone who recalls that Buzz Aldrin’s mother’s maiden name was Moon will think the claim absurd. So will fans of Igor Judge, the former Lord Chief Justice, or Chris Moneymaker, who entered the 2007 WSOP poker event via a $10 online satellite and took the $2,500,000 first prize. Those who remember the happy days when Durex’s public relations officer in France was one Mlle Cecile Hardon will also take some persuading.
And so to the Athens-dwelling contributor of a series of articles about the economic cataclysm. When he appeared on the New Statesman website last week considering the referendum, he began with a sadly familiar anecdote. “I went to bed at 4am and woke up at 9am. With my 10-year-old son in tow, I drove off in search of an ATM, and we only found one that still had cash after visiting eight. We stood in line behind an elderly man. When he’d completed the transaction, he showed me his receipt. There were €13 left in his account.”
How the author found time to write, given that Greece’s hideous economy compels him to boost his high school history teacher income by moonlighting as a construction worker, is a minor miracle. Then again, what self-respecting Greek could resist the siren song of Fate when she comes calling in the clothes of nominative determinism? At first sight the byline seemed too impossibly perfect, in a Restoration Comedy character kinda way, that I took it for a sobriquet. However, research later confirmed that the name long pre-dates Greece’s debt-related armageddon. Anyway, we wish the Hellenic Republic all the best in the tumultuous times ahead, and look forward to further analysis from the pen of Evel Economakis.
John’s death frustrated Paul
Almost 25 years after the event, Paul McCartney continues to suffer grievously over John Lennon’s death. “When John got shot, apart from the pure horror of it,” admits Sir Paul, sweetly relegating the event to a parenthesis, “the lingering thing was, ‘OK, well now John’s a martyr. A JFK’. So what happened was, I started to get frustrated because people started to say, ‘Well, he was The Beatles’.” Paul’s generosity of spirit always impresses, and this may his most gracious utterance since rebuking a dining companion who ordered a steak with the thought that eating meat is “like what Hitler did to the f****** Jews.”
Beige allowed at Wimbledon
Having enjoyed Dustin Brown’s flamboyant Wimbledon defeat of Rafael Nadal I was surprised by the muted response in the press. Where this electrifying display demanded the purplest of prose, it was met with beige, and nowhere more so than in The Times. “This was not tennis,” observed Matthew Syed. “It was Picasso painting Guernica, Joyce writing Dubliners; it was anybody who has ever stepped into a forum that has a long, rich history and defying every last bit of it.” Syed may have pleased former Times colleague Simon Barnes, the laureate of unpretension who described Roger Federer as “every bit as myriad minded as Shakespeare”. But those of us who look for cultural learning worn lightly in our sportswriting deserved better.
Landale to follow Robinson?
With Nick Robinson about to move to R4’s Today, speculation mounts about the next BBC political editor. Punters are reminded of this. For all the genuine paranoia and conflated hysteria about it being institutionally partisan in favour of one party or the other, the Beeb is at heart an establishment beast. As such, it tends to appoint a political editor (former Mail journalist Robin Oakley during John Major’s tenure; the spiritually New Labourish Andrew Marr under Blair) who is to the taste of the incumbent prime minister. On this basis, we install Robinson’s deputy James Landale, the Gussie Fink-Nottle lookalike who overlapped at Eton with David Cameron as the even favourite.
Burnham hard hat to follow
Today’s Labour leadership race (crawl, really) finds Andy Burnham ramping up the machismo as he contemplates cuts to disabled benefits in George Osborne’s forthcoming budget. In his Independent on Sunday piece, Andy removes the gloves. “If Osborne thinks this is the only way to reduce the deficit,” he writes, “then I for one will be ready to give him the fight he’s had coming for a long time.” Ooh, that Andy Burnham, he’s so butch it’s scary. He may be the butchest figure since the Village People’s construction worker hung up his hard hat.
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