Saturday, 03 December 2011 10:09
Published inOther News
3rd December 2011: St Andrew’s Day was, of course, celebrated in Scotland on Wednesday, not forgetting Russia, Ukraine and Romania. However, it was also marked in Brussels by celebrants from six different countries.
Another Andrew, a Moffat rather than a saint, wearing highland attire, led the address to the haggis, to the sound of bag pipes. He spoke to the item of foodstuff as if it might have responded to, and even appreciated, the words of the immortal Robert Burns. Why even a sapient and sentient being should appreciate being described as having a sonsie face, still less of having hurdies like a distant hill, I cannot imagine. If it did understand, it certainly didn’t give the game away.
The human spectators from the six countries seemed just as reluctant to show any evidence of understanding the meaning of the words, let alone their significance. Indeed when Andrew (the Moffat and not the saint) threatened the afore-mention item of food with his dagger, while shouting wrathful imprecations in a loud voice, one or two of the guests looked worried and seemed to edge towards one of the doors.
They had read about the British from their tabloid newspapers, starting quietly when sober and then launching into a murderous attack when intoxicated. Would the poor haggis only be Moffat’s first victim to be followed by this Northern European, that Central European and the other Easterner.
The beer was drunk, the red wine was sipped, the white wine ignored but the Glenfiddich was relished.
The haggis was tried; the beef was enjoyed and the pudding was scooped with delight.
Songs were sung in all manner of languages; indeed some would have sounded unfamiliar even to native speakers. However, enjoyment and goodwill were the lingua franca of the evening.
The last guests disappeared at about 4.00 a.m.
Address To A Haggis
Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face, Great chieftain o' the puddin-race! Aboon them a' ye tak your place, Painch, tripe, or thairm: Weel are ye wordy o' a grace As lang's my arm.
The groaning trencher there ye fill, Your hurdies like a distant hill, Your pin wad help to mend a mill In time o' need, While thro' your pores the dews distil Like amber bead.
His knife see rustic Labour dight, An' cut you up wi' ready sleight, Trenching your gushing entrails bright, Like ony ditch; And then, O what a glorious sight, Warm-reekin, rich!
Then, horn for horn, they stretch an' strive: Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive, Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve, Are bent lyke drums; Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive, "Bethankit!" 'hums.
Is there that owre his French ragout Or olio that wad staw a sow, Or fricassee wad mak her spew Wi' perfect sconner, Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view On sic a dinner?
Poor devil! see him ower his trash, As feckless as a wither'd rash, His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash, His nieve a nit; Thro' bloody flood or field to dash, O how unfit!
But mark the Rustic, haggis fed, The trembling earth resounds his tread. Clap in his walie nieve a blade, He'll mak it whissle; An' legs an' arms, an' heads will sned, Like taps o' thrissle.
Ye Pow'rs wha mak mankind your care, And dish them out their bill o' fare, Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware That jaups in luggies; But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer, Gie her a haggis!
1st December 2011: Under the Catch the Eye procedure, Andrew Brons spoke in the European Parliament in Brussels this morning during a debate on the forthcoming European Council* meeting (to be held on the 8th & 9th December). "There is no doubt that, other things being equal, the European Council would like to maximise economic growth throughout the Union. However, decision taking involves not just what we would like but also the priority we give to each desired end. The European Council has greater priorities: the preservation of the Euro-zone; and fiscal and political union - as ends in themselves, as well as to save the Euro. The whole current debate about bail-outs for Greece and other countries, is as though the purpose were a charitable one. It is not. This is not about providing help for Greece's economy; it is about sacrificing Greece's economy for the integrity and prestige of the Euro-zone. If Greece and other ailing countries were to withdraw from the Zone and revert to their own currencies, the value of those currencies would fall, reducing the price of their exports - visible and invisible (such as tourism) and bring about an export led boom. Whilst their debt burdens would increase, there will be default anyway, inside or outside the Zone."
* The European Council or European Summit (not to be confused with the Council of the European Union) comprises heads of government (and one head of state). It meets six times each year to consider broad policy aims and strategies.
1st December 2011: Andrew Brons didn't pull any punches when telling MEPs what he thought of the process of accession of Croatia to the European Union. This morning at the Mini-Plenary session in Brussels he said: "It is twenty years since Croatia declared it independence, following a 95% backing in a referendum, and it fought to defend that independence, its territory and its people. Many died and were seriously wounded in defence of those interests. It is tragic that Croatia is about to sign that independence away to the European Union. To ensure its entry, Croatia has had to: 1. pass quantities of legislation enforcing social liberalism; 2. hand its generals over to the International Criminal Court as though they were sacrifices to a jealous god; and 3. sign up to economic liberalism that will prevent its government from defending the jobs of its people. That the Treaty will be signed, before the people have spoken in the Referendum, shows a contempt for democracy, for the Croatian people and especially for those who died in Croatia's war of independence. The Government of Croatia is not content to have used, or rather misused, public funds to pay for propaganda dressed up as information, to skew the result of the referendum. It is treating the referendum result as though it were a mere formality. Of course, if there should be a 'No' vote, there can always be another referendum and another and another, until they arrive at the right decision. That is the EU way."
30th November 2011: Making his fourth speech of the week at the European Parliament in Brussels yesterday afternoon, Andrew Brons addressed MEPs in the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) on a proposed directive on Seasonal workers.
"It is self-evident that seasonal workers must not be paid below the minimum wage or under conditions that are sub-minimal and, in some cases, sub-human, enabling them to undercut local workers. The condition of the Togo workers in Rosarno, which we visited last year, were truly appalling. Indeed 'appalling' is not an adequate word to describe them. However, we also heard, when we were there of local unemployed workers who were on local schemes and paid less than the minimum wage, although their conditions were not comparable with those of the workers from Togo. The question remains of why seasonal workers are employed from distant countries, when all countries employing them have high rates of unemployment and rising rates of unemployment? Is it acceptable for local workers to be on government schemes and benefits, when seasonal workers, from far away, are employed in their stead? All migrant workers are vulnerable to being employed under sub-minimal conditions by rogue employers. They frequently do not know where they can complain. That is why rogue capitalists and their ever-willing apologists are so fond of migration."