Thursday, March 29, 2007


A is for Arsenal
Arsène Wenger and Thierry Henry's exercise in footballing elegance (with barely a British boot on the pitch) would hardly be possible without Europe's open transfer market
B is for borders
During a journey from Belgium to Luxembourg to France to Germany to Poland a passport had to be shown only once and then cursorily
C is for climate change
27 governments have just agreed the most ambitious package ever to tackle global warming. If the US, China, and India followed suit, the future would look less bleak
D is for democracy
dictatorships in Spain, Portugal, Greece and all over eastern Europe are in the dustbin of history
E is for the euro
On trips across much of Europe, travellers no longer have to change currencies and no longer come home with a pocketful of useless coins
F is for flights
Stag parties in Prague? Shopping in Barcelona? How could we afford it without the cheap airlines enabled by deregulating European air traffic
G is for Germany
Until anchored in the EU, Germany caused untold grief to most of us
H is for homebuying
The British mania for that place in the sun is a result of the EU requiring members to open their housing markets to foreign EU citizens
I is for international clout
Europe's sum is greater than its parts when it comes to making a difference internationally
J is for jobs
Working anywhere in Europe is now easy and occurring on an unprecedented scale
K is for Kosovo
The biggest challenge. EU is preparing to steer the province to independence in its first such mission
L is for London
As Europe's pre-eminent financial centre, the City of London has benefited enormously from the single market
M is for market
The single one of goods and services has been a boon for European consumers
N is for nationalism
It ain't what it used to be
O is for openness
What the EU has done best in expanding from an original six to a current 27 countries
P is for peace
Don't take it for granted in the continent that gave us Auschwitz.
Q is for queueing
Less and less of it on the borders between EU countries
R is for regions
Remote and poorer areas of Europe benefit from structural funds that amount to a great social democratic exercise in wealth redistribution
S is for soft power
if the EU's so bad, why does everyone else want to join?
T is for transport All of Europe is being knitted together by road and rail infrastructure projects
U is for unification
In 2004, when eight post-communist countries joined, made Europe whole (nearly), democratic, and free for the first time ever
V is for variety
From Krakow to Florence to Edinburgh to Seville, no union has ever comprised such splendid diversity
W is for welfare
The European social model cushions the effects of globalisation
X is for xenophobia
National prejudices start to break down the more the citizens of Europe mix and meet
Y is for yard
Europe encouraged all countries to unify measuring systems
Z is for Zimbabwe
Robert Mugabe and his henchmen are barred all over Europe, at British insistence, but only because Britain is in the EU

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


It was written on the wall, upstairs:

"I will drink life to the lees!"

And I didn't understand what "lees" mean.

To be honest, more than four years later I haven't looked in the dictionary the exact meaning of the word but I understand perfectly the philosophy behind the concept, that's for sure.