TCS Daily

Margot and Me

By Tim Worstall - July 7, 2005 12:00 AM

I wrote here before about my imminent descent into old geezerdom and the associated, and disturbing, habit of actually reading political speeches. I have now found that it is even more disturbing to find my own words, a phrase of my invention, in one of those speeches being quoted back to me. Quite obviously there is nothing left for me except a footnote in a dictionary (phrase orig. Worstall) and a leap into the grave.

The speech was by TEBAF (The Ever Blessed and Fragrant) Margot Wallstrom, Vice President and Commissioner of the European Union. This, you may recall, is the blogging politician, the one who has embraced the joys of this new technology in order to bring the New Europe closer to us oiks, ingrates and toiling masses.

I find her blog terribly useful. Something of an eye opener, a way of seeing how the important people live their lives. For example, she worries about her son's homework:

        Now I know everything I need to know about molluscs. (No - I am NOT 
        talking about colleagues ...! ;-) ) I am talking about helping my youngest 
        son with his Biology homework. Do you have any good advice on how to 
        convince an 11-year old that this is necessary knowledge and that he has 
        to study until he understands what he is reading?

Now we need to remember that she is in fact in charge of Communications. No, not legging it up a telephone pole to get the wires fixed, but the process of communicating and expressing the ideals of the Union to us huddled masses (yearning to breathe free etc etc). We should also remember where she works and lives, in Brussels. Yes, in the heart of darkness, where the standard dish is moules frites. Note that the portion for one person starts with a kilo (2.2 lbs) of mussels plus the fried potatoes. It is almost the national dish and it is most certainly the dish with which those in paradise fill in the little gaps between the ambrosia, gumbo, daube of beef and other glories of cuisine without which, well, it wouldn't be paradise would it?

Given this background she, who would explain to us and convince us of the glories of Europe, actually has difficulty in convincing an 11 year old boy to be interested in molluscs?

What was it in her speech that disturbed me then? Was it another outrage along the lines of "deregulated markets require greater consumer protection?" Being Eurosceptic is tantamount to restarting the holocaust? No, worse, much much worse.

It was Richard North on his blog (and in comments at Margot's) who started calling her The Fragrant One. Never one to underplay a joke I expanded this to the above TEBAF and similarly started to use it at her place and it made its first appearance here at TCS on May 12th. Upon reading her speech of the 28th June I find this:

        Your conference programme introduces me as the Commission Vice-President.
But on my blog, which is open to anyone to comment on, some of the 
        commentators call me other things.
[...] or with a changed tone of voice [...] "the Ever Blessed and Fragrant 
        Margot Wallström." I would call that an example of the art of the subtle insult...

The problem is not that I, with an ego the size of Houston, am being quoted without attribution. No, rather that I fear that there is something terribly wrong with the world, at least that part of it inhabited by Commissioners, and I am worried that the Designer is hovering over the rewind and erase buttons, our continued existence due only to his uncertainty as to which to use.

Me? Subtle? There has to be something profoundly wrong with a universe in which those in charge can actually believe that.

I suppose we can take some small crumb of comfort from the fact that she does actually read her own blog (we already know that she writes it, perish the thought that any PR professional would write such stuff) which then leads to a further thought. Perhaps, just perhaps, if enough sensible thoughts are left in her comments section more of them will actually percolate through her fervid imagination and make appearances in future speeches? A few minor attempts:

        No means No.

        The Union has decided to hire an accountant that can manage double entry 
        book keeping.

        We abolished CAP yesterday.

        That Constitution thing. Well, yes.

        We agree that free trade between Stockholm and Sienna is a good idea. 
        We now realize that free trade between Stockholm, Sienna, Shanghai and 
        Savannah is exactly the same idea and therefore also a good idea. We 
        have abolished all quotas and tariffs.

One of the points of this internetwebthingie is that the audience is not just encouraged to join in but is in fact more important than the mere players on the stage such as myself. So please do drop your ideas into the feedback here and also at Margot's place. We can then see if any of them turn up in her speeches, no doubt to the greater good of humanity.

One final question. Anyone know a good libel lawyer? I'm sure subtle must be actionable somehow.



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