One of our number recently had one of those once-in-a-while experiences which makes a person wonder whether they are tuned into the same reality as the majority of the world’s population. It came in a Central London eatery, a glass-and-steel clone which one imagines was once the last word in high-definition living but now resembles just another asset on a private equity balance sheet.
Sipping a reasonably warm Earl Grey tea – a beverage which by some happy coincidence appears to have escaped total plasticisation – our representative was party to an extraordinary monologue emanating from the lips of someone who seemed to carry the entire burden of the heavily-indebted southern EU on their slender shoulders. A visibly upset former denizen of this now benighted economic black hole, this person passionately railed against the entire European project with all the force of one whose convictions have gone beyond the point of absolute and are now in the realm of sublimity.
Thoughts ran through our representative’s head, of course. Lots of them. Perhaps it was not only the wealthy northern core of the EU which was to blame for the current crisis; maybe the generation of politicians in the periphery of Western Europe which signed over their countries to what they believed was a relentlessly prosperous future did not read the small print of accession; yes, even the possibility that nations such as Greece, Spain and Portugal – all in their own way prisoners of their own very different yet ultimately similar histories – could have run into the arms of the perfect Europe they perceived that little less uncritically…this dangerous ‘perhaps’ also entered their mind.