The penny off a pint of news
Yeah, it's probably either pouring down or snowing wherever you are (unwanted snow; I used to think that could only be an oxymoron), but as you lurch home into the teeth of the oncoming gale, you may think to yourself "At least it's not Cyprus. Sunny, warm, catastrophically-stricken Cyprus." Then your cries echo towards the very welkin itself as you're slammed into a wall by a rogue gust. Poor Cyprus. They've got Ireland coming up with ideas to help them with their own banking meltdown. Which gives the whole thing more of the feel of an AA meeting than one would expect. Ireland isn't going to be a great sponsor for you, Cyprus. Not unless being on the 'right path' by crippling several generations with debt is something that floats your boat. It appears that with the clock ticking down, a form of bank levy is inevitable, if not at the higher levels mentioned previously. This is likely to annoy many, erm, legitimate businessmen in Russia, who have large amounts (if not quite the figures emanating from Germany) deposited on the island. What Cyprus needs now is a rebirth of the fin de siècle UK Garage scene, when Ayia Napa played host to the summertime revels of any number of So Solid Crew members and young English footballers. It's your duty as Europeans, Oxide & Neutrino, Lisa Maffia and Kieron Dyer.
In Britain, Chancellor George Osborne's budget was a plaintive appeal to Top Gear fans to halt their vroom-vrooming away from the Tories to UKIP. "My advisors tell me you people like beer, owning your own home and cars, sorry, 'motors', therefore come and have 'a butchers' at these lahhvly, lahhvly measures", he failed to say at the dispatch box. But since every economic growth forecast his government makes seems to end up being revised downwards, he appears increasingly embattled as he waits for his austerity tactics to bear fruit. And if I were him, I'd read my brand new twitter feed through my fingers. Or have my butler print out and iron the more positive comments, before delivering them to me at the breakfast table.
Turning to matters of a kick-ball nature, this weekend sees the meeting of Serbia and Croatia in a World Cup qualification match. These matches will always carry the ghosts of the charnel-house and Tophet that was the Balkans of the early 90's and the part that a football match played in its outbreak. Even more so when you consider that the managers involved were once friends, until their paths diverged. If these two men can shake hands on Saturday night and lead their teams through a game free of flashpoints on the pitch or in the stands, it may well stand as a marker for personal forgiveness and the letting go of old wounds.
News reached us this week from Canada about the daring and glaringly-obvious-when-you-think-about-it prison escape of two inmates of the Saint Jerome correctional facility near Montreal. I'm a little surprised this doesn't happen more often, either by coercing some innocent pilot as happened in this instance, or by paying top dollar to some Jean-Michael Vincent gone over to the dark side. A similar jailbreak (somewhere in that town) led to an Irish number one hit single, I'd like to see being smuggled out in the laundry inspire similar high-quality balladry. The only way I can see to stop further helicopter escapes is to shackle all prisoners' hands high above their heads in the exercise yard. Then it's a freedom/having hands choice. Most would choose the later, I feel.
Kevin Ward probably has many more penal reform suggestions here