What would you expect the head of a household to do if his home was falling down? You would expect him to alert his dearest to vacate the premises and take their most precious belongings with them. What would you expect the President of Cyprus to do, armed with insider knowledge of the economic catastrophe that was about to befall his country? If your answer is that he would do his best to protect the interests of the common man who elected him to high office, then you don't know much about the ruling class. What Cypriot President Nikos reportedly did was warn his close friends of the impending doom, so that they could make haste to spirit their most precious belonging - money - out of the country before the IMF could nab a chunk of it.
The Italian media, those parts that are not detailing the various shenanigans of their own ex-leader, reported that four and a half billion Euros were taken from Cyprus's banks with a few frenetic mouse clicks before the wall came down and the European Central Bank started to treat those deposits as their own. The ban on moving money abroad came after those in the know availed themselves of all the services that no-questions-asked internet banking can provide.
Ordinary Cypriots queued forlornly at cash machines to take out what they could but, as is the way with the finance racket, forewarned is forearmed. It's just that forewarning is reserved for the haves, not the have nots. It is like insider trading, which is what makes the world go round for those that can afford the ticket to the carousel.
That sort of thing could never happen in this country, though. Our banks are as safe as houses. No, something stronger: our banks are as safe as...banks. Do not be afraid citizens of Britain, your cash is safe. That is the message from the banks and the government. Simply deposit your wages and your savings with us and we will treat your money with the good practice and deference for which the City of London is famous, they say. Then they will mumble something about terms and conditions that you can barely hear and that if you read you would not understand. Still, I am sure they are right. Nothing as third world as a banking collapse could ever happen in jolly old Blighty. I mean, that would be as far fetched as us running out of gas.
In other news, we are running out of gas. Due to the entirely unexpected cold weather in early Spring, something which has never happened before unless you count most of the years you have been alive, our gas reserves are running low. This is because of the selfish manner in which Britons choose not to freeze to death and put on their heating when it is snowing. This self indulgence has decimated our reserves of natural gas.
The United States of America has reserves that will last it six months in the event of being cut off from outside supplies. Our European neighbours have a parsimonious three months capacity on stand by. So, you might think that in well ordered and prudently run Great Britain we would have a buffer of available fuel to last us through the unexpected quite comfortably, given that we are a rich, first world island and not a place that exports bananas and refugees. And you would be wrong. Britain has, at best, fifteen days of gas reserves. Fifteen. At the time of writing, we have less than two days supply.
Be not afraid though, we have completely reliable pipelines that will squirt natural gas up us in the event of us running out. In other other news, one of only three key pipelines that supply us in an emergency just shut down unexpectedly. And who could plan for the unexpected? Unless that is what governments are for.
At least we can rely on electricity. I mean, the lights aren't about to go out are they? Unless, that is, you believe the government body that oversees the electricity industry that has said the lights are about to go out. Give it four years, they say, and we will be reading the television guide to see what we are missing by the dying light of our mobile phone's last charge. But what about the industry that can save us from dependence on dirty old fossil fuels: nuclear power? Nuclear power means we can be independent and not beholden to Russia or the Middle East to keep the internet on so we can go trolling celebrities on Twitter. Except, that is, when there is weather in the air. A brief chilly snap, accompanied by a feather light dusting of snow has forced the Sellafield nuclear power station to shut down. I am not making that up. The bad weather which has caused people to need power, has induced the place that helps produce it to stop working. Nothing remotely third world about that.
If the cold weather continues, which "experts" say it will, then it will be getting a bit nippy inside, unless you have a working fireplace and don't mind burning your furniture.
On the other hand, the Mediterranean is positively balmy at this time of year. If only there was a country there that was desperate for money, didn't mind being over run by Brits and had the same relaxed attitude about financial malpractice that we have here, but with better weather and cheaper restaurants. For the good of us both, I say: let's invade Cyprus, in the nicest possible way.