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Posted 11 May 2010

Hard to believe, but sometimes even I like to be proven wrong. What did I write in my report on alcohol policies back in February? That come May and the World Health Assembly of the WHO convening in Geneva, the ills of alcohol consumption would dominate headlines around the world.

Well, I was wrong. Thank heavens, our politicians have more urgent matter to deal with than slapping consumers on the wrist for drinking too much booze.

Speaking of booze: it warmed my heart to read that at an election party over in London the host had ice sculptures of naked contestants Cameron and Brown spilling forth vodka which revellers could drink from. This proves to show that even those loaded with money take to drink in times of despair.

It’s now days after the election and Britain still does not have a government. Whoever will eventually govern Britain – Cameron and Clegg or the “anti-dream team” Labour-Lib Dem - is most likely going to make a mess of it.

I shouldn’t sneer. With our ruling coalition losing an important regional election and thus its majority in our second chamber, Germany will probably be ruled by a conciliation committee for years to come. A fine mess we got ourselves into.

And I am not going to discuss Sarkogate – the inquiry started by the Elysee into who spread the rumour about President Sarkozy and wife Bruni both having extramarital affairs.

At least the French have their priorities right and want to talk about sex and cheating instead of the trivia of politics and how France is going to meet its fiscal guidelines.

High time for the rest of us to turn to more serious issues like football and the up-coming Football World Cup in South Africa. But we are not allowed to. European Union finance ministers worked late into the night on Mother’s Day (9 May) before coming up with a EUR 750 billion package to prop up the euro and forestall further speculative attacks against the currency.  

The enormous package pushed through on Monday morning became necessary following a week of market uncertainty and the continued freefall of the euro despite a EUR 110 billion bailout package for Greece agreed to by euro zone states at the beginning of the month. Doubt that the Greek bailout would be sufficient was widespread, with many fearing that Portugal and Spain would be the next to require assistance.

Taxpayers, don’t these figures make your heads spin?

I never thought I would be tempted to say this, but had not been for a series of serious crises and crashes - the dodgy mortgage crisis in the U.S., followed by the global credit market crash, the Greek crisis, the Mexican Gulf oil spill, the euro crisis, the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud and the stock market crash (6 May) which may have been triggered by a typo (!) – we would be celebrating the late arrival of spring in Europe sitting outside in our beer gardens enjoying the first al fresco beer of the year and feel guilty.

At least the deepening global economy crisis has put the anti-alcohol campaigners and their temperance hangers-on back in their rightful place. For the time being.

      

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