Circuses without the bread

THE ALWAYS DEPENDABLE Tory DailyGuff effortlessly demonstrates its neo-Orwellian (or should that be Nero-Orwellian) pedigree on today’s front page.

It goes for the Freestyle Ludicrous Headline gold medal with: “Keep calm and carry on – we are only one medal short of what we should have at this stage.”

Beneath the 72pt banner, a crack squad of highly-trained DT eyewash-peddlers hit the page running with:

The British public was yesterday urged not to panic over the country’s gold medal drought as officials insisted that Team GB was still on target for a bumper Olympic haul.

And there was I, running up and down our road dressed only in a pyjama top, gibbering at the sheer unrelieved tension of it all. Silly me.

Now, someone could write a whole thesis on that intro alone: for example the insinuation that all good citizens ought, by now, to have raised their level of patriotic fervour to hysteria pitch. Or the shadowy ‘officials’, whose iron grip on the Olympic Plan will surely deliver those longed-for gongs bang on cue.

Juvenal would have recognised all this at once: Duas tantum res anxius optat, panem et Circenses. (Approximately): “Two things only do the people earnestly desire, bread and the Games.”

Or just ‘the Games’ these days, since history is repeating itself 19 centuries on. If one peeks behind the wall-to-wall flag-waving by the media (at page 26 of today’s cellulose edition of the DailyGuff to be precise), problems with the bread side of the equation are popping up like the ugly heads of synchronised swimmers at a goblin gala.

Household incomes hit seven-year low” is the headline over an article that points out that families can now only afford to pay 2005 prices for burgers and chips, let alone the astronomic amounts demanded by monopoly sponsors in the hermetically-sealed east London rallying arena.

Above that article is one headlined: “Euro failure would trigger UK bank nationalisations.” It would trigger a hell of a lot more than that for the vulgaris. But it always helps to be reminded about whose priorities matter most.

I did like the suggestion that “to prevent the pound strengthening in a euro crisis” (are they saying there isn’t a euro crisis now?) the Bank of England “would have to launch a £1 trillion round of quantitative easing.”

That would definitely count as a heroic, gold medal-worthy effort for a country whose entire GDP was barely £1.5 trillion before it started shrinking.

Hmm. Let’s see now, what should we spend all that money on when it’s been printed? Bread, d’you think? Or circuses?

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