Saturday 28 March 2009

Vive les Vignerons

"I would like people in Britain to realise what is at stake here" says Mr Tremoulet, whose family has been growing grapes in the Languedoc for generations, in a report by the BBC headlined "French Wine Withers on the Vine". He describes the situation for farmers as "catastrophic", as British drinkers turn away from French wines because of the strong Euro. The UK is the biggest importer of wine in the world and we are now, it seems, turning from Chablis to Chile, lured by supermarket "3 bottles for a tenner" offers. Here as in other areas, the old world is losing out to the new.
I'd like to reassure M. Tremoulet that I for one am doing my bit. A delicious crisp Alsace Riesling last night, a silky 2002 claret last weekend and my stocks of Duval-Leroy champagne are fast diminishing. No, I am not giving up French wine, credit crunch or no credit crunch. I remember "Johnny" Hugel, in the cellar in Riquewihr in which his family had produced wine from father to son since 1639, saying that if times were tough or you were feeling low, go to a good restaurant, order a lovely bottle of wine ("preferably one of mine"), and you would feel all the better afterwards. I'm not sure how economically sound his advice was, but I've followed it ever since and it works. M. Tremoulet, I'm doing my best!

Saturday 7 March 2009

Caught by the "Court of Public Opinion"

Did any politician ever give a bigger hostage to fortune than did Harriet Harman when she decried mere "courts of law" in favour of "the court of public opinion"?
No wonder no arrest was made when a fellow cabinet member was assaulted with green custard - why resort to the law courts when it is "public opinon" that counts? In the court of public opinion, it is so much easier to pronounce judgement and pass sentence, without having to weigh up tiresome and complex arguments or balance interests.
Forget being taken into custody pending trial - just chuck the custard! Harriet Harman says the rule of law need not restrain us when we feel strongly.
I predict much more custard, as Harriet's (anti-)Law finds favour with those frustrated by those pesky and restrictive Acts of Parliament.
And who is this supporter of summary justice? Oh yes, she is a QC, an MP, a past Legal Officer for the National Council for Civil Liberties, past Solicitor General, Leader of the House of Commons, and "Secretary of State for Equalities". Not Equalities under the Law, surely?

Wanted: Leila Deen, age 29

Why was Leila Deen not arrested and charged with assaulting a cabinet minister? It seems ridiculous that she could commit an illegal and violent act, for the cameras, then spend half an hour giving interviews to the media before going on her way.
Lord Mandelson's protection unit - and the Metropolitan Police - have a lot of questions to answer.
For the first time I remember, I agree with John Prescott!