Saturday, August 12, 2006

ave Europa nostra vera Patria

August is right smack in the middle of the “silly season”. This is the time of year when there is, by tradition, no real news – so papers have to find some – or manufacture some at least. I particularly like the story about farmer David Lucas who had a lucrative sideline in making and exporting gallows. “Had” is the operative word here as the EU has stepped in to stop him in his tracks by passing a law that makes importing or exporting equipment that could be used for capital punishment illegal. Praise be the EU!

For a harsh moment there it looked like the continent was about to be overrun with gallows masquerading as tourist attractions. The EU has saved us from that fate by banning the rather splendid woodworking sideline of farmer Mr Lucas and killed a thriving export commodity – all in one smooth movement. Hallelujah!!

Or, is this just an EDP silly season report? There are some clues in the article. Mr Lucas' business partner has come forward to explain that it's all a bit of a joke. Mr Lucas didn't really sell gallows at all. He was just your average fan of capital punishment and liked to talk it up. According to his business partner that is? Take your pick.

I suppose the real give away here is the photo of Lucas next to the article. We see a rather splendid gallows (just like the one children draw when they play hangman) complete with rope and hangman's noose with Mr Lucas neatly poised underneath. How to describe Mr Lucas? Charitably, if possible. He is a tall gent with a shock of grey-ish hair that stands up as if he facing into a gale. His patriarchal beard is flecked with grey as well, and he gazes into the distance as if straining to see the approach of the next miscreant to be hanged. He is wearing trousers and jacket of a nondescript colour and fabric- best described as muddy green, or perhaps slime green might be more accurate. They appear to be held up with a bit of thick string which doubles as braces. His shirt was once white and features contrasting buttons in the ubiquitous muddy colour. His open collar reveals an undergarment that (hopefully) is supposed to be grey and not just filthy! In the appropriate attire he could be an Old Testament prophet or a double for Charlton Heston in Moses. The photo is by far the most entertaining feature of this article.

The news that Mr Lucas intends to start a new political party is reported. For The People Party is the name of this new political initiative but no policies are announced, as yet. Mr Lucas' has always been interested in capital punishment according to his business partner.

Amnesty International do not see the funny side of this story. The are outraged that such activities have been going on in the UK and welcome the news that the EU are to outlaw the export of execution equipment. It makes one wonder where you would have to go in order to buy illegitimate equipment. Will the EU drive the gallows makers of Britain underground? Will Amnesty International need extra investigators to track down these depraved manufacturers? Or, is the whole thing too silly for words? I know where my money is. The Michael has been well and truly extracted.

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