Not All British Exports are Good
In a parallel universe there is a version of me that is currently sitting somewhere, wondering what it would have been like to live in Germany. Although I cannot definitively say where exactly the alternate me is, I know for certain that he is eating a pork pie the size of a cricket ball. Alternate me never moved and because he did not, he is still infatuated with pork pies. They are my/his kryptonite. I know this because every time I go back, I gain at least ten kilos simply because I cannot stop eating them. That is not an exaggeration, I eat them like someone might take them away at any time. As I boarded the plane to return home last week, I was brushing off pie crumbs from my t-shirt after I demolished two more before I left the house. Only days before, I finished a packet of six mini-pies in a car journey that only took an hour. Perhaps alternate me will go into rehab at some point and solve his issue with those delicious meaty bastards, but he probably won’t. I wouldn’t.
Thankfully for my cholesterol levels, I live in a country devoid of pastry covered pork products. Sure enough there are many delicious pork dishes here, but none that can replace my temporary pie friends. I am also beholden to a wife who demands that I live as long as her, if only so she has someone around to reach the stuff on high shelves or to shoo away random spiders well into her dotage. I fear the day someone realises how lucrative it might be to sell British pork pies to German consumers. Not because I would end up buying any, but from the horrifically bruised hands I will have, caused by my wife slapping packets of pies out of them every time we go shopping. Thankfully for the moment, I have yet to come across a shop that imports pies, despite there being so many other stores and websites dedicated to British products.
Perhaps the export of pork pies to continental Europe is one of the many topics of conversation between Britain’s Brexit minister David Davis and his EU opposite Michel Barnier, it might even feature on the dirty napkin used by the former to jot down his negotiating positions. Perhaps that is unfair, but given the negative reception in some quarters to the publishing of the UK position on Brexit recently, one could easily believe that Davis and co see British pies as the only economic prop they have left, once all the banks leave.
An alternative option, given the British establishment’s predilection for selling weapons, would be to find a way to fully weaponise Nigel Farage, former UKIP leader, MEP and Lord High Admiral of shit stirring. At the moment he is free range, traversing the world with his special brand of ruddy faced outrage and bombast. He should be publicly purchased by the British government, enhanced with millions of pounds of taxpayer money and then possibly privatised at a later date for a small profit.
Last weekend, Donald Trump’s last remaining friend was commissioned for use by the AfD (Alternative für Deutschland) to give a speech at their election rally held at the imposing 16th century Zitadelle Spandau. Although his message of electoral optimism was greeted with a standing ovation, I could not help but think that holding an election rally in a high walled fortress was sending the wrong message. They might say it was for security reasons, given that dozens of mild mannered protesters were outside, but holding rallies in buildings that are designed to withhold siege weaponry suggests a rather defensive attitude. Perhaps it has fewer stairs than other venues, which allows the AfDs youth wing to attend without fear of suffering recurring attacks of angina.
No matter, plucky Farage stood before the frothing masses and gave them a message of hope to take them into the election with stirring words such as “Once you are able to speak the unspeakable, people will begin to think the unthinkable” which I am sure is a line lifted directly from Propaganda for Dummies. Luckily for him, he was sharing a platform with Beatrix von Storch, AfD leader and minor character in the Harry Potter franchise, who has some experience of speaking the unspeakable. In 2014, Von Storch suggested that border guards shoot at women and children who attempted to illegally cross the border, which she later backtracked on saying that shooting at children was “rightly, not allowed”. This makes me wonder if Farage should have amended his speech to say “Once you are able to speak the unspeakable, people will begin to think you are suggesting people with guns fire on defenceless children and rightly surmise you might not really be fit for office, despite your attempts to clarify that you only meant shoot at the defenceless adults”.
Nigel Farage’s entrance on the German political scene should not be underestimated however, given that he managed to see his political dreams come true, despite having never been elected to the House of Commons. He is gaining a reputation as a political lucky charm, the human equivalent of the cuddly toy students place on their desks before important exams, a shining totem of what unscrupulous bullshit and wanton grasping for power can get you if you really try. Politicians do not necessarily need to be in office to see their ideas become reality, they just need to say terrible things while holding a pint and pretending to understand the realities of everyday people. Nazi inspired propaganda can help to, although I am guessing that was not in his speech.
Whatever happens come the election, Germany must be prepared to weather the storm of the AfD and face it head on. Like UKIP, it will claim to represent “what ordinary people really think” while fostering the worst elements of the political spectrum. It will make a mess, it will screech and wail and it will push an agenda of misrepresentation and bigotry as long as it is allowed, but like Farage it will not stick around to fix the problems it claims exist.