Monday, February 14, 2005

The Granita Tapes, Part 1A


This is Part 1 of the transcript of the September 11, 2002 Meeting at Granita, Islington, London, UEE.

Editor’s Notes
1. This is the transcript of the first part of the meeting. The second part follows tomorrow.
2. The NanoBugs had excellent video (thanks Sony!), but sadly Blogspot doesn’t handle this. So I’ve added comments to give an impression of the demeanor of the participants.
3. I’ve edited out only a few irrelevant comments.
4. Remember, this is translated from French.

Chirac. (Massaging leathery jowls and looking serious). Gentlemen, welcome to our meeting. Thank you Tony for organizing the venue and arranging the terrorist alerts that cleared the country. Shame about the food here.

Schroeder. (Genially). I second that. Tony, nice teeth!

Blair. (Looking boyish). Thank you both and welcome. I appreciate you coming all this way.

Chirac. (Frowning seriously). Our goal tonight is to agree plans for our future health and prosperity, correct?

Schroeder, Blair. Agreed.

Chirac. So I suggest we each state clearly and without equivocation how we see things and what we want. I suggest Tony kicks off.

Blair. (Looking firm and yet sad). I will be President-for-life of the Unholy European Empire (Ed: UEE is discussed in more detail later). I can't stay on as Prime Minister, I just don’t know how to do it. You see, I’ve never had a proper job - I’m only a bloody lawyer, not like Maggie, Churchill, or Bush. (Stifles manly sob).

Chirac. (Leathery eyes shining). And I will be lifetime head of the New Empire of the Great Napoleon! France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Luxembourg and Malta. (lights unfiltered Gauloise).

Blair (Sniffling). It’s OK waiter, he can smoke, he’s French.

Waiter. Yes sir, if you can just sign here. (Blair signs form entitled “Smoking Ban Revocation for Derogated Nationals of the Republic of France”).

Schroeder. (Looking Prussian). And I will be (Ed: Untranslatable German title meaning complete, absolute and utter and total Monarch) of a new Greater Reich. I will re-unite Germany, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Hungary, Finland, and the Netherlands.

Blair. (Eyes glistening). My main residence will be the Palazzo dei Conservatori in the Piazza del Campidoglio (Ed: Nice choice, great view). I’ll have unlimited Euros and power.

Schroeder. (Looking even more Prussian). My Chancellery will be the Charlottenburg palace (Ed: nice choice, great parking!), many servants, many Lexuses – Mercedes is crap now (Ed: Japanese NanoBugs nanocheer at this point) with an SAS Palace Guard (Ed: SAS are excellent Brit Special Forces). And lots of courtesans, I mean courtiers. Well, both actually.

Blair. (Looking boyish again). Consider the SAS bit done, my old, I’d been wondering how to get them out of the way.

Chirac. (With gravitas). It goes without saying that I shall reside at Versailles. I shall have 2,000 orange trees in pots that you can wheel around, lots of cute ladies with white wigs and fancy gowns which you can just... (Ed: rambles on a bit).

Others. Hear, hear!

Blair. (Looking out of window with distaste). I mean I’d like to make a go of being Prime Minister, but even if I could, Britain is soo crappy. Outside of London they drink Chardonnay! From boxes! They live in horrible little houses with door chimes! They drive nasty little cars! Chinese restaurants don’t have chopsticks! Hotels don’t have concierges!

Chirac. (Lugubriously). France’s ancient institutions are crumbling too - bakers don’t knead their own dough anymore. There is a McDonalds on the Champs Elysees. We are overrun with Moslems, and our population is falling. Also our economy is (how you say) “in the large container of fluid”.

Schroeder. (Patting hairpiece). Germany too is in that container. I am, like Tony, a Socialist. Socialism is an ancient German tradition, (remember, we put the “zi” in Nazi!). But, as we all know, it doesn’t work! Kids stay at college until they are 35! You can’t fire anyone! State pensions are huge! Taxes are crippling!

Blair. (Shoulders hunching). I tried following both of you. Increased taxes by 25% & threw money at education and healthcare. Nothing happened! Kids just got useless degrees in Media Studies while their grandparents expired in hospital corridors.

Chirac. (Raising eyebrows 6 inches). I mean, France has been best in the world at centralized planning since Louis XIV. We have Ecole Nationale d'Administration. Our “Enarques” have taken from the Amis industrial leadership of Civil Aviation (Airbus), Helicopters (Eurocopter) and Commercial Space Launch (Arianespace). But as soon as we use our monopolies and subsidies to dominate a market, it becomes unprofitable. I don’t get it!

Blair. (Twiddling hairpiece). I tried central planning too. Set a 5-year plan to increase the number of hospital operations. And what happened? Lots more ingrowing toenails got removed but no hearts got transplanted!

Schroeder. (Narrowing eyes, stroking white fluffy cat). Ye-es, but how do you explain that Britain’s economy has been growing strongly for years, while the rest of the UEE is in the toilet?

Blair. (Looking nervous). I haven’t a clue! Gordon (Ed: Gordon Brown, Finance Minister) keeps raising taxes and nothing bad happens. The economy just keeps growing! Bizarre and nothing to do with me, honest.

Schroeder. (Stroking cat harder). Because Harmful Competition Leads to Accidents…

Blair. (Wiping forehead). Don’t worry, 2 years and Britain will be back to UEE norms, honest guv.

Chirac. (Coughing and looking sad) And French Pride is no help, it’s really just lack of self respect. Every French town has a house that was Gestapo headquarters. People went there to give information, or to die, or both. We didn’t liberate ourselves, the Amis and the British did. We didn’t even have a beach at Normandy, the Canadians had to do that.

Schroeder. (Laughing) If the French needed to reserve beaches, they should have used good German towels! (Silence). (Laughing in embarrassed way, removing glasses). Anyway, I wanted to say that Germany is horrible too. Thanks to the British and Amis (who we secretly dislike for destroying our cities), we had to rebuild it all in 1951. Terrible modern architecture, crap materials, awful, awful. (Ed: And all their restaurants are like funeral parlors).

Chirac. (Outstretching hands). So, I too face a hopeless situation. Our army of unemployed riots for better wages! Our guest-terrorists are threatening to take arms against France itself! And I am a felon!

Schroeder, Blair. (Muttering). Aren’t we all?

Chirac. (Waving arms again). And one day I will be thrown out of the Presidency. Possibly I will be imprisoned, sharing a cell with a large Muslim, and you know what that means…Gerhard, don’t laugh! (Gallic sobs).

Schroeder. (Looking serious now). It’s hopeless for me too. Germany has zero growth, massive unemployment, a falling population and no future.

Chirac, Blair. Um, isn’t that the plan?

Schroeder . (Looking up, eyes shining). Yet in 1950 it looked soo good. By 1918 we’d drained the British of all the assets they’d accumulated over centuries, at minimal cost to ourselves. After they struggled back up, we finished them off in WW2! (Voice becomes shrill). They had nothing, nothing - the Amis took all their assets! And then the fools even gave us aid!
(Ed: Blair and Chirac pat Schroeder on the back & make soothing noises).

Schroeder. (Controlling self). Worse, unless Tony stops them, the British are about to overtake us again. And our armed forces are a joke, so we can’t even start another world war! (Sighs) It’s not fair, I tell you I am the most unpopular German politician in, oh, 10 years, and I won’t last long. (Sobs).

Blair. (Voice cracking) Me too - the bastards will chuck me out in a few years. And what will I have? Less money than some Dot Com Nerd (explains term to C and S). My life will be like Maggie’s: a bleak round of lecture tours of dreadful places like Minneapolis. And one ghost-written, tell-all book. And I can’t even become a Lord since I’m abolishing the bastards! And unlike Mrs. T, I won’t have achieved anything, so nobody will remember me.

Chirac. (Lighting another Gauloise and waving arms). Enough, enough, my braves! Let us talk of the sunlit uplands of the future – the Unholy European Empire (UEE). Waiter - 6 more bottles of the barely passable Chianti. (Ed: pause for sampling, lip smacking etc).

Chirac. (Intoning). “Unholy” because, well, religion has been the cause of horrible wars.

Schroeder. (Ponderously). “European”, because that’s our turf, is that correct my “Homoboys”?

Blair. (Sighing). Homeboys, Gerhardt. And of course “Empire” because there won’t be any real elections!

All. (Cheering, clinking of glasses).

Chirac. (Looking serious) Of course the UEE will be poor – even now Europe is only as rich as the 5th poorest Ami state, West Virginia. You know the one where the movie Deliverance was set.

Schroeder. (Laughing, laughing) Ah Deliverance, one of my favorites, so romantic!

Chirac. (Swallowing). Of course our big cities will stay rich! London, Paris, Frankfurt are just as well heeled as New York City or LA! So we need not worry about our own decline, that’s a problem for the poor. Who will definitely NOT be with us! At least anywhere near us, we still need the tax base!

Blair. (Looking chirpy). Next item! As agreed, I’ve taken advice from Goldman Sachs.

Chirac, Schroeder. (In chorus, bowing). Goldman Sachs! Goldman Sachs! The Main Men!

Blair. (Importantly). They confirm that our businesses are beyond our abilities to manage. And their recommended best commercial practice is a merger with one or more other hopeless cases. They also confirm that, as in any merger, we are bound to ensure the best returns for the most important parties.

Chirac. (Frowning). The employees?

Schroeder. (Waving hand). The shareholders!

Blair. (Giggling). No dummies, the Management, of course, us! So we’re forming the UEE on the best possible advice! Apparently Goldmans use this rule all the time.

Schroeder. (Wonderingly). Great rule! Look After The Managers First! I’ll pass this on to my mates at Mannesmann.

Blair. (Leaning back, hands behind head). So, we conclude this first part of our meeting. We are agreed that by 2007, we three will be UEE Co-Presidents for life with suitable accommodation and emoluments. Together we will asset strip, er integrate, the United Kingdom to optimize the use of resources, remove dead wood, eliminate harmful competition etc.

Chirac. (Smiling evilly). And then, the UEE will, in alliance with China & the Holy Muslim Nations, reduce the USA to its proper status in the world as a supplier of raw materials (and defense if we need it). We will discuss plans after a “pit stop”.

(Ed: Here the first part of the meeting ends).