A half-eaten mess

    Britain Today
    Von Colin Beaven

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    Transcript: A half-eaten mess

    Would you like to see the dessert menu? Most of us nod when asked that question. The British have such a sweet tooth. Now, what shall we choose? Bread-and-butter pudding (UK)Nachtisch, Auflaufpudding, sticky toffee pudding (UK)ein saftig süßer Dattelkuchen mit Karamellsoßesticky toffee pudding, cheesecake or Eton messChaos, Kuddelmuddelmess? Eton mess? It’s a mixture of meringueBaisermeringue, cream and strawberries. And, yes, it does look a mess. As for Eton, it’s the elite private school that’s produced 19 British prime ministers, the last of them David Cameron. The story goes that Eton mess was invented there.

    You may remember David Cameron. He left politics when he lost the Brexit referendum. He certainly left us a mess, but perhaps it’s unfair to blame his school. Maybe it’s only half-fair, in which case, he left us a half-eaten mess. Not all prime ministers went to Eton. Its traditional rival is Harrow, which is where Winston Churchill went to school.

    Will David Cameron make a political comeback in the way that Churchill did? Having lost the election in 1945, Churchill was back as prime minister in 1951. It’s unlikely. But there may be a way he could still use his talent for translating a popular pudding into politics. If you visit Churchill’s old home at Chartwell, you’ll see a letter of congratulations from Buckingham Palace, sent when Churchill was head of some organization that was celebrating its fiftieth anniversary.

    The congratulations come from Prince Philip, with a puzzlingmysteriös, rätselhaftpuzzling extra comment. He writes along these lines: some things have no use or value, but people still keep them because they give pleasure and satisfaction. In other words, Churchill’s organization was pointlesssinnlos, nutzlospointless, but it made people feel better. It’s not much of a compliment, but as Prince Philip was no doubt aware, he was almost describing his own job, too — perhaps even his wife’s.

    If the monarchy really is nothing more than a bit of harmless fun, you might feel it to not matternicht wichtig seindoesn’t matter that it’s passed from parent to child without checking for talent. Or you might feel there are better ways of choosing heads of state.

    But then, if we had a president instead, you might not want to copy the Americans and choose someone who’s completely new to politics. So would we have no choice but to put a recycled prime minister in Buckingham Palace? Like… David Cameron?

    Or, even worse, Tony Blair? When he was prime minister, Blair wanted Britain to be a meritocracyLeistungsgesellschaftmeritocracy. Perhaps there really is someone somewhere who deserves to be head of state. I can’t imagine he’d want the job, but Professor Stephen Hawking would be ideal; he already has the word “king” in his name. Even if David Cameron doesn’t become president, we can expect to see more Eton mess in British politics. The foreign secretary (UK)Außenminister(in)foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, also went to school there.

    How on earth do we get out of this mess? We could stop choosing politicians from the elite, and find new ones from ordinary schools and more bread-and-butterLebensunterhalt; hier: gewöhnlichbread-and-butter backgrounds.

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