Magic marmalade

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    Spotlight Audio 2/2021
    Colin Beaven vor Großbritannien-Flagge
    Von Colin Beaven

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    Transcript: Magic marmalade

    Now that the UK has left the EU, it must succeed by itself on the world stage. Maybe that’s why the British government has been using the phrase “world-beating” so much. Colin Beaven has a thing or two to say about that in Britain Today.

    There is a shop in Newcastle that sells the world’s best marmaladeZitrus-, Orangenmarmelademarmalade. That sentence of mine is modelled on a 1964 hit by The Animals. The song begins with the line: “There is a house in New Orleans they call the Rising Sun.” I admit the song’s text is better, but let’s not to underestimateunterschätzenunderestimate marmalade.

    How do I know that Newcastle has the world’s best marmalade? The sign outside the shop says so, but because it’s folded like a fanFächerfan, some of the letters are hidden. So, if you’re passing in a hurry, “world’s best” looks more like “wor...st” — as if they’re selling really bad marmalade. And this may just make you walk on by. “Walk on By”? Another hit from 1964, but this time, by Dionne Warwick. As for the marmalade, you walk on but don’t buy.

    It must be frustrating being unable to sell the world’s best marmalade, even though you’ve done your best to advertise it. Why does this remind me of the British government? Because it often tells us that something or other in Britain is the best in the world — or to use what seems to be their favourite phrase: “world-beatingweltbeste(r,s)world-beating”. Standard political blusterGetösebluster? Or does the government really believe it?

    The “world-beating” app it announced last year in response to the pandemic was going to tell us when we’d been in contact with someone who’d tested positive for corona. Well, it didn’t work and was dropped. We all make mistakes, but if you keep calling things “world-beating”, you’re sure to be left with egg on your face. When there’s enough for an omelette, it’s time to stop.

    Even our national debtStaatsverschuldungnational debt isn’t world-beating. It reached two milestones last year: £2 trillionBillion(en)trillion and 100 per cent of GDP (gross domestic product)BIP (Bruttoinlandsprodukt)GDP. But not even that gets you the gold medal in the debt Olympics. Depending on how you calculate it, there are countries that to oweschulden, verschuldet seinowe even more. Japan, for example.

    The lesson here is that we must choose our words carefully as we set up international trade deals after Brexit — such as selling world-beating marmalade across the globe. It won’t be easy. Even Jeremy Hunt found it hard. He was foreign secretary (UK)Außenminister(in)foreign secretary under Theresa May, but before he entered politics, he tried selling marmalade to Japan. That didn’t work either, but don’t worry: later projects made him very rich.

    In the end, you can’t beat homemade marmalade, and with bitter oranges from Seville in the shops, now is the time to make it. It’s a lot of effort, but it takes your mind off political silliness, and at least you can watch the marmalade boil and change colour.

    It changes to what the novelistRomanautor(in)novelist Kate Atkinson calls the colour of melted lions. It’s a kind of magic. (Another hit: this time, one of Queen’s, from 1986.)

    by the wayübrigensBy the way, the shop in Newcastle is wrong. My wife makes the world’s best marmalade. Unless, of course, we’re visiting sensitiveempfindlichsensitive friends, in which case, we have to be polite and say they do.

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