Monday, 16 March 2009

Pizza and protest

Isn’t it wonderful when you get one of those rare days with a couple of news stories that give real pleasure? It makes such a change. Generally, you can go for days at a time with nothing but a monotonous dirge of dismal articles about the latest economic failure or ghastly military fiasco.

Today we got the news, on the front page of The Guardian no less, that after some intense research since about 1990, including flying in experts and flying out special study groups, the leaders of North Korea feel they’ve made sufficient progress in the art of pizza-making to open their first Italian restaurant.

All the comments about making pizza while your people starve are far too obvious, so please keep them to yourselves. I certainly won’t mention them.

Instead, I just want to talk about the tremendous sense of relief this story gives me. For years, we’ve been told by people like Bush (remember him?) to be scared, to be very scared, of North Korea and its nuclear ambitions.

It took them nineteen years to learn to make a pizza.

Hey, they may have imported centrifuges. But they’re probably using them to spin dough. Meanwhile, they’re trying to work out when they should add the capers to their plutonium.

The other great story was the one about Pakistan. You can tell the story one way and it sounds like something we’ve heard dozens of times before: the police refused to take action against protest marches, so the government was forced to give in to the protestors’ demands. Heart warming stuff, but not exactly unprecedented.

But now add back in the essential ingredient I’d left out. The protestors were lawyers.

It’s the world upside down, isn’t it? I mean, these lawyers were expressing an opinion with no-one to pay them a fee?

In any case, how did anyone know whether to believe them?

They’re calling the man the protestors got reinstated ‘the people’s Chief Justice’. The people’s Chief Justice? In the past, I would have assumed that this was just another oxymoron like honest politician, airline food or American humility.

But in a world where the poor and underprivileged can see the battle against corruption and abuse of power being spearheaded by a bunch of lawyers, anything is possible.

And just knowing that the world is that exciting is a powerful antidote to the gloom that permeates the news most of the time.

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