Sunday, 31 May 2009

Strasbourg asparagus and Susan

Back in Strasbourg, where the temperatures are even pleasanter than they were in England where we left. We got here just in time, too: the asparagus season is just about to end so it was not just a pleasure but a relief to be invited to an asparagus-fest by friends here. They served us mountains of the things washed down by excellent Alsatian wine, in the courtyard of their converted farmhouse home: an idyllic way to recover from thirteen hours by car yesterday.

Incidentally, the asparagus over here doesn’t usually look anything like what we’re used to England: you don’t often see the green ones. Mostly it’s much fatter and white. Farmers pile up earth over the plants as they grow, which is why they get thicker and don’t turn green. Nothing wrong with the green ones, of course, which are also produced over here, but you need to try the white ones if you don't already know them.

Green and white asparagus: both worth knowing

The other relief about being in France again is that the radio isn’t dominated by continuous talk of MPs’ expenses. It’s clear that British MPs have been fiddling the system pretty generally. On the other hand, if we simply took the full amount they could claim and added it to their salary, they would still be earning only £9000 a year more than the basic salary of a French MP and £3000 a year more than a German MP. They’d also be earning two-thirds of what we pay a judge at the Central Criminal Court, and surely there has to be some argument for valuing about as highly the people who make the laws as those who apply them? Then we could simply drop the whole expenses system – they wouldn’t be able to claim anything extra – and they’d be free to spend their money as they liked, on cleaning moats or building floating duck houses or refurbishing houses hundreds of miles from their constituency or parliament. And no-one would complain.

Which would be a great relief to any radio listener.

Though French radio wasn’t talking about British MPs, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t talking about Britain. It just preferred to talk about Susan Boyle and the chances of her singing her way to victory in the ‘Britain’s got talent’ show. They described her as having an angelic voice but looks that are less so.

A slightly cruel way of describing the eventual runner up. But not entirely false…

Looks less angelic than the voice

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