The avian gourmand

Yairs. … The first commentator upon my piece today at Catholic Thing (here), the learned Michael Paterson-Seymour, suggests my “review and outlook” for Greece is too optimistic. The notion that they might recover cannot be right. For any way you look at it, they’re in checkmate. The average age in that country is now greater than that of Alexis Tsipras; the average woman bears only one child and one-third; there aren’t enough left of child-bearing age to reverse the trend towards extinction, and as the gentleman so delicately puts it, “By the end of the century, their language will be spoken exclusively in hell.”

They could still be “Euro-rescued,” indeed: but that is the worst thing that could happen, over a longer term that is growing ever shorter.

Yet, in the daily evolution of the news, we are told that Angela Merkel is blinking, that the French have undermined German resolve, that some sort of “package” may still be hashed together, since the Greeks are getting scared, and learning to say “please.” Notwithstanding Greek promises have been false in the past, and those of Greek socialists are notoriously worthless, and this latest lot of Greek socialists is exceptionally irresponsible — their bankers are expected to take them at their word, on their latest promises to “reform.” This time, we are to suppose, they won’t just take the money and run until the next crisis meeting.

I should think a banker who would consider offering such as Tsipras and Syriza a last-minute bailout, is just not a man.

And Angela (with that delicious hard-G), well, “at least she’s a woman,” as a Canadian parliamentarian once replied, when heckled across the floor that he was “in bed with Thatcher.” … While offensively Prussian in moments, she has an “iron lady” reputation that strikes me as unearned. … She has noticed that German taxpayers are picking up the tab for Greek pensioners who get more than Germans. … How dare she wimp out! …


Now seriously, gentle reader, we are being reminded that there is truly no way out — no foreseeable practical and material escape — from the Nanny State web we have woven. Except by catastrophe, and/or miracle. My fascination with Greece is, as I have said, to see what happens as that state breaks down. Greece is unrepresentative in some ways; she never was a truly Western country, and thus even her way of abandoning the Christian faith is different from the Western. Since the West freed her from the Infidel Turk, Greece has had the luxury to pick and choose between spiritual destinies. The West offered three: the Catholic, the Protestant, and the Revolutionary. Greece chose to dress her post-Byzantine, Orthodox self in the robes of Marianne, goddess of fake Liberty. They don’t fit, can’t, and she has experienced one wardrobe malfunction after another. Whereas the French, whom she most likes to emulate, at least know how to carry off satanic modernism in style.

Notwithstanding, the material facts of Nanny State are universal, and Greece can now serve as an illustration of their consequences — for the simple reason that she has made more mistakes, faster, than any other European country.

My fondest hope was that the failure of Greece would provoke a genuine re-assessment of the European Union. My worst fear is that it would instead make Europe’s commissars circle their wagon (the EU flag unintentionally represents this), and advance the continental nannyism in the vain belief that they can somehow save it. This, I observe, is what most likely happens. Or to put this another way, for the third time in a century, Europe has embarked on a mission of self-destruction, and will not turn back.

The correct response, to my humble mind, would have been on two fronts. First, to acknowledge that Greece can’t pay, and therefore write off the debts. Let them start again from scratch, according to their lights, providing whatever humanitarian aid can be afforded, but making clear it is a gift, and therefore delivering it through visibly European (and North American) agencies. Never let anyone think he is receiving gifts by right, and thus confuse gifts with payment. But don’t kick Greece out of anything; they have as much right to use euros while unwinding as the Argentines had to use U.S. dollars through their last bankruptcy. In defiance of post-modern sentimentalism, I would say it is possible to be both charitable, and firm.

Second, to begin a peaceful disassembly of most of the pan-European scheme, including the euro currency, which doesn’t and can’t work. Restore marks, francs, lire, pesetas; but also gradually downsize the Brussels bureaucracy to what it can and did do reasonably well — as a clearing house for trade transactions. This would be sane, now the ambition of a “European nation” is proved to have been foolish in itself. It would be insane, politically, to leave it to the member countries’ respective nationalist lunatics to achieve the same end by jingo, with the violence that follows inevitably from that.

It is in this greater (political, not religious) light that I think another bailout for Greece is a horror. It means Europe’s politicians are accelerating down a blind alley — the political equivalent of “the spirit of Vatican II.”


I stand accused, by a most solemn and condescending correspondent, of mistreating my finches. Not only do I demand of them conformity to my Weltanschauung — a reasonable exchange, I would have thought, for my unending supply of sunflower seeds. (I care not what they think, or even what they say, elsewhere; so long as heresies are not chirped upon my balconata.) It is suggested that I am not providing them with a well-balanced diet.

This lady keeps finches herself — in a cage. Consider that, gentle reader. They are a poor pair of Gouldian finches, locked in that prison. A cage, mind you — open to inspection and gawping from all sides. And a pair — arbitrarily forced into co-habitation. A finch must choose his own mate; of this I am assured by all my avian acquaintances. They do not appreciate an arranged marriage.

I am told that I must vary my seeds, that I must mix sunflower with safflower, rapeseed, flax, whatever. That, rather than such filler as millets (which I have already abandoned, as ground feed), I should be providing “millet spray” for my finches to joyfully pick away at. (I’ll perhaps consider it.) That they need protein from some boiled egg mixture. (Does she think they are cannibals?) That they need live insects. (But plenty volunteer themselves.) That I should buy pellets from some wretched pet store. (No person of the authentically Scotch coloration would enter such a place.) That they want leafy greens to shred apart. That I should choose brightly-coloured vegetables and fruits, and grate apples for them, and broccoli, and carrots, and so on through the alphabet. And then clean up after, lest any of this feast start rotting.

My finches will continue to get sunflower seeds — and those only of the striped variety, which offend the beaks of the pigeons. No soft-shelled “black oil” varieties from me. And they will take them raw, unsalted, and unsorted. And if they defect to some liberal’s birdfeeder, good riddance to them. I want only Tory birds on my balconata, who take what they can get then push off.

These are not Greek finches, lady.

No Nanny State up here in the High Doganate!