Issue 110: 2017 06 22: RA Summer Exhibition (William Morton)

22 June 2017

The RA Summer Exhibition

Royal Academy, 13 June – 20 August

Reviewed by William Morton

copyright David Tindle

The Summer Exhibition is fun.  Each Academician has the right to submit six works, and the public is invited to submit a maximum of two each for possible inclusion.  This year 12,500 items were put forward by the public, of which 1,200 were selected for hanging.  The result is an extraordinary mixture of art ranging from works by established artists priced at £100,000 or more to amateur works for sale for a few hundred pounds.

There is a certain confidence about the work of the established figures,  and one can understand why these artists are well-known.  Anish Kapoor’s sculpture Unborn is really punchy even though perhaps not easy to live with. Tracey Emin’s neon signs such as I did not say I can never love you I said I could never love certainly catch the eye.  Anthony Gormley’s Fall manages to create a looming figure in an abstract woodcut.  There is a clinically beautiful sculpture Silent Journey by Ann Christopher.  Established artists who did not impress, however, were Gilbert and George whose Beard Speak 2016 seemed a fairly simple idea worked up to a degree it did not deserve.

copyright Stephen Cox

An enjoyable element of the Exhibition is the wacky art (although, again, many of the works you might want to take home only if you are Charles Saatchi with your own gallery).  One fine example is Stephen Cox’s Butter Puja consisting of a series of stone heads daubed with pats of butter.  Then there is a painting where the ‘canvas’ consists of machete blades.  There are thrones by Gonçalo Mabunda made up of bullet cases, rifle magazines and mortar bombs.  There is a letter to Mr Trump in the form of an LP cover taking him to task over his wall.  Picasso’s Busy Day is a cartoon showing the great man, inter alia, on the lavatory and depositing large sums of money at his bank.  Two large stuffed but ragged figures mounted on rockers with banknotes in their mouths are apparently Defending Integrity from the Power That Be (Tim Shaw).

Both the public and members of the Academy are represented by ‘mainstream’ art works, many of them appealing.  They include a number of Sickert-style nudes, paintings of gardens and flowers and Joe Root and plentiful scenes of Venice.

There are also many photographs and some works made of fabric, but none made a great impression. Video films are, of course, now a major art form and some (very highly priced in two cases) are included in the Exhibition.  The picture quality is fantastic but the overall effect seemed, to me at least, as often with this art form, just rather pretentious.  A room full of detailed architectural drawings is more intriguing and one could, for example, well imagine putting a cut-away ground plan of Mexico City Airport on the wall.

copyright Howard Phipps

What art does the great British public like?  Judging by the red ‘sold’ stickers at the Exhibition, it likes prints or woodcuts of the countryside, boats and the sea.  These are among the cheapest items and that no doubt is one reason for their popularity but I do not think it the only reason.  You are onto a winner if that is your line as an artist.

 

 

 

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Issue 110: 2017 06 22: Garden Review, Barbara Hepworth St. Ives (J R Thomas)

22 June 2017

Gems Amongst Jewels

Trewyn Studio Garden, St. Ives

by J.R.Thomas

If you are going to create a garden, Cornwall is probably just about the best place in the British Isles to do it.  The climate is wonderfully benign, aided by some sidewash from the gulf stream and the moderating influence of the sea; to say nothing of large infusions of rain water, though mostly delivered in the autumn and winter, with summer sea frets to keep plants moistly happy, if not the tourists.  There is rarely frost; careful choosing of the site, and judicious planting of shelter, will protect from the winter gales.  Indeed, the Cornish garden owner will soon find that the problem is not getting things to grow, but keeping that growth under some sort of control, if all is not to be submerged in a jungle of lushness.

Tranquil garden scene with sculpture and old cherry tree

Stone Sculpture (Fugue II  to the left, embraced by the cherry tree)

Which all goes to suggest that Dame Barbara Hepworth and those devotees to her memory who now tend her garden need to be aces with the secateurs and devotees of the lopping knife.  And with especially good reason in the garden which she made at Trewyn Studio, her home and workplace in St Ives on the north coast of Cornwall.  The Sculpture Garden is well hidden in the crowded townscape of St Ives and surprises visitors to the studio displays as they walk out of the back door into this sheltered but north east facing space.  It feels surprisingly large, yet initial exploration soon reveals to the musing visitor that the garden is in truth of modest size but carefully planned and generously planted.  That planting gives impressions of enclosure but also releases views from one glade to another and outwards across the town roofs to the Atlantic waves endlessly shaping the north Cornish coast.  The contrast with the rolling acres of woodland and paddocks around Henry Moore’s studio in Hertfordshire is startling, and, one suspects, most have caused those two fellow Yorkshirepersons and great friends some amusement.

Miss Hepworth lived in the house and worked in the adjacent studio from 1949 until her death in 1975, and the garden was partly her workplace.  It contains her workshops, the wonderfully old fashioned greenhouse which she used both for plants and drying her casts, and a huge outdoor turntable which was used for carving.  The garden contains a number of finished works, in particular three large stone sculptures, and eighteen bronzes which she retained as the artist’s copies from commissioned works.  Most evocative perhaps is the store of stone pieces waiting for the sculptor’s chisel that was wielded no more after 1975.

These are positioned amongst a range of plants set mostly as sheltering enclosures; but all dominated by a huge central cherry tree, which has flourished on this sheltered hillside, its long declining branches forming a lichened frame off which parts of the garden seem to hang.  The garden, like so many Cornish gardens, is probably at its best in spring, but Dame Barbara gardened for year-long interest and to form those bowers for her sculpture. Castor oil plants and bamboo groves help perform this function to great effect.

the stone store

One of the problems in a small garden which is intensely used and open most of the year is renewing and refreshing the planting.  Some of the shrubs and trees have really grown too big to properly fulfil their function in the design, but to take them out would create gaps in what is after all a modest space.  No doubt most of the visitors who walk round are looking mostly at the sculptures, which are indeed magnificent and compelling, and are probably almost unaware of their carefully crafted setting.  But even temporary holes in the planting would strike a discordant note, and one can only have sympathy for the gardener who must manage the renewal in so delicate a manner.  The ageing cherry tree in particular must be a subject of troubled dreams.

 

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Issue 110: 2017 06 22: Theatre Review – Tosca

22 June 2017

Tosca

Grange Park Opera, West Horsley

reviewed by Adam McCormack.

If you unexpectedly inherited a crumbling country pile with 300 acres, what would you do with it?  This is exactly what happened to former TV presenter Bamber Gascoigne, who was left a sixteenth century manor house in West Horsley by his aunt, and his altruistic response was to allow an opera house to be built in the grounds.  Fortunately, there was a ready-made opera company in need of a new home, for whom Mr. Gascoigne’s inheritance has proved serendipitous.

The great news is that the relocation of Grange Park Opera from Hampshire to West Horsley has done nothing to undermine the impressive quality of their operas.  Their first production, Tosca, brilliantly highlights the truly remarkable achievement of building a new theatre, based on the 4-tiered horseshoe shape of La Scala, Milan, from scratch in less than a year.  A current lack of air-conditioning or permanent bathrooms might not be ideal given the current hot spell, but a 99-year lease should give plenty of time to sort that out (along with a £10mn fundraising programme) and tickets for productions will continue to be gold dust.

Perhaps because of the need to keep the previous regulars happy, director Peter Relton takes few risks with this production of Puccini’s Tosca, but given the quality of the performers and the auditorium he didn’t need to.  The shift in setting from Rome in 1800 to one more akin to that of Mussolini works very well in conveying an environment of fear and oppression, and the drama is played with maximum pathos.  Francis O’Connor’s set utilizes the impressive stage perfectly; shifting from cloistered church, to grand offices of state, prison and those perilous battlements.  When one looks at the cast it is no surprise that the singing is top notch.  Securing Joseph Calleja to play Florian Tosca’s true love, the painter Caravadossi was an undoubted coup, but Roland Wood more than holds his own as a suitably malevolent rival Baron Scarpia.  Ekaterina Metlova certainly looks the part of Tosca, which she sang beautifully, although at times her hand gestures seemed a little self-conscious and wooden.  This is a very minor criticism in an otherwise excellent production and the pacing, by including a second interval between acts 2 and 3, helps the audience sustain their enrapture on a sweltering evening.

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Issue 108: 2017 06 08: Contents

08 June 2017: Issue 108

The week’s news –

your chance to catch up:

Image of elliptical decal with £$€ and Financial News caption

Comment

 

Following The Oracle by John Watson

Has Mrs May misjudged her position?

Doing The Splits by J R Thomas

After May, who?

Another “Re…” Word by Richard Pooley

The refreshing French revolution.

Continuing the “Property v Pension” Debate by Frank O’Nomics

Evidence in support of pensions is growing.

Meltdown In Qatar by R D Shackleton

Why this matters for the UK.

Features

Of The Yard? by Chin Chin

A career in detection beckons.

RoboVicar by Neil Tidmarsh

Move over, Father Brown and Grantchester, there’s a new holy sleuth in town!

Reviews

Common (by D C Moore)

At the National Theatre

reviewed by Adam McCormack.

Puzzles, Cartoons and Calendar

Cartoons by AGGro.

Crossword by Boffles: “Plain Vanilla 21”.

Solution to the last crossword “Election Special”.

Quiz by Boffles

Answers to Quiz

What’s on in June 2017 by AGGro

Earlier EditionsLarge 600x271 stamp prompting the reader to join the subscription list

Issue 103: 04 May 2017

Issue 104: 11 May 2017

Issue 105: 18 May 2017

Issue 106: 25 May 2017

Issue 107: 01 June 2017

Issue 109:2017 06 15: My Cousin Rachel (Adam McCormack)

15 June 2017

My Cousin Rachel

A film by Roger Michell

reviewed by Adam McCormack.

Did she or didn’t she? When Ingrid Bergman was praised for her acting in Casablanca on the basis that reviewers were unable to work out whether she really loved Paul Henreid or Humphrey Bogart, she confessed that this was because she had no idea of the right answer herself.  This is not the case with Rachel Weisz’s portrayal of Rachel in Daphne Du Maurier’s classic gothic novel. The difference here is that Weis has decided whether she really did poison the cousin, and former guardian, of Philip Ashley and is now trying to do the same to him, but she is refusing to tell anyone.  It is this enigmatic performance that raises the level of an otherwise standard suspense story to a classier psychological thriller.

Philip (played with perfect puppy-like qualities by Sam Claflin) has been convinced by his cousin’s letters that Ambrose’s wife Rachel, seemingly in cahoots with the enigmatic Rainaldi, has been slowly poisoning him. When Rachel comes to visit her dead husband’s Cornish estate, Philip is prepared to confront her with her crime.  However, when they finally meet, Philip and all around him (including the audience) melt under the charms of Rachel.  Philip falls in love with Rachel, and on gaining access to his fortune on his twenty-fifth birthday pledges to give to all to her – hoping that she will marry him.  It is only when we hear more about (and witness) details of Rachel’s sexual appetite and preoccupation with administering herbal teas that we start to re-question her motives.  Femme fatale, modern woman or poisoning psychopath?  These are questions that this film very skillfully presents.

If one goes beyond the performances, which include a subtle cameo from Simon Russell Beale as Philips’s solicitor, the film does not stand up quite so well.  The settings, in Tuscany and Cornwall, are beautiful but needlessly enhanced by some less than convincing CGI – Florence in the distance and random sailing ships on the horizon.  While on the face of it this is a gothic tale, and the strength of Du Maurier’s story still come to the fore, the presentation lacks depth and lacks the brooding depth of the book – but for the twists and denouement this would be bordering on a Mills and Boon tale.  Nevertheless, if you don’t already know the story, Rachel Weisz alone makes this worth seeing.

 

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Issue 108:2017 06 08:Common (Adam McCormack)

08 June 2017

Common

The National Theatre

reviewed by Adam McCormack

Common, a new play directed by Jeremy Herrin, opens with a scene reminiscent of The Wicker Man.  It is mid-summer 1809 and the local peasants, dressed in wicker masks, light a bonfire and sacrifice a pig.  This pagan ritual, however, comes at a time of great change for the locals, for the land that they live off is about to be taken from them.

The Enclosure Acts were a series of Acts of Parliament, consolidated in 1801, involving the enclosure of open fields to create legal property over land previously regarded as common.  This was land previously cultivated by peasants and the change was seminal in its effect on English History.  The process allowed more efficient farming techniques, which enhanced productivity and helped to feed the growing population which served the industrial revolution.  However, it also helped to change the relationship between those living off the land and those who came to manage it.  A new subservience was developing, which was not only economic, given the compulsion of farm workers to attend a Christian church. These are the changes that lie at the heart of Common.

Writer D C Moore makes this a revenge play, by telling the story of Mary (Anne-Marie Duff) who is returning to the village of her birth (funded by her earnings as a whore) to confront those that gave her up for dead in an accident some years earlier. In Moll Flanders-like asides to the audience she tells us to believe nothing that she says in her quest.  The environment she finds is one where the village has taken great exception to the actions of the weak local Lord (Tim McMullen) who is prosecuting the new act, and has deposited the sacrificed pig in his manor.

All of this sounds a compelling backdrop for a great play.  However, the development of the plot from this point on has serious shortcomings.  The play does have humour, but is so violent and macabre that its bawdy comedy sits somewhat uncomfortably.  There are also perhaps a few too many sub-plots regarding Mary’s family and the Lord’s absent wife, but it is really the confused nature of the narrative that leaves the play promising much that in the end is not quite delivered.  We are never quite sure of the motives of Mary, despite an at times mesmerizing performance by Anne-Marie Duff, and too much effort seems to have been expended in trying to shoe-horn in as many dramatic effects as possible – although this does again allow the National to demonstrate its ability to produce stunning sets (designed here by Richard Hudson), particularly surrounding the internment scenes.

For many the production may be redeemed by the performance of Anne-Marie Duff, with Tim McMullen quite superb as the Lord and Trevor Fox as his suitably profane henchman. Nevertheless, one is left disappointed that a great idea for a play delivers less than the sum of these creditable parts.

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Issue 107: 2017 06 01: Giacometti (William Morton)

01 June 2017

Giacometti

at Tate Modern (10 May – 10 September).

Reviewed by William Morton

Alberto Giacometti Estate

When one thinks of Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966), the image most likely to come to mind is one of his attenuated male or female statues.  However, these were produced at quite a late stage in his career when he had been a successful artist for many years.

He was born in Switzerland, the son of a moderately well-known painter, Giovanni Giacometti.  After attending art school in Geneva, he moved to Paris and remained there for the rest of his life, apart from the period from the fall of France until the end of the Second War when he was unable to return after a visit to Switzerland and had to remain in Geneva.

His work reflects many influences including Egyptian and African art, Cubism and the Surrealism movement with which he was deeply involved.  Sometimes, in his early career, he turned to design and a fine example of this in the exhibition is a stylised seagull.  He did not go in for monumental sculptures and some on show are very small.  Giacometti’s brilliance is his ability to convey the essence of something from a virtually featureless sculpture such as a minute one of a man with his hands in his pockets. Another, Man and Woman, gives a clear impression of sex with the merest hint at human bodies.  Many of his sculptures could be grotesque, so far do they stray from reality, yet they are not.

Giacometti tended to use members of his family and a few close friends as models, who were required to endure long sittings.  He had a slightly problematic brother called Diego, who became his studio assistant and an artist in his own right.  Giacometti’s wife Annette and Diego were the subject of a large number of works.  In a film shown in the exhibition, the artist says that he felt no need for a greater range of models as he had difficulty in tying down any person.  One cannot help feeling that he must have had some idea of the characters of his wife and brother.

He was a fine draughtsman and an accomplished painter as well as a sculptor.  In his pictures, he has the same ability to convey an image with a minimum of detail – except, I found, in a number of paintings of Diego, Annette and his mistress, Caroline.  These seemed to me to lack a human spark and to convey little of the sitter.

It is, however, Giacometti’s stylised sculptures such as the Chariot (an example of which was sold in 2014 for 100 million dollars), the Running Man and that of a Hand which are his masterpieces and which stick in the mind.

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Issue 106: 2017 05 25: The Magic Flute (reviewed by John Watson)

25 May 2017

The Magic Flute

King’s Head Theatre, Islington

*****

Reviewed by John Watson

Charles Court Opera, specialists in putting on opera in small places, is ideally suited to the Kings Head.  This production, directed by John Savournin, cuts the work to the bone.  The orchestra is replaced by a piano.  The running time is reduced to 135 minutes.  To describe it as “less than Mozart”, however, is to do it an injustice.  It is a first rate evening’s entertainment.

The young professional cast is highly talented and there are some changes in those playing the principal characters from night to night.  When I saw it, Oliver Brignall was Tamino and Nicola Said the Queen of the Night.  High points of an exceptional evening included Julian Debreuil’s Sarastro, his voice particularly stunning on the low notes, and Emily Jane Thomas as Pamina.  Still, in the end it was Matthew Kellett as Papageno who contributed most to the pace and style of the production – an exceptional performance and great singing too.

It is evenings like this which make you remember how lucky we are to have the Kings Head, producing this quality of performance at a very reasonable price.  It runs until 4 June.  Go and see it.

 

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Issue 105:2017 05 18: The Sense of an Ending (J.R.Thomas)

18 May 2017

The Sense of an Ending

A film by Ritash Batra.

reviewed by J.R.Thomas

The Shaw Sheet is not like other media sheets that your eye may occasionally fall on; we like to think through our views of events, consider what things might mean, and generally take our time, so that readers will get a properly balanced and thoughtful view of the world.  And anyway, when it comes to stage and silver screen, the Editor likes to wait until the cheap tickets are on sale.  Which probably means that by the time your critic has sat in the economy seats chewing his ageing biro for sagacious and considered thoughts, the movie or stage piece has moved on to Vue Bolton or to that mysterious video recording unit from which it might emerge in six months, or not.

Which may sadly be the case with this week’s film review.  A Sense of an Ending has been out two weeks and was never likely to pull in endless hordes of punters anyway.  That is in spite of a stellar cast and some crisp camera and sound work, and even with the benefit of the relatively recent publication of Julian Barnes’s book of the same title, which sold strongly in certain London postcodes and in good home county bookshops.  Mr Barnes has the ability to use few words to convey a lot with the welcome result that his books are both powerful, and short.  And thus easy to film, presumably.  Certainly, there seemed to be very few cuts made in the screen adaptation of A Sense of an Ending, which conveys the dilemma and difficulty of managing how we are seen by others and how we see ourselves, through the play of unexpected events over a month or so.

A little plotting first though.  Tony (Jim Broadbent) is an ageing middle class Londoner of mildly liberal tendencies running a small business, an antique camera shop.  As everything and anything in a Barnes novel can be significant, it may well be that the fact that his life centres round ageing instruments that record snapshots of life onto film – but also through a medium which crops and trims – is important.  It may be something, or one of a number of things indeed, which the reader, and viewer, should carefully note for later pondering.  Tony is divorced, from Margaret (Harriet Walter), and has a daughter in her mid 30’s (Michelle Dockery) who has deliberately chosen to become a single parent and is about to give birth.  But Tony, even on his best days a distracted grouch, has something on his mind.  He has been left £500 and a diary by the mother of a girl with whom he had an intense but short teenage affair.  We are about to start plot spoiling so will stop at this point.

No doubt though you are starting to get the idea.  Tony’s past, a perfectly normal past for a bright university graduate and small businessman, is starting to intrude on his present.  He confides in his ex-wife, frequently and at great length.  The ex is more than a bit miffed to find that none of these confidences came out during their marriage.  She is even more miffed by what she starts to find out about her ex-husband.  And if one can be triple miffed, she is so by a yet further, more detailed, and less reputable version that he tells her one evening.  There is some splendid acting by a very well put together cast here, with Broadbent and Walter and Charlotte Rampling as the leads, and very inspired casting of Billy Howle and Freya Mavor as the teenage incarnations of these now aged and agonising Londoners; to capture realistically the youth of a character now forty years or more older is not easy, but it is done convincingly enough here.

A lot of  critics in lesser publications, and indeed in on-line chat rooms and the like, have complained that what is going on in the film, and perhaps more so in the book, right up to and beyond the end, is not clear.  “What,” cry the chatroom inhabitants “is the meaning of the ending?”  And what do all the lingering camera shots portend; what is the significance of the fried eggs that go so wrong, the little wave after that strange sexually charged weekend away?

The clue, one might suggest, is in the title. That is the point of the work.  Barnes is not, we suspect, going to put a little note on some blog to explain what X meant, and how Y should be understood, and how they all lived happily ever after, let alone how best to fry eggs.  That is what his book is seeking to convey; that generally we don’t live happily ever after, nor, thankfully, unhappily ever after.  We just get on with life, polishing it and smoothing it and forgetting the very embarrassing bits, to say nothing of amplifying the bits which show us in the best light. (I met Prince Philip once; you know, he was very funny.  I did, and he was, and the other fifteen or so people clustered sycophantically and silently around him no doubt thought so too.) We adjust history to impress our friends a bit, but also to make it possible to live with ourselves, so we don’t spend our entire old age agonising over past embarrassments and stupidities. Then we forget the adjustments and believe that is how it was.

But sometimes, as for Tony, the truth of the past intrudes into our present, a shark’s fin breaking into the smooth water in which we like to swim along.  Then we have to adjust the published version of what we told everybody; and if the shark rises higher out of the water, we might find that further adjustment becomes necessary.  That is what is happening to poor old Tony, and if it happens to you, pray that you have a Margaret to patiently listen to you amending your amendments.

Even so, sometimes we have hidden some truths so much from ourselves that, actually, we don’t really know what they are until that shark takes a bite.  And if the shark swims off, we may be left still not knowing what we really did, how crass or hurtful we really were.  Time to polish up another ending, or at least, a sense of an ending.  Barnes is saying, that this is how most of us rumble along; we never quite know everything – even about ourselves.  And life goes on, until it stops.  Then our best hope is that we can leave behind a nice version of who we are, and that nothing unpleasant comes out, so awful that nobody will ever come to lay flowers on our graves.

A Sense of an Ending is a small story, a parable for modern times.  It is what might happen, does happen, to me or you or the man on the underground with the sad face.  We never tell all and certainly will never know all, but would we really want to?

“A Sense of an Ending” by Julian Barnes, adapted for film by Nick Payne, and directed by Ritash Batra, is currently showing at Curzon and independent cinemas (and possibly at the Vue Bolton). No doubt it will soon be on video if you miss it; or the book is out in paperback.

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Issue 104:2017 05 11 : Adults in the Room(Peter Hanratty)

11 May 2017

Adults in the Room

A book by Yanis Varoufakis

Reviewed by Peter Hanratty, Madagascar British Chamber of Commerce

The book written by Yanis Varoufakis and subtitled “My Battle With Europe’s Deep Establishment” describes his time as Minister of Finance for Greece, when he was charged with leading debt negotiations with the EU Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF during the first five months of 2015.

It is an important book.  Whether you agree or disagree with his views, Varoufakis has written a “must read” for anyone involved in Brexit trade negotiations and, indeed, anyone who wishes to understand where the imminent Brexit discussions may lead.  The title of the book is a quote from Christine Lagarde (Head of the IMF) apparently asking after a lengthy negotiation session whether there were any “Adults in the room”?

On the negative side – as I perceive it – the book perhaps has two weaknesses.  First its length.  At 550 pages dealing with approximately 160 days, it is truly a blow by blow account, something which inevitably leads to repetition of the same points, valid as they are.  Secondly the book – given its length –  glosses over how Greece found itself technically bankrupt, something which gives colour to the hard line reaction against Varoufakis.  Indeed Varoufakis himself rather enjoyed cultivating a rebellious image of leather jacket, motor bike and communist credentials which,  together with his outspoken approach,  clearly did not endear him to European decision makers.

The negatives however are far outweighed by the extraordinary quality.  Firstly – especially in the opening chapters – it is beautifully written.  The reader is left in little doubt about the exceptional intellect of Varoufakis who manages to explain complex economic issues clearly.

His ongoing thesis is repeated throughout the book – namely that The European Commission, European Central Bank and IMF (Troika) continually enforce on Greece repeated bail outs – with each bail out exerting more stringent conditions and making it impossible for the economy to grow or to attract private investment.  This results inevitably in greater social hardship.  New money coming in is merely used to repay interest and debt from the Troika themselves, who dare not see any debt being forgiven lest other EU countries demand the same treatment.

Valoufakis makes the point that Greece wishes to remain in the EU and is merely asking for common sense with repayments linked to economic growth.  This is refused by the “Eurogroup” of Financial Ministers.

Negotiating with the Troika is almost impossible. They make it clear they are accountable to individual countries but, when Varoufakis seeks to deal with these countries, they refer him to the Troika.  It reminds me of my own time working for a European Bank which had experienced several mergers but where the decision making was left unresolved, resulting in three head offices and two credit committees.  Each credit committee deferred to the other although the same people sat on each, conveniently avoiding difficult decisions.  Varoufakis describes the same culture.

He sees Brussels as a “democracy free zone”.  Indeed when Varoufakis explained that he had just been elected by Greek voters, the powerful German Finance Minister ominously replied that “elections cannot be allowed to change the economic programme of member states.”

The worry for Brexit negotiators is typically characterized by Varoufakis in the Eagles song “Hotel California” – “You can check out any time you like – but you can never leave”.

Since in his view Brexit negotiations with the EU are impossible – he suggests the UK adopt the “Norway Solution”, becoming part of the European Economic Area.  While this is not perfect it could provide an interim solution allowing unimpeded trade with the EU while allowing time to set up trading agreements elsewhere.

A remarkable book.

 

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