Monday, March 15, 2004

The events in Spain in the last few days reminded me of Monty Python's "Army Protection Racket" sketch:

Sergeant Two civilian gentlemen to see you ... sir!
Colonel Show them in please, sergeant.
Sergeant Mr Dino Vercotti and Mr Luigi Vercotti.
The Vercotti brothers enter. They wear Mafia suits and dark glasses.

Dino Good morning, colonel.
Colonel Good morning gentlemen. Now what can I do for you.
Luigi (looking round office casually)You've ... you've got a nice army base here, colonel.
Colonel Yes.
Luigi We wouldn't want anything to happen to it.
Colonel What?
Dino No, what my brother means is it would be a shame if... (he knocks something off mantel)
Colonel Oh.
Dino Oh sorry, colonel.

The basic joke of an entire nation's military being hit up for protection money by Mafia thugs was so absurd, even to the Pythons, that they ended the sketch by having the colonel declare, " No, the whole premise is silly and it's very badly written. I'm the senior officer here and I haven't had a funny line yet. So I'm stopping it."

But today, as we see the spectacle of an entire national electorate falling for what is essentially a thuggish protection racket on a grand scale, it's not so absurd an idea.

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