Thursday, September 24, 2009

The letter I

Here's a story that has virtually all the elements you could want: gambling, hookers, the mafia, royalty and – that rarest of things – an Italian sex and bribery scandal that does not involve Silvio Berlusconi. All that's missing is a few Nazis and you'd have the perfect newspaper story.

The son of Italy's last king is to stand trial on charges connected to the alleged recruitment of prostitutes for a casino and the rigging of slot machines.

The House of Savoy might well be equipped to lead Italy in the modern era, after all.

But here's the curious thing; every country that has a name that starts with the letter "i" has its banana-republic elements (at least, Iran and Iraq are worse). There's Ireland, the land of Haughey, a wide assortment of gombeens, sleveens, cute hoors and, well, Fianna Fáil (itself founded by a chap who managed to rip off a group of Irish Americans and the plain people of Ireland in setting up the family business). India's survival as democracy is something of a triumph - but one in four members of parliament is facing criminal charges.

Then there is Israel. A couple of former cabinet ministers were jailed last month, the former president is accused of rape, the foreign minister is under investigation for suspected tax evasion and money laundering. Oh, and the former PM is going on trial for fraud tomorrow.

This detail struck me.

Among charities [Ehud Olmert] is accused of double-billing were the Simon Weisenthal Centre, the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum and the World Jewish Congress, according to the Ha'aretz newspaper.

Now, I don't claim to be an expert in Israeli society and politics, but I would have thought that defrauding the national Holocaust memorial charity was thought of thing Israeli society would take an especially dim view of, especially if you are PM.

Anyway, what it is about countries beginning with "i"? In all these cases it's hard to avoid the view that the Scandinavians might have managed things in a better (if less flamboyantly entertaining) manner. Expect some stonking great scandal from the Isle of Man some day.

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Blogger Vincent said...

My dear Bill, the only fault in your argument is that you could pick any other letter in the alphabet and come to a similar discover.

6:04 am  
Blogger Vincent said...


6:04 am  

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