Friday, 1 June 2018

International odds and ends.

A vote of no confidence has removed Mariano Rajoy from office in Spain. That seems to have been coming for a while. “It has been an honour to be the prime minister of Spain,” Rajoy told parliament shortly before the vote. “It has been an honour to leave a better Spain than the one I found. I hope that my successor will be able to say the same when his time comes.” I wonder in what respect Spain is better for having had Rajoy in charge!

Anyway, that’s another European country in a precarious state of stability!

In a curious bit of contrast from one European country to another, the German state of Bavaria has ruled that all public institution buildings must display a cross, indicating that this is a Christian place. France, on the other hand, still bans all religious symbols in public institutions.

Elsewhere in Germany, in the town of Lünebach, two lions, two tigers, a jaguar and a bear escaped from the zoo, prompting police to advise residents to stay inside their homes. Nobody seems to know how they broke out. I wondered if John Irving had anything to do with it. After all, his novel “Setting Free the Bears” was about a German zoo.

A Canadian ice cream company took the name of “Sweet Jesus” because that is one of the expressions that people use to express their bliss on tasting wonderful ice cream. That’s their explanation anyway. The company did well and wanted to expand into the USA. There they hit a name problem because Christian groups say that their name is sacrilegious and must be changed.

Oh boy!

I wonder how these Christians feel about Hispanics called Jesús!

When Molière wrote his play “Tartuffe” (which, incidentally, I studied as part of my A Level French course long ago) it was initially banned in 17th century France as an anti-Catholic play. Now the English playwright Christopher Hampton (who studied Molière as part of a Modern Languages degree at university) has revamped it in a bilingual version.

He has relocated it to the United States of Donald Trump and Harvey Weinstein. The wealthy man who is tricked by the hypocrite Tartuffe has become a French movie producer who buys a Hollywood studio. Christopher Hampton said, “The reason I set it in America is that they do still take religion very seriously. And the idea of someone coming out of the desert, as it were, in California and being charismatic and taken up by rich people is much easier to accommodate.”

There you go. In America they take their religion seriously.

Incidentally, Christopher Hampton’s play is bilingual, involving French actors, but it could well be, indeed it may be inevitable, that Brexit will make it harder for EU actors to get work permits. “Yes,” says Hampton. “So maybe the first bilingual Molière production in the West End will also be the last.”

Another unforeseen consequence of Brexit!

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