Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Civitavecchia, Flashpoint between Church and Local Council

Eviction of immigrants from a church refuge in Civitavecchia. A very Italian story, in so many ways. From Corriere della Sera, 13 August 2013, article:
Civitavecchia is a port about seventy kilometres north-west of Rome. Cruise ships pull in there and people are taken by coach to see Rome from behind the bus windows. The town has a beach and lungomare with cafés and an old centre. Aside from the port area it is not too bad a place.
In what is called the suburbs of the town, though little more than a kilometre from the old town centre, is a church dedicated to Padre Pio, or San Pio as he now is. Writeup on who Padre Pio was: The parish church of San Pio is quite a modern building, photo at http://www.asiweb.biz/popian/.
The church of San Pio has been giving shelter to immigrants from north Africa, for as the bishop, Monsignor Luigi Marrucci, says, remembering the bitter story of San Pio: ‘A point of reference, a place of welcome, a refuge.’
Which is all very well, when you have a few people seeking refuge, but when more arrive almost daily, then the refuge has a distinct tendency to become overcrowded and insanitary, which is what has happened at San Pio. It is called by Corriere della Sera a ‘lager’, the newspaper uses the German word for a camp, I find on the Dictionary pages of Corriere della Sera that by extension from a concentration camp, the word lager is used in Italian to mean an institution or community managed in ways that are inhuman. That is the first time I have come across the word used in that way in Italian, but seeing as it is in the Corriere dell Sera dictionary, I assume it is fairly widely understood like that.
And when you welcome people of all sorts, you will get some who may be less than law-abiding by nature, and in the area around San Pio local people have been complaining of ‘violent episodes such as bag-snatching and assaults’.
On the night of 10 August the carabinieri moved in and evicted fifty people housed in the church, handing them over to the local authority, the Comune. This being Italy, the police did not inform the Comune that they were going to do this, so the Comune suddenly found itself with fifty migrants on its hands and was totally unprepared to deal with them.
The Comune found an empty warehouse at the port for the migrants to stay in temporarily, but as deputy major Enrico Luciani says, ‘None has the status of political refugee and many have a permesso di soggiorno. For them the assistance of the Comune is finished. The town has always had a robust and humanitarian approach to those who arrive on the territory in search of help, and the hospitality given to Nigerians near to the diocese is an example – unfortunately however when charity gives way to social disorder, it is in the natural order of things that the primary needs are those of the residents - of putting residents first.’
So the position of the police is clear, the stance of the Comune is clear – the migrants are in the warehouse for now but we’ll have no more to do with them. What about the Church?
Well that is equally as characteristically typical as the police and local authority are typically firm and distant. Typically it is a bit hard to follow. The archbishop is perhaps the clearest in saying that the disinterest being shown by the authorities with regard to people who are clearly vulnerable and in a state of distress is a disgrace and wrong. Though aside from criticism of others he does not appear to be offering much by way of solution himself. That fits. The local diocese – is that the bishop? – formally asked for the evictions to take place on the grounds of sanitation and hygiene, though the bishop himself seems to be going on about how those who follow the teachings of San Pio should welcome anyone who is in need. Meanwhile the Curia, the local management of the church, are suggesting they don’t think there is a problem, they say they have never been approached with complaints by any official – all that is if I have understood what the newspaper article says correctly.
Among the things that make this so Italian are the disinterest of the authorities, the lack of communication between official bodies, the muddled and mixed messages from the Church, and riding above all of that, what Italy is going to do about its immigrants, who grow in number by the day, as do the stories of squalor, riots, lawlessness and distress. Which the politicians in Italy seem to be turning their backs on, apart from the Lega Nord whose pronouncements suggest that they have little idea that there are human beings involved here. For those such as me who take an interest in the future of Italy this is all very poignant, though not very pleasant to watch, as whichever way you look it seems it will only get worse.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Would a Daily Mail Reader Do This?

The 15th of August, the main summer holiday in Italy, called ferragosto, a boat beached in shallow water close to the shore near Syracuse in Sicily. The boat was carrying 160 illegal immigrants, among whom women ‘in stato interessante’', literally ‘in an interesting state’, i.e. in plain English, up the duff, (Italian euphemisms are so quaint!) and about fifty children, most under three-years-old. Someone on the beach called the coastguard and others swam out to help them, the people from the beach formed a human chain to get the migrants safely to shore, assisting the coastguard boat that arrived quite promptly.
Giorgio Neapolitano, the president of Italy, has said that this episode gives credit to whole of Italy. While the undersecretary of the xenophobic Lega Nord, Matteo Silvini, has said of Neapolitano’s expressed solidarity with the migrants, ‘What bollocks! Now they are being honoured by Mr Neapolitano?’:
But I wonder. I wonder what Mr Silvini would have done, had he been on the beach at the time. Would he have let the children drown?
He might have run away, but I don’t think he would stand and watch people die – for migrants have died, even that close to shore, this happened only last week:
Words are easy, when you are at the other end of the country.
And yes, I think a Daily Mail reader would do this, if it came to it. Throwing all prejudice aside. But what’s the betting the esteemed bringer of all significant world news don’t report it? The Mail reports tragedies and dramas from around the world, but selectively; people showing human empathy towards immigrants, especially illegal immigrants, and especially especially black illegal immigrants, would be a step too far for that newspaper, would negate so much of what it professes to stand for, so it is understandable, looked at from their point of view, that this event stays unreported. Yes I can quite understand that.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Police Attacked in front of a Holy Shrine

Police attacked in front of a holy shrine – it says in Il Messaggero.
The newspaper report, in Italian:
This was at the Santuario Madonna dell’Ambro in the Sibillini mountains in the Marche region of Italy. Wednesday 14 August 2013. Madonna dell'Ambro is a large church, or maybe not a church, maybe it just looks like a church, set in a valley in wild, wooded mountain countryside. It gets lots of visitors, coach parties as well as people driving there in their own cars. So . . .
It will attract those people who want to sell something to the visitors, which these days will include migrants from Africa, the so-called ambulanti abusivi, unofficial street traders.
According to the newspaper report, street traders from North Africa turned up, and the sales concession-holders, some of whom have been established there quite a long time, called the police to have them removed, whereupon the unofficial traders attacked the police, it says. Well it is quite a long way from anywhere to get to Madonna dell'Ambro, and we do not know whether these unlicensed traders walked there or got a lift from some minders, quite possibly the second and they will be in trouble if they come back having sold nothing, so perhaps they thought a fight with the police the less painful option.
Anyway, at the request of the concession holders, a patrol of carabinieri from Montemonaco went to the location at about 11 in the morning, following reports of tension between the itinerant traders over the assignation of places, they were occupying spaces that were assigned to the licensed traders. When the patrol arrived the unofficial traders ‘manifesting a strong disappointment’ attacked the police, but were stopped by the other traders who ‘intervened to block the hotheads’.
The police called reinforcements, who came from the carabinieri stations at Comunanza, Force and Amandola – quite a force. Two of the aggressors, both Moroccans living in Francavilla d’Ete – a fair old walk from Madonna dell'Ambro, about thirty miles – were identified and taken to the police barracks in Amandola. They will be arrested for violence to a public official and for aggravated injury and are due to appear before magistrates in Ascoli Piceno on 16 August.
The two policemen who were injured have reported, ‘fortunately’, abrasions that will get better within a few days.
The investigation continues to identfy others who were responsible for the agresssion towards the carabinieri.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Send Them Away, No Ifs No Buts

Gianluca Pini, vice-president of the parliamentarians of the Lega Nord, the xenophobic party of northern Italy, has today repeated that immigrants who are in the country illegally, that is to say unofficially, should be sent away, ‘senza se e senza ma’, or in colloquial English: no ifs, no buts. A new expression in Italian for me to use when occasion calls, thank you Gianluca, for that.
Gianluca does not say how the bloody hell he thinks this is going to be achieved, when there are tens if not hundreds of thousands of ‘clandestini’ in Italy, from a large number of different countries, no one knows where they all are, the only thing that can be said for sure is that they are not all in one place, they are everywhere, so this no if, no but statement is actually pie-in-the-sky, for whatever Gianluca might like to think and say, the reality is: if we can find them and but how are we going to organise and pay for this?
This has been sparked by the refusal of Malta to allow a cargo ship to dock that had picked up some migrants whose boat was in trouble off the coast of Libya. Italy agreed to take the migrants. Gianluca Pini thinks that Italy should be taking an example from Malta and have turned the boat away, though the boat is going to have to dock somewhere at some point, everyone can’t turn it away.
But I suppose if you are a politician for a xenophobic political party you rely upon your supporters not wishing to, or thinking to, ask fundamental questions such as: how?

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Greased Thief Pushed Into Sea

Today at Marina di Massa on the coast of Tuscany a member of staff at a beach concession saw a young man rifling through people’s belongings while the customers were at lunch. Seeing that he had been spotted the young man legged it, so the girl who had spotted him phoned another concession along the beach in the direction he was running and two blokes from there went and grabbed him. But the youth had greased his arms and legs so they could not hold him, he slipped out of their grasp. So . . . they pushed him into the sea. I would have thought that would make him even more slippery but somehow, when he got out of the sea, they pinned him down. Being a North African (from an unspecified country) he may have been a bit afraid of the sea, which is how they managed to hold him. In the struggle his rucksack spilled open and lots of wallets, purses and designer sunglasses fell out. The police were called and now he is in custody awaiting an appearance before the magistrates.
Here is the article (in Italian) with a picture of the two ‘heroes’ with a very typical beach concession scene in the background:
This is one of the daily stories concerning immigrants upsetting the norms in Italy, but I thought this one, unlike many, was quite funny. Well, not funny for the people whose purses had been nicked and not funny for the greasy youth, but funny as a scene.
This one might even make the Mail, possibly?

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Migration Watch UK

On the Migration Watch UK website there is a statement on its front page that I think sounds rather funny. ‘A migrant arrives almost every minute but they leave at only just over half that rate’, sounds like it takes them a minute to get in but only half a minute to get out. Probably they intend to achieve the opposite message of what they are saying there.
And also their sums are wrong. The figure for net migration they give of 163,000 per year for 2010 has dropped a bit since then but even using that number, that is 18 per hour, not the 30 per hour that one every two minutes would be. One has to be constantly vigilant about statements put out by those with an axe to grind.
And when the migration watch website says that a new home has to be built every seven minutes to accommodate the influx, well that is based on two rather spurious assumptions, one is that there are no empty properties in the country, which is not true, and the second is that there are 2.1 people per dwelling, which there may be in the respectable middle-class households occupied by people who follow Migration Watch, but in the language of those same people one is tempted to say, ‘Ah, bless!’

Friday, 2 August 2013

Unlicensed Street Traders in Italy

The unlicensed street traders (mainly African) have come to the point where they have set up a 'casbah' at the entrance to one of the main hospitals in Rome and try to sell things to people going in and out; they have been selling on the beaches in Italy for some years and it has got to the point now where on summer sunny days on sandy stretches of beach they set up their stalls at the water's edge from six am, so that sunbathers are obliged to lay out their towels and umbrellas away from the sea and anyone going to the sea for a paddle has to pass them and be asked if they want to buy a hat.
Oddly, the Italian public doesn't seem to mind this too much, for they can buy a hat or frock from an unlicensed trader much cheaper than they can in the shops, as the beach traders pay no rent, rates or taxes. And Italians like shopping for a frock, more than they like swimming in the sea, for the most part.
The legitimate traders in the towns are complaining, loudly, bitterly, and quite reasonably, but the police seem either overwhelmed or powerless to do much about it. It requires organisation, and Italian organisation is an oxymoron.
And on the beaches south of Rimini last week the inevitable happened, there was a big punch-up between the Senegalese (from Senegal) and Sinhalese (from Sri Lanka) over who should have the pitch. Someone called the Carabinieri and when they arrived all the traders legged it, knocking tourists' beach towels and picnic baskets over in the pandemonium as they ran. It will happen, can only get worse.
Journalists on the Mail must be looking south with envy, made doubly galling by their not being able to report much or any of this in the UK as it would undermine the message that Britain has the severest immigration problems in Europe, which it most decidedly, definitely and determinedly, doesn't.
In the context of the daily reports from Italy the approach of the British police to the Romani gypsies camping out on the central reservation of the road at Hyde Park seems the height of professionalism and pragmatism. A dawn raid, get them all out with a free flight back to Romania or a deportation order. Just do that every so often whenever the problem builds up. That plus lots and lots of reporting and photographs. They'll come back, but you have to keep on chucking them out from places where they cause a social nuisance. That coupled with waiting for rain, wind and freezing temperatures. The hot summer has probably aggravated the problem greatly.
Now I know that the Daily Mail tells its readers that free flights to Romania for troublesome migrants is an affront to the dignity of the great law-abiding British public. To which I would say, if you want to see how not to do it, mate, just go to Italy. The cost of the air fare is peanuts compared to the costs of all the other options. Why can't the sodding journalists be a bit more responsible over this? Just moving them on, with no structured plan, does not work. And stopping them from coming in in the first place would work, but the process would so inconvenience the millions of legitimate travellers that it would be arse about face, it would be disadvantaging the law-abiding for the sake of a relatively small number of miscreants to a far greater extent than is the case now. Again I wish that certain journalists would have the moral responsibility to report this in a balanced way.
And the other thing is, that blaming the policies of the previous Labour government, when the problem exists far worse in other European countries where no British government has any influence whatever, is to rely upon the inexperience and ignorance of one's readers. Despicable, really. But I suppose it sells the paper, which is their main goal. Bring on the celebrities I say, they're relatively harmless.
And rather like David Cameron's muddled and impractical plans for reducing access to pornography on the internet, it is dangerous to underestimate the knowledge of the great British public, for what the eye doesn't see the heart has a definite tendency to find out about, later on. Though perhaps his main aim at the moment is to try and pull the carpet from under UKIP, and he'll think about how you actually go about limiting access to extreme porn later, in conjunction with some advisers who know what they're talking about, if that's what he really wants to do as a priority.

The Church with a Bouncer on the Door

In addition to lots of other places, gypsies are causing problems around Mestre, the mainland part of Venice, and at the church of san Lorenzo in Mestre they are seriously hassling people who try to get in and out of the church, jostling them while begging. The police move the beggars on, but they simply come back. To try and deal with the problem the ‘archpriest’ (not sure what we’d call such a person in English) has arranged for Brother Michael, a sacristan of the church, together with a parishioner who speaks the Romani language, to stand outside and ask them to move away. This is being reported as ‘the mass with a bouncer on the door’, which is even funnier in Italian as the Italian word for bouncer, ‘buttafuori’, literally translates as ‘chucker out’.
Of course some people are complaining that it is in the tradition of the church to give alms to the poor, while others argue that this isn’t giving alms, it’s an organised begging business, which is in fact the truth of the matter.
But in some ways it’s quite funny, the church service with a bouncer, though in other ways isn’t. Violence erupted outside a hotel in Mestre when Romani beggars attempted to jostle some Italian tourists who were leaving a tourist bus and some of the Italians thumped them, which caused a bit of a fight on the spot. So far as I know punch-ups are not yet a feature of the entrance to the church of san Lorenzo, though it sounds like a thin line. 
The Italian police are at a loss to know what to do about all this. The chief of the civil police in Rome – for one of the problems is that Italy doesn’t have a single police force – resigned last month. He was described in the paper as ‘a man of a piece’, the Italian expression for a citizen of respected standing, but he resigned because the new mayor of Rome had told him he must get rid of the growing numbers of illegal street traders plaguing the city. The police have been trying to do that for some years, and failing, and so the chief of police admitted defeat and resigned rather than continue to be shouted at by the new mayor for not doing something he didn’t know how he could do.

The Pope and the Immigrants

In some ways it is funny, and in others quite sad, the Pope having been to Lampedusa where he said a blessing over the sea where so many would-be migrants had drowned and quite laudably sought to raise awareness to a wider world audience of the tragedy that unfolds by the day.
Il Messaggero in Italy reported on some phone-ins to Radio Padania, which is a radio station in the north of Italy that is linked to the Lega Nord, the very xenophobic political party that wants, among lots of other familiar-sounding xenophobic things, to split Italy into two countries, north and south. 
‘It’s easy enough for him to open the doors of Italy and live in the Vatican’, said Cristina of Bergamo  (no h in Cristina in Italian).
‘Why doesn’t he take them to live in the Vatican where there’s lots of room, instead of in Italy where there’s hunger?’, asked Luigi of Milan.
‘I would have expected’, added Giovanna, ‘some words about how they rape and murder’.
‘We shall see the piazza at the Vatican empty this Sunday’, said Laura of Brescia, ‘As a Catholic I am outraged, I have not heard this Pope or any other express concern about the carnage wrought by these people’.
Which is a bit tough on the poor old Pope, it’s hardly his fault that Italy is seeing a massive influx of poor immigrants, and at one level the people phoning in have a point, Italy is facing massive problems with immigration right now, immensely greater than the UK and greater too than Germany though that is primarily because the Germans are organised and the Italians aren’t.
But blaming the Pope for encouraging illegal immigration when he’s trying to show compassion and attempt to raise the profile of the issue can only really be described as rather thick. Kind of sick amusing.
Meanwhile, almost every day during this summer another boat arrives, or is rescued from sinking up to fifty miles offshore, or is not reused and bodies float in the sea, boats containing anything up to five hundred migrants per vessel. Italy is being overwhelmed.
While at the other end of the country Roma gypsies drive in and cause more urgent problems, for despite the comments about murder, rape, and carnage by the people who phone in to Radio Padania, there is little evidence of this with Africans, such murder rape and carnage that exists by immigrants is predominantly Eastern Europeans and especially Roma people. 
How do I know that Africans commit relatively few crimes? Well I do because there is a website, http://tuttiicriminidegliimmigrati.com the url of which literally translates as ‘All the Crimes of the Immigrants’.com, where someone, or someones, in Italy collects together stories they find in newspapers online and off- about misdemeanours, riots, or anything else they think is noteworthy relating to immigrants, and reports them, they pick up on dozens of stories daily. It’s kind of the Daily Mail Plus-Plus, in Italian, with a harsh and garish design. Probably would be jumped on by the right-on lot in the UK, but in Italy there are more pressing concerns. I look at it from time to time, I find it quite informative.
I know that Migration Watch UK does daily summaries from the British newspapers about immigration issues, but they’re all rather distant and political, all somewhat out there and arms length, it doesn’t much report on what is happening with the people, daily and on the ground. The all-the-crimes-of-the-immigrants site gives something of a picture of the lives of the people, or some of the people, and oddly in its human-story emphasis it has somewhat the opposite effect from what it is trying to achieve, but then it is Italian, so not so oddly. 

The White Van Factory in Italy

I would guess there are no reports in any British newspaper of any shape of colour about the plans for development of the light industrial manufacturing section of Fiat, the Italian car-maker, or more precisely Fiat-Chrysler, the name of the company these days. Which is a pity if so as it should be being reported really, even if I don’t explain it in easy-to-digest terms I’m sure a practised journalised could:
At the moment Fiat-Chrysler has a factory in the Val de Sandro south of Pescara that makes vans. It makes vans that are badged Fiat, Citroen and Peugeot that are all essentially the same but with a slightly different-shaped front and different names on. That way Frenchmen can swear by their favourite national make, for the most part unaware that what they are driving is a Fiat by any other name.
Fiat are proud of the Val de Sandro factory as it is modern and relatively productive, and they want to invest more money into it. To this end they plan to form a joint venture with an American company, Case IH, that makes tractors under various names such as Case, New Holland, and David Brown.  The factory at Val de Sandro will then be called Sevel, as it already is in fact, but currently it is owned by Fiat, in future it will be owned the new joint-venture company called Sevel, a separate company from Fiat. PSA (Citroen-Peugeot) also have a financial stake in this.
The new company will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange to raise American money, and the current plan is that the head office will be in the UK. Presumably the UK is country of choice for the head office as there is good access to strong management and IT skills.
That’s very good for the UK isn’t it? Quite a thing to crow about I would have thought. Though I can see that this is a bit complex to explain and even more can I see that those who argue for Britain’s exit from the EU would in effect be arguing for putting this sort of thing in jeopardy, so it is in the interest of newspapers with a tub to thump not to report it. Note that I’m not saying it couldn’t happen with Britain outside the EU, I’m saying that Britain leaving the EU would put such things in jeopardy – in reality no one knows what might happen in the highly unlikely event of Britain ever stepping aside from the EU. But the EU-antis won’t want the jeopardy aspect of their case to be too well known. Jeopardy would be because of uncertainty, and the last thing you want if you are setting up a new automotive business is head-office uncertainty, that will be the main reason why the management are planning to put it somewhere other than Italy. 
There is still something of a mountain for the chief exec of Fiat-Chrysler, Sergio Marchionne, to climb, for as you might imagine the unions and a number of politicians in Italy are kicking up a fuss about this. If Berlusconi were to get in as prime minister again - which is not entirely impossible just yet - he would almost certainly block it and insist that all aspects of Fiat remain in Italy, at least in theory, thus giving Sergio Marchionne an even bigger headache, though Sergio, who though Italian was brought up in Canada, is a remarkably laid-back sort of chap, he looks like he might be a schoolteacher from the 1970s, with his open-necked shirt, pullover, and five-bob haircut. He was taken on by the Agnelli family that owns Fiat to prevent it from going bust, and he seems to be making a fair fist of it.

Who Reads the Mail Online?

Now the thing is if you run a company that makes radio-controlled hair curlers and you want to put an ad in the paper to stimulate sales, there’s nothing to stop you contacting a daily newspaper’s ads section and, assuming your product is not associated with escort services or bondage whips or something, they’d be delighted to accept it for a fee.
But that is not the way most big companies do it. A big company will use a media buying agency, who places the ad on the company’s behalf, and tries to advise on most effective marketing outlets for the product based upon evidence and statistics. Just because the MD of a company swears by Gardener’s World does not mean that’s the most appropriate place to advertise a hair curler, so a big company will try and be more scientific about it and will use a supposedly unbiased professional agent for the job.
On some publicity from a media buying agency I was intrigued by what it had to say about the Mail. Or actually not so much the Mail as the Mail Online. The Mail paper version is fairly much as one expect: median age of readership fifty-seven, preponderance of social classes C1 and C2 with fair amours of disposable income, no surprises there. 
What’s more intriguing is the Mail Online. This has high readership, it is possibly the most read online newspaper in the world, and according to the media buying group has a high click-through rate from people in their thirties and forties via social media such as Facebook and Twitter and with an especially high concentration in the USA. So who are these people? So far as the media buyers are concerned it doesn’t matter who they are, they and their customers will be looking to tick the right boxes to say they have directed their advertising at the most appropriate audience, if you asked too many intellectual questions you probably wouldn’t be doing that job in the first place. The question is for people like Cy and me, who find it intriguing and puzzling.
What is fairly unlikely is that the people who are clicking through are reading the articles. I think that’s unlikely because much of what is there is domestic to the UK, and I cannot believe that thirty- to forty-somethings in America are rushing to look at UK news, whatever paper it’s in. But if you look at the Mail Online the right-hand column is entirely filled with stories about celebrities, many of whom you will never have heard of and even if you were into celebrities you still may not have heard of them as a great number of them are known, if they are known at all, only in America.
It’s also entirely possible – even likely I would think – that if the Mail Online pages detect that your internet service provider is US-based it will send out different articles on its front page from what it does if your ISP is UK-based.
But still it raises the question: who posts links to Mail articles on their Facebook and Twitter pages, especially given that in the UK the median age is fifty-seven with a preponderance of social classes C1 and C2 (who will be considerably less likely to have a Facebook or Twitter page that would many other sections of the population)? There are of course those who post links saying, ‘Have you seen this? It’s outrageous’ or disgraceful or amusing or whatever. I and others see a fair number of these being posted round quite frequently. Similarly there will be those who post links because they want to point out something to their friends that they especially agree with. But these two types won’t account for much, the second type definitely not, the first there are quite a lot of but not so so many.

Perhaps it’s the celebrities. Are they what is generating the links?  They will certainly get a lot of Google click-throughs, which will be one reason why they’re there on the page to begin with.  

But it’s intriguing altogether – at least I find it so. Clearly the Mail Online is doing it right in terms of getting a very high hit-rate from what appears to be high-spending younger-age groups, but who are the people that form the bulk of this and what are they looking at?  That’s what I’d be fascinated to know.

As regards the hard-copy paper, that median age of fifty-seven is a bit higher than it was a few years ago; when I last looked it was fifty-three. The same people getting older, almost certainly, which itself is a bit interesting, it means that within not too many years the Mail is going to need a major change of format and emphasis.  It won’t just yet, there are plenty of grey-hairs available to fill the tills for now, but I’m quite sure the management will have their mind on the future and I will be interested to see how they swing this. Possibly that celebrity focus in the online version is a pointer to the future for the hard copy paper. I shall continue to observe with interest.

By the Weissensee with a Man in a Kilt

Driving back through Germany this year, what did we eat? Ah yes, the first night in the hotel we both chose cod. The hotel restaurant advertised itself as specialising in fish, but it wasn’t a very good restaurant, the hotel was in a lovely setting though, on the shores of the Weissensee. On the second day I walked into Füssen, 7km along a pleasant wide wooded footpath, and found myself lunching thus:
The King Lüdwig Hell was the best bit, but all interesting nonetheless.
In the evening we walked along the lakeside to the area where people swim in the lake and sit on the grass, and found a festival going on, so we ate there:
This was a somewhat bizarre experience that I have written up on http://rand-yerrup.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/formation-walking.html.  As you’ll see, the food was fairly unchallenging (except for anyone who is a veggie), a pork steak done on the grill in a roll. Alternatively we could have had sausage.  There was music and dancing – though not by the audience.
While walking round the lake in the morning we came across a man in a black kilt, complete with sporran and skein dhu, with his wife and daughter and a friend. I detected from his German that he spoke natural English and so asked him about the kilt. It's an everyday kilt, he said, he only wears his tartan one for special occasions. He came from near Edinburgh but lived and worked in north Germany and was married to a German woman. He was taking a short hol at the Weissesee.  He had recently been back to Edinburgh, the first time in nearly forty years, and was deeply shocked. ‘By the wealth?’, I asked. ‘No’, he replied, ‘by the poverty’. I can see where he’s coming from. Edinburgh is a very polarised city, and he was a man who I would guess works in a manual labour job. Such work in Edinburgh will be in short supply, whereas in Germany, depending on where you are, there is plenty to be had, as Germany still has quite a lot of manufacturing industry. There are areas of deprivation in Germany too, though less widespread than here, especially when compared to a place like Edinburgh. He was horrified by his visit, and wonders why the country has allowed itself to get into such a state. I couldn’t really say much to that.
But he was very friendly, encouraging us to take lots of pics and tell everyone what they’re missing by not visiting the Weissensee.