The European Commission's top competition boss and a veritable harem of her most senior advisors are to feature in the next Dutch edition of Marie Claire.

The six-page spread sees Commissioner Neelie Kroes and female members of her cabinet and services posing coquetishly in power suits with softening touches and disarming sparkling smiles.

Could the magazine, we wonder, have mistaken our Neelie for supermodel Doutzen Kroes??

A pdf of the feature in the January 2009 edition is fast doing the rounds of Brussels.

And fearing copyright breach and disciplinary action, BM is wary of giving too much of a taster.

So here, instead, is a disapproving Germaine Greer.

Girl Power!

What is the EU for?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008 | 1 comments »

Whilst driving down Rue Belliard, one of BM's devoted family of ever-so-geeky (you know you are) readers spotted the below banner and snapped it on his camera phone:

It poses the ultimate question:

"What is the EU for?"

And it's answer?


So much for clarity.

So all those that might be interested in finding out the (presumably subjective) answer to the question would:
  • have to remember that they were still interested by the time they reach their destination OR
  • swerve out of four lanes of traffic to find the nearest computer
  • fire up their computer
  • try to remember the website mentioned in the banner
  • get there in the end:
  • download another piece of software to open the MISSION STATEMENT
  • read it, then wonder why the second page is blank
But what the 'Monster likes best, is bullet-point nr. 8: "to help Europe benefit economically and socially from globalisation", apparently "proposed by Ms Kinga Kohari of Hungary, winner of the ALDE citizens competition".

Although we're stumped as to why a budget supermarket chain is getting involved in European affairs, we love the idea of the EU's mission statement being written by winners of a "citizens competition".

So much so, in fact, that we're offering five lucky readers the chance to redraft the Reform Treaty. To enter, send us a postcard with you answer to the question "What is the EU for?" to the usual address. Don't forget to include a stamped, self-addressed envelope and a brown envelope with 20.000 EUR in used fifties. Winners may or may not be announced sometime in the future.

So that's it. Might be the last one before Christmas. A seasonal Winterval to all, but especially to Maltese MEP hopeful Roberta Metsola Tedesco Triccas, who said that the Berlaymonster was no less than "her favourite website". Miss MTT, we salute you (and a very shrewd move as well - future MEPs take note: flattery will buy you immunity from the sharp tongue of the 'Monster).

So Happy New Year, and Vote Roberta!

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso has been advised to look to the success of US president-elect Barack Obama for inspiration, as he seeks a second term at the helm of the EU executive.

In a bid to gain popular profile - vital to winning over the EU heads of state who hold the key to his renomination - the commission incumbent has been working on his tan and basketball skills.

He is also understood to be trying to spirit from the ether a modicum of the magnetism and straight-talking eloquence that won over the US electorate.

And aides have adapted the Obama election slogan to suit his own reselection to:

"Change, [where expedient]: Yes, we can! [following a white paper, stakeholder consultation, proposals, support among EU governments and the European Parliament, and in some cases also pending national ratification processes including parliamentary reserve and domestic referenda]"

EU vows tough action on elf-traffickers, goodwill to all men.

Following pan-European raids on shopping centres and parcel delivery firms in the UK, Netherlands and Belgium, the EU has vowed to take tough action to counter the trafficking of elves during the Christmas period.

In the most egregious case - Bluewater in Essex - 57 elves were rescued from christmas decorations described by officers as 'just horrific', Representatives from DHLf were forced to defend their working practices when 16 victims were found crammed into a refrigerated delivery van travelling from Finland to the Netherlands .

A recent report from the European Police Interface for Xmas Intelligence (Eur-Pixi) ) - a European network of undercover counter-trafficking officers focused on blackmarket festive industries - found that while other criminal activities such as reindeer rustling and illicit cracker-pulling had declined in recent years, there has been a surge in the exploitation and forced detention of the diminuitive Santa helpers.

Citing melting polar caps and continuing global disparities in fudge, Eur-Pixi spokeperson Mrs Klaus noted that often the 'little helpers' are duped into believing they are coming to Europe for a better life:

"They are told the toy assembly will be automated, that the pointy hats will be fur-lined, or the most callous: that they will be able to help more EU children be nice. Once they arrive in Europe, they are herded into dark, cramped and frankly unhygenic grottos - up to 10 of them at a time - and forced to greet lines of spoilt, unpleasant children, wiping the snot from their jerkins, for day after day of extended shopping hours."

The EU promised that while policing operations would be scaled down in the new year, resources would continue to be available to ensure that destitute helpers - discarded upon close of Christmas trading - would be able to access critical 'elf services.

Combatting the industry is difficult - not just because of its seasonal nature - but because of the shadowy masterminds behind the lucrative trade.

One high-ranking police officer outlined the problem: "Every year we think we are closing in on the 'godfather' of the operation (codenamed Frosty). We know he's a very very pale guy who likes smoking a pipe. But every year, come March, he disappears. It's like he just melts away."

Bondaged elves: misery behind the smiles (Photo reformatted to protect identities).

They get verse ...

Monday, December 15, 2008 | 0 comments »

Thank you to BM reader 'Joe Borg's inflatable pirate ship' for her (vessels are all ladies, right?) deftly-crafted lines in response to the 'Monster's effort at commissioner-themed limericks.

JBIPS should be lauded in particular for tackling one of the less rhyme-prone among the EU's unelected elite:

Lithuanian Dalia Grybauskaité,
Used to turn up for work in her nightie
Boss Barroso despaired
So he finally prepared
A mobilisation of the Flexibility Instrument to permit the financing of clearly identified expenditure which could not be financed within the limits of the ceilings available for one or more headings of the multiannual financial framework.

What the above stanza demonstrates, above all, is the kind of challenge faced by the Brussels-based limerician.

'Monster therefore proposes the following as a rather crude 'catch-all' attempt, obviating the need for further commissioner-specific satirical verse:

The entire commissioner college,
Is bereft of all relevant knowledge.
Their spirits are stunted,
Their wits are all blunted,
And their brains are like watered-down porridge.

Log on next week for the opening entries in the BM competition to write a short story about an MEP's constituency officer in the style of a 19th Century French Conte Fantastique.

EU Courts unveil leaks

Friday, December 12, 2008 | 1 comments »

A new era of transparency or Babelfish strikes again?

The European Court of Justice has just moved into new premises, but it seems they share a signwriter with the hapless menswear shop in Brussels that boasts of its 'loan to carry man' ('pret a porter homme').

The court's shiny new corridors now bear signs pointing visitors along a "path of main leak" and a "path of secondary leak."

Is it a euphemistic - and frankly unsavoury - way of indicating where one can perform one's number ones and number twos?

Or perhaps a new policy of transparency for the court's devoted press pack (of three journalists)?

Or have the contractors slovenly just translated the emergency exit routes from French using Google?

Scant rhyme, no reason

Wednesday, December 10, 2008 | 2 comments »

After the mewling success of a BM limerick earlier this year about commissioner Kallas (it rhymes with 'phallus', *snicker*), which triggered literally an avalanche of no responses, belatedly here are two more, devoted to two more of our glorious leaders (ones with names that rhyme more easily. You try rhyming 'Piebalgs' for fuck's sake).

That Reding's a ghoulish old spectre,
As scary as Hannibal Lecter.
With brimstone and hellfire,
And her gimp Martin Selmayr,
She's the scourge of the telecoms sector.


Commissioner Antonio Tajani
Has a dark secret life as a tranny.
They say he's convincing
With make-up and mincing,
Just a shame that he hasn't a fanny.

It was at this point that 'Monster aborted the admittedly ambitious attempt at eviscerating the entire College of Commissioners in verse. Should any BM reader care to take up the plume, servez-vous...

The European Commission is planning a crackdown on immigration that is posing a threat to indigenous races and costing the EU taxpayer billions a year.

In a rhetoric Enoch Powell would have been proud of, the commission said today it wanted to "deal with species from abroad" which pose a threat to Europe. Such "invasive" new arrivals "are a major threat" and "cause considerable damage," the commission said in a statement (no, really. See here).

"Controlling invasive species and repairing the damage they do is estimated to cost European economies at least 12 billion euros each year," the statement fulminates.

There is even an EU-backed register of these insidious unwelcome parasites (and some of them actually are parasites). The DAISIE database (Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventories for Europe), with the improbable URL, goes as far as to blacklist "100 of the worst".

While the EU's approach to human migration has attracted accusations of being permissive, its mouth-frothing invective for such harmless-sounding aliens as the 'zebra mussel' and the 'harlequin ladybird' is sure to please the most hardened Daily Express reader.

"They come over 'ere, pushing honest, hard-working British ladybirds out of their 'abitats" said one.

"Don't get me wrong, I've nuffing against 'em. They can do what they like in their own country. Some of my best mates are non-indigenous species."

"But they're a drain on our eco-system, and we should send 'em back where they came from."

A letter from Santa

Monday, December 01, 2008 | 15 comments »

Dear Berlaymonster,

The year started badly, thanks to global warming. We lost several workshops when the ice sheet melted and they drifted off - checked ocean current charts, and they're due in the Hudson Bay in 2014. Must put a reminder in my Google calendar about that. Everything is now wet underfoot and I was getting grief about installing a drainage system.

It was time to move and we, for reasons that now elude me, decided to relocate to Brussels.

We settled into our new premises at Tours and Taxis. Then things started to go seriously wrong. Off to the Commune to register - they asked what was the nature of my work? “Well, I sneak into children's bedrooms when they're asleep, and if they're good I give them a present.” Eventually I got released from the cells. Apparently, I'm on some sort of 'watch list' now.

Had to put the sleigh in for a 'control technique' even though sleighs don't have engines. Still got a 400€ bill, though. Got stopped by the police on the way back and fined for not having a reflective vest and a red warning triangle. For the love of God, who could miss seeing me and a dozen reindeer?

Had a lunch meeting with Commissioner Wallström - I'm sure she's part Elf. She wanted me to deliver a copy of the Proposed EU Constitution to every child as part of their communication strategy. “Even if they've been naughty?” “Especially if they've been naughty,” she purred. We manage to find a compromise and they're going to produce it as a colouring book. What sold me on the idea is thinking of the look on Nigel Farage's face on Christmas morning. As I leave, she calls out, asking what I would think of a rebrand. Pardon? Would I consider rebranding myself as EuroSanta, as it would give the EU a friendlier image? I take a huge slug from my hip flask and promise to think it over.

Noticed that expenses were climbing alarmingly and production was down. Popped round to check the reindeer and found out one reason why - they've been stuffing their faces with waffles and beer and put on so much weight that they're about as aerodynamic as Louis Michel. Went to talk to the elves, but they were all in the pub. For 'lunch'. All day. Dead important meeting, apparently.

DG Environment come round to discuss my carbon emissions. They decide to make an impact assessment. Commissioner Dimas turns up in the reindeer shed: “What is the carbon footprint of a reindeer fart?” “Let's find out,” I say, grab him and stuff his head up Prancer's backside. One of the Elves filmed it on their mobile phone and had uploaded it to You Tube before I could stop laughing.

Jamie Shea calls from NATO to give me a telling off about flight plans. Seems that last year I crossed the flight path of an unmanned drone over Khandahar and scared the daylights out of the remote pilot when I suddenly appeared on his monitor. Poor chap's still off work. Well, if you're going to spend the season of goodwill to all men by lobbing missiles at destitute Afghan farmers, then you get what you deserve. Call it karma.

Summoned to Berlaymont, where Commissioner Mandelson lectured me on our toy production being against EU tariffs and upsetting the Chinese. I express my sympathy through the medium of a fist and get a couple of good ones in before security pounce and bundle me out of the building. I get back to the office, make a couple of calls, pull a few strings and the next thing we know, Mandy's on a one-way ticket back to London.

It's about this point that I realize I'm getting too old for this. But finding a replacement is impossible as they would need to be able to cope with reindeer and work with elves and have impeccable planning skills. I have a moment of sheer genius. I reach for the phone and dial.

“Margot Wallström speaking.”

“Hey babe, have you thought about breaking through the ultimate glass ceiling?”

Sorted. Put the toys on eBay and buy a small Caribbean island with the proceeds.

So, I hope you enjoy Christmas. I'll be distilling my own rum on a tropical beach and you'll have EuroSanta in your chimney.

Ho, ho, ho.

The European Commission appears to have suddenly developed a highly evolved sense of irony.

Unfortunately it has also opened up plentiful opportunities for puns (see below*), as well as slurs on the mental capacity of its fonctionnaires and bosses, by deciding to inaugurate the 2009 European Year of Creativity and Innovation with ...

"A Concert with Vegetables."

Thus spake a commission spokesman today to a dumbfounded press room.

"Next Friday evening there is a Concert with Vegetables, that is for you. The press corps are expressly invited to attend this 'concert of vegetables' in the framework of the launch of the European Year of Creativity and Innovation" he told journalists.

Partners are allowed, apparently, but attendance is strictly on a 'first-come-first-served basis', he warned.

After a modicum of googling (which isn't half as filthy as it sounds - at least it needn't be), BM discovers that yes, in effect, we are to celebrate European creativity and innovation by watching a bunch of perhaps slightly unhinged but undoubtedly creative Austrian musoes perform on "carrot flutes, pumpkin basses, leek violins, cucumberophones, celery bongos", and perhaps more worryingly, "leek-zucchini-vibrators."

Details of the concert can be found here.

and more on the Vienna Vegetable Orchestra here and here

And thanks to the commission they'll now be able to play on wonky vegetables too ...

*Now, the puns:

[drum roll, played on a hollowed-out pumpkin ...]

- That's a turnip for the books
- Did the news leek?

Songs are to include:

- Peas, peas me - The Beet-les
- Marrow [is it me you're looking for] - Lionel Peachy (rogue fruit element)
- Roquette Man
- Chicory Chicory Bok (Choy) - as sung by reknowned endiva Diana Cos
- The Soundtrack to hit musical 'Lentil' - Rubarbara Streisand


- 'Celery', (like 'Valerie')
- Anything by Shallot Church
- The World in Onion
- Salsify my soul
- Sprout, Sprout, let it all out


- Every Grocer Wins - Nick Berry (more fruity incursions)
- Watermelon Man - Herb-ie Hancock (idem)

um ...

- Number one in the chards ...

I am the eggplant, I am the ...

carrot ...

or ... something ... else ...

corny ...

(Load of old raddish)

BM is ashamed to admit that despite decades in our host country, we've never got to grips with The Belgium. Thank the Good Lord Verhofstadt, then, for Belgian Waffle's Guide to Belgium through the Medium of Toys.

BM's favourite (puerile) bit? "I didn't have a cock, so it got a turkey."

Some buggy makers today denied being behind a study on the harmful effects of using their competitors' products.

A report drawn up by the UK's National Literacy Trust and The University of Dundee has claimed that "for many babies today, life in a buggy is emotionally impoverished and possibly stressful. Stressed babies grow into anxious adults".

The solution, according to Dr. Suzanne Zeedyk (Zeedyk, Eatdyk?) in her 35-page study, is to have your child facing backwards and not forwards in their strollers. Children who do not face their parents are deprived of the sensory benefits of interaction with their elders, leading to anxiety, weight-loss, and the possibility of suicidal thoughts in their early thirties.

The European Association of Forward-Facing Buggy Manufacturers has reacted furiously, accusing those behind the report of "pursuing an emotive and cynical agenda". Spokesman for the group, M. Guillaume Voirbite, said "those behind this report are pursuing an emotive and cynical agenda."

Spokesmother for Mothers Against Perambulatory Governance, Marlene Schauschwanz, said the side-effects of having your child face forward were "a small price to pay for the five minutes peace and quiet I get on the school run", whilst speaking off the record.

DG Competition are investigating the European Alliance for Rear-Facing Baby Mobility Devices, rumoured to be behind the report.

Progress is likely to be slow, however, as DG Competition finds its resources increasingly stretched. This month alone it finds itself simultaneously investigating Nike's "Reebok Cripples You" advertising campaign, Toyota's leaked memo: "Nissan f*cked your mum", and the Tobacco Council's "Look Over There!" report.

The European Commission has unveiled an 'Emergency email address for air passengers in difficulty.'

BM has obtained a draft of the in-flight safety card explaining how to use the emergency email:

PR Wars - Attack of the Drones

Thursday, November 13, 2008 | 1 comments »

As someone who has never knowingly been on the mailing list of either organisation, BM was today surprised and delighted to receive two press releases in quick succession.

The first - from Interel Cabinet Stewart Hamish James Geraint (the EU's competent authority, don't you know) - stated:

"Interel appoints new MD for its European Affairs practice

- leading European Corporate Affairs Consultancy Interel today announced the appointment of Benno van der Laan as its new Managing Director for the company's 35 strong European Affairs practice, Interel Cabinet Stewart. Benno is replacing Tom Parker who, after 11 years with the company, is moving on to join Interel's strategic partner in Brussels, Cambre Associates, which is a specialized communications consultancy with which Interel has a close relationship."

So close a relationship in fact, that a mere 109 minutes later, (Bois de la) Cambre Associates retaliated with the inflammatory:

"Press release: Tom Parker joins Cambre

– Cambre Associates is pleased to announce that Tom Parker will be joining the company as a managing partner and head of its public affairs practice. Tom will be joining Cambre as of January following his departure from Interel Cabinet Stewart, where he is currently managing director of the firm's European affairs practice."

Gosh, well, that was worth it. Upon questioning, it was revealed that the entire population of the EU Quarter reacted with utter, utter indifference.

If we're going to be spammed, at least make it interesting...

Top Brussels lobbyists gather to hear the exciting news.

As cinemas around Europe see James Bond fend off another contrived international threat, lawyers for the brand today are before the EU courts with a battle of their own on their hands, after rights to the 'Dr No' name fell into the wrong hands.

A small German media marketing firm based out of Munich (and not a bunker beneath some Pacific island volcano) won the right to use 'Dr No' as a brand from everything ranging from nautical instruments to vehicles, handbags, 'whips, harness and saddlery', clothing and drinks.

The company, Mission Productions, is understood however to be planning to licence the name to market products like cigarettes and energy drinks in Europe.

Mission Productions specialises in media and product placement in TV and film, and had done some high-profile placement work with the Bond people in the past.

Quite what happened to prompt Mission Productions to make an opportunistic trademark raid for 'Dr No' in 2001 is beyond BM.

But it turned out the German firm had done its homework: the name of the first, and arguably most famous Bond film, was still in the public domain, as in fact was most of the rest of the Bond canon.

The Bond production company Danjaq snapped up the European trademark rights for its 21 remaining film titles, but Dr.No was already in the clutches of Mission Productions.

It's a true story.

No really.

('Monster returns to poring over the Court of First Instance timetable for trademark appeals of Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market Board of Appeal decisions, exhausted and bewildered by the brief moment of 'something interesting' that streaked through all too briefly like a whirlwind romance, only to leave one pining and deflated ...

still, the take-home's good ...

and can't complain about the pension and tax benefits ...

Right. Next: "Action brought by the applicant for a figurative trade mark in the form an arch sloping to the right for goods in Class 18 for annulment of Decision R 786/2006-1 of the First Board of Appeal of the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM) of 14 June 2007 annulling the decision of the Opposition Division rejecting the opposition of the proprietor of a national three-dimensional mark representing a shoe with a sloping arch, a number of national figurative marks in the form of various types of sloping arches and two figurative Community marks in the form of two types of arch for goods in Classes 18 and 25...

so lonely ...)

Nauseous euro-love-in for Reuters bureau chief send-off

Farewell, then, Paul Taylor.

The man who, over the last eight years at the helm of Reuters' Brussels bureau was referred to lovingly by his adoring staff as, variously, 'the kebab salesman', 'the walrus of love', or chubby moustachioed porn legend 'Ron Jeremy', is leaving town.

And what a touching orchestrated send-off he received on his final day.

Conspicuous by his presence at the European Commission's daily briefing today, Taylor was clearly expecting a valedictory from the spokesfolks there, as is customary for long-standing pillocks - er, sorry, pillars - of the press room.

Although just to sure he was noticed he sat near the front, plumb in the sightline of the deputizing headspoke, Amadeu Altafaj Tardio.

And to be extra sure of eliciting some last words of praise, he asked a sitter of a question on the commission's position on sovereign wealth funds, and chose sycophantically to ask it:

"... dans la langue de Molière, par amour du français et respect du multilingualisme ..."

("Prétentieux? moi?")

And he was not to be disappointed.

As the briefing drew to a close Altafaj Tardio read from a prepared statement, drafted 'in the language of Shakespeare' but translated on the hoof into French.

The commission paid a "sincere tribute" to Taylor's "work and professionalism", hoping he would "continue to inspire" in his new role as Paris-based columnist for the newswire.

The old spirit of Baron Reuters, who in 1849 dispatched his news with carrier pigeons - waxed the spokesman further - "remains thanks to journalists like you."

The pair of them skipped off towards the parc du cinquantenaire, sweetly crooning Charles Aznavour's 'For me, formidable' to each other ... (click here to help set the scene).

"You are the one for me, for me, for me, formidable
But how can you
See me, see me, see me, si minable

Je ferais mieux d'aller choisir mon vocabulaire
Pour te plaire
Dans la langue de Molière

Toi, tes eyes, ton nose, tes lips adorables
Tu n'as pas compris tant pis

Ne t'en fais pas et viens-t-en dans mes bras

Darling I love you, love you,
Darling, I want you

Et puis le reste on s'en fout
You are the one for me, for me, for me, formidable ...."

In a pleasing trend towards metaphor (obfuscation?) the Charlemagne building appears to have rebranded itself the "European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights", if this latest banner is to be believed.

Which, of course, got us thinking: what instrument could that be ?

A couple of ideas from the dulcet tenor of the Berlaymonster:

  1. Bagpipes: a sack of wind inclined to make unpleasant screeching sounds
  2. Harp: almost transparent, but on closer inspection has many strings attached
  3. Fiddle: enough said
  4. Organ: vastly complex, impenetrable, various buttons and pedals and bits and pieces, but which effectively just blows hot air from left to right
  5. Double bass: large, unwieldy and yet barely audible
  6. A saxophone: blown by big black men (that's enough, Ed.)
And it's over to you - leave your suggestions in the comments ... best one wins Iceland.

Europe's pin-striped panickers are waking up to the truism that spending money to buy a lack of money doesn't quite bear the rich returns they had imagined.

It turns out spending ten euros on buying minus one hundred euros, rather than being a money-spinner, simply leaves you one hundred and ten euros worse off.

The following text explaining the equation is an extract from 'Monster's six year old cousin's homework last week.

(yes, 'Monster banks with Fortis, before you ask)

BM seeks friends

Tuesday, September 30, 2008 | 0 comments »

... but throw a sheep at it and it'll regulate your sorry derriere

News has finally reached the 'Monster's lofty 13th floor office at Tour D'Ivoire 1, Rond Point Schuman, of this phenomenon on the interweb known as 'facebook'.

Now, while eurocrats are infamously 'faceless', this should not stem participation in this online fad.

Heck, even European Commission Vice-President for Something Margot Wallstrom has signed up, AND numbers among the 'Monster's growing number of 'friends' and Group members.

Show your support and help the 'Monster belatedly become part of an internet revolution that has already lost its lustre.

Become a Friend of the 'Monster here and join the 'Group' here.

News in briefs

Thursday, September 25, 2008 | 0 comments »

All the news you'll ever need

Gawain Towler, blogger, UKIP spokesman and waistcoat aficionado, has had his blog shut down by the European Parliament paymasters.

Apparently ironique (which is lost on BM) and eurosceptique (no shit), England Expects is no longer expecting ...

Gawain was threatened with a heavy rule-book and hung up his coat, but not before pointing us to ...


... Bruno Waterfield's Telegraph piece on anonymous blogs.

Estonian MEP Marianne Mikko (nice pearl necklace), said "we need some credentials, a quality mark, a certain disclosure of who is writing and why. We need this to be able to trust and rely on the source".

BM agrees, and in the interests of openness, will be exposing himself in the ladies' sauna of the Berlaymont building every lunchtime this week.


And with a sharp swing to the left, Community Intelligence has been brought to our attention. Brussels-based, but with no sign of an address or telephone number on the website, they're a consultancy that believes that "the blossoming of everyone is the goal of the whole".

Our favourite quote:
"Learning from the past and present is not sufficient when the future is not what it used to be. Learning from the future as it emerges, became a key competence for champions of change. That learning includes presencing (discovering the potential that wants to be realized), then creating a prototype inspired by what has beeen seen."
Their clients include BP, Hewlett Packard and Shell and, yes, the European Commission, who are understood to have ordered 20.000 healing crystals and a white paper on tantric sustainability.

BM Hero - Vlad the Jargon Slayer

Tuesday, September 23, 2008 | 1 comments »

Sustainability can't last, warns MEP

Many thanks to one 'Monster reader who brought this laudable initiative to our attention.

Czech MEP Vladimír Železný has launched a campaign to crack down "on overuse of the adjective ‘sustainable’".

"The current parliamentary term has seen the overuse of the adjective ‘sustainable’ and its combination with various other words to create expressions that frequently make no sense in the context" Železný writes in his declaration.

"The word ‘sustainable’ is repeated in almost all policies and strategies, producing empty, meaningless phrases that may give rise to dispute" he continues.

"With the emergence of such expressions, they are being transformed into incantations and cryptography, disguising the real meaning of the concepts we discuss."

And, calling for a temporary moratorium on use of the word, the Czech adds with self-conscious irony:

"Overuse of the adjective ‘sustainable’ is itself not sustainable."

A bugbear of antijargonauts across the English-speaking world, the term has been embraced with particular gusto by EU policy-makers.

Indeed, a search on the EU's own institutional website for the word returned 37,510 results.

Using Google, meanwhile, a search for "European Union" and 'sustainable' results in "about 7,610,000" references.

Mr Železný, BM salutes you.

... displays ropier wit

It could have been the start of something marvelous, a war of words traded in a bygone idiom, a return to sadly defunct imprecations and slurs like 'bounder' and 'cur', a spark of archaic verbal dueling in amongst the drab rhetoric of EU diplomacy.

Romanian Senator Sergiu Andon this week lashed out at a European Commission spokesman for his comments on Romania's failure to toe the line on nominating chief prosecutors (see article here).

In an antedeluvian flourish (which 'monster fears may have gained something in the translation, but is not going to let that ruin the germ of an adequate chortle) Andon said of Mark Gray: "This European Commission spokesman gets more and more impertinent."

The salon fell silent.

Ladies hid their blushes behind fluttering fans.

From somewhere an incredulous voice could be heard ejaculating a barely-suppressed "I say."

The gauntlet lay on the floor, Gray's face still smarting from the indecent impact.

How would he respond? Surely that stint as Barroso's wordsmith had keened Gray's articulation to rise to this challenge, surely a gentlemen - and an Englishman at that - would not let this aspersion pass. Perhaps that's how its done in Bucharest, but calumniate one of the Queen's subjects at your peril, the crowd thought, as Gray squared up to deliver the return blow:

"No comment."

The crowd went mild. Laitenberger reluctantly put away the dueling pistols, and the disappointed observers returned to their working groups.

It's too late now for Mr Gray to save face. The iron has cooled, the moment passed.

But in something of an esprit de l'escalier, here, belatedly, are a number of retorts for Mark to deploy the next time he feels the lash of Senator Andon's recherché invective:

  • "I demand satisfaction."

  • "You, sir, have neither the learning nor standing to pass judgement on a noble high servant of the European cause."

or more succinctly,

  • "Impertinent I may be, but at least I'm not a boss-eyed foreign c**t."

As speculation already starts to mount as to who may feature in the next EU commission administration, it seems the British government is intent on putting forward a candidate to shatter the traditional eurocrat mould.

A UK official told the 'monster, "we're going all out here. We want to tick as many boxes as possible."

"A gay candidate is no longer the groovy choice - we need to go further."

"If we take the gay route, they've got to be positively camp" the source told BM.

"Otherwise, the PC choice of a chick for commissioner has to be the way forward."

Either way, the source added, hopefuls would benefit from being "of a beige complexion or darker, from a working class upbringing if possible, and maybe even a bit handicapped. But not too much, because that wouldn't look good on telly."

A knowledge of modern British street patois would be an advantage, and there is talk the successful candidate may even be drawn from the tiny disenfranchised and oppressed Europhile minority...

What's in a name?

Monday, August 11, 2008 | 1 comments »

About 35 seconds of moderate humour...

From the EU's 'Official Journal' - looks like Deutsche Telekom recruited a 'quack team of lawyers' for this court case!



'quack' team.


Ha a... Ooooh dear.

[*BM goes back to sleep for the remainder of 'summer'*]

Experts fear this is only the beginning

The first recorded death from tortuous use of the English language was recorded yesterday after Christine Monkhaus, a German-American dual national, succumbed to excessive exposure to a poorly constructed technical work on the re-skilling (consistently referred to as 're-skillage') of unemployed steel workers.

Monkhaus, an expert in the subject and a native English speaker, was found slumped at her desk having spent three consecutive days editing the text. Police found a crumpled note in her hand which sources reveal was a naked and harrowing cry for help.

"It just read 'god save me, the subjunctive use of the present tense, and the split infinitive', which was a reference to the fourth paragraph on page 63, I think." Said one colleague at the scene. "She was such a lovely girl, and we made her do this. I will never forgive myself"

While this is the first known fatality, concerns about illness resulting from the rising use of so-called "euro-english" have been flagged by a number of lobby groups. Cases of mental exhaustion, dehydration, brain haemorrhages, tumours, and excessive verbiage have been recorded around the globe in recent months. Brussels and Geneva, housing the EU and the UN respectively, currently top the statistics board.

While no cure has been found, medical experts advise holding headsets away from the ear, where possible, and to only allow conversations to last a limited amount of time. While teachers trade unions have advised increased language tuition, critics say this is a long term solution and an immediate policy response is necessary.

The issue was discussed for the first time by European Heads of State at the Summit in June. However, the debate stalled when several translators were taken ill having been forced to translate dodgy Slovakian-english back into Czech. The UK delegation was accused of high-handedness, mumbling and "using long words" by the Greeks, while the French publically declared that "anyone can use French, however they want. As long as they use it."

One head of state was overheard saying, "I love Euro-english. You can use very many beautiful words that are richest and full of life, while not saying anything and being meaningless. This is the dream of every politician."

While the debate – conducted mostly in Euro-english – rages on, it comes as little solace to the friends and family of Ms Monkhaus. In addition to her professional editing work, she had recently had the first volume of her children's book series accepted for publication: Gerald the Gerund.

US President George Bush this evening issued a formal statement of condolence, adding "if only y'all could speak English as we do down here, there ain't be no tradegies like this."

Lobby Families

Tuesday, July 29, 2008 | 0 comments »

As the quiet summer months are here, get your friends together and play the new game sweeping Place Luxembourg and champagne receptions across the EU quarter: Lobby Families.

During the nineteenth century, the popular card game Happy Families revitalised public love and respect for simple, rural cottage industries (Mr Stamp, the postman, Mr Snuffet the undertaker). In a similar fashion, this game will inspire greater affection for some of Brussels most insincerely loved elements, the simple lobbyist. Failing that, it may give them someone to talk to at parties.

The aim of the game is to collect business cards and at least one personal email from the key lobbyists and representatives for a particular industry, or 'family'. For example, players who choose to collect lobbyists in the pharmaceutical field should hunt for Bristol Myers Squibb, Proctor & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson etc.

Basic Rules:

Two or more players.

Players select an industry themselves, or set challenges for other players. Levels of difficulty vary according to policy area: the more specialised the industry, the more prized the family.

Players may also swap cards, in order to complete a set, but personal emails should then be obtained directly using that card.

Points are allocated according to the seniority of the lobbyist befriended and the prominence of the organisation they work for.

At least five organisations should be collected in order to complete a family. No points are awarded for multiple lobbyists in the same organisation.

Bonus points may be allocated for unearthing the Commission official responsible for the family business, or tricking a PR consultant into admitting they have clients in a particular family.

This article has been sponsored by the European Confederation for the Friendship Enhancement of Corporate Kronies (EC’Feck).

The European Commission's daily press briefing witnessed a disarming moment of candour today, as one of the institution's spokesfolks conceded to her own failings.

Noting how press coverage of tax matters had been 'confused', a spokesman for taxation commissioner László Kovács admitted "maybe I'm not a good communicator" (d'ye think that came up in her job interview?).

Then, as if to prove her point, she responded to a question about the danger her commissioner might run out of time in his mandate to table a proposal on a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base:

"There is dangers for everything in this life, but also there is no dangers at the same time," she clarified. "We try our best."


EU commissioner for terminology Jens Paarlsen has been employing some of his closest colleagues over the past four years to take up privileged soft-touch positions as members of his family, it has emerged.

During his tenure as Denmark's commissioner to the EU, Paarlsen has spent over 400 000 euros in handing out 'boys for the jobs' perks.

His sons Karl and Magnus, it transpires, were in fact drafted in from Paarlsen's cabinet. Karl, 9, is actually Jack Smoo, 36, advisor on justice and home affairs issues, while Magnus, 14, has for many years been the commissioner's long-standing speech writer and political campaigner Christina Maga.

The scandal has triggered a wide-ranging witch-hunt at the heart of the EU institutions to track down other high-ranking officials handing out blood-relationship or spouse status to employees.

Not since 1998 when Italian commissioner Selina Mosta was forced to resign, along with all her colleagues, after it transpired she had appointed her director general to be her gynecologist, has the commission been faced with such a crisis.

MEPs were conspicuously reluctant to criticise...

Following yet another disappointing result in the Eurovision Song Contest, President Sarkozy announced the creation of a study mission during the French Presidency to investigate the legality of returning countries to the former USSR.

France is not the only country to demonstrate concern at the lack of 'pop'-ularity. Other countries with disappointing results in recent years have suggested and implemented less drastic policy measures, including withdrawal from the contest (Italy), submitting Terry Wogan as an entry (UK), and mobilising the overseas Ausslieder vote (Germany).

MEPs on Monday called for structural funds to be released to redress the imbalance in victories for the larger, less-spangly nations. For their part, representatives from the new Member States offered to twin with less fortunate countries and train them in the lost arts of costume changes, fake tan and oblique references to communism.

It is thought that these soft policy proposals will cut no ice with the French leadership, which hopes to make its mark on Europe with the initiative. The move has broad-based support in France, where many of its inhabitants believe the crass, tacky entries from the East in recent years are destroying Europe's reputation as the continent of culture.

Dubbed the "Siberia Group", the team of legal experts, historians and statisticians will focus on two tasks in addition to the legitimacy question: quantifying France's chance of winning the Eurovision if former countries were to be re-merged with the borderline dictatorship, and establishing whether Russia actually wants them back.

A Spokesperson for the Ministry of Culture, Cheese and Gallic Shrugging stated that "we have already engaged in initial bilateral discussion with Prime Minister Putin, and so far the response has been positive. However, they have already stipulated that the deal is off if Timbaland can't produce next year's entry".

Some countries hope Ireland - one of the only EU-15 states to enjoy repeated success in recent years - will be able to broker a compromise deal which falls short of replacing the Iron Curtain. However, their lead negotiator may yet turn out to be a turkey.

It's up there with 'Lose weight, eat pie now', or 'New Treaty? Why not put it up for a referendum!'.

Many thanks to a tree-hugging BM reader who sent in this (oxy-)moronic campaign.

The National Geographic Society has announced a competition called "Combat Climate Change!" (exclamation mark included).

In line with the eco-concerns at the core of the contest, the press release stresses submissions "are ONLY taken online" (capitals included).

It's open to students in Europe, and invites our continent's yoot to submit a project stating a climate change problem and a proposed solution.

But the prize is a place for two on a trip to the Puerto Rican rainforest.

What is unclear is whether that expedition includes a mission to plant the 46 trees needed to offset the 3.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide expended for the two lucky winners to take the ten thousand mile round-trip from Europe to San Juan and back ...

Has ever a brightly tacky 'Download Now!' been so misleading?

Granted, it's nice to see some - notably not the Commission - making an effort, but think of those poor, lost, depraved souls working late in the Berlaymont, trawling EU news sites during the long, lonely, rainy nights in Brussels, searching for a quick burst of shameful but deeply satisfying euro-jargon.

Seduced by the flashy imperative and bright colours, and with one careless and capricious click of the mouse, they download, only to be desperately let down by the dull white pages and classic font (with strategically placed italics) which result. Not even a glossy colourful cover with a coquettishly victorious and pouting Giscard d'Estaing. The disappointment, the confusion, the...protocols.

Surely an oxymoron for our media-savvy EU age: a 336-page Consolidated 'Reader-Friendly' version of the Lisbon Treaty.

BM can confirm the long-held British tabloid belief that EU funds are going down the toilet.

Here is a photo of a lovely pooper in Hull, subsidised by EU regional aid.

The verdant washroom is, we learn from the European Commission's website, 'award-winning' and co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund.

And the aim of the subsidy: to promote "regional competitiveness".

Quite how a spic-and-span Victorian crapper-cum-conservatory can help regional competitiveness escapes BM for the moment.

But it proves the EU is 'flush' with 'loo-t' ... erm ... and is 'basin' its regional aid distribution on ... erm ... [toilet ... poo ... other lavatorial references ...]

Thanks to avid BM reader 'Florence' for the tip...

Then I shall deliver my Opinion in C-132/07 Beecham v Andacon (pending)

The European Court of Justice's in-house storyteller and neon-lit 'intellectual' has been parading his prose and erudition again.

Advocate General Damaso Ruiz-Jarabo Colomer is known for his extravagant flights of fancy in his legal recommendations to the court, spiraling off without due care and attention on bizarre cultural tangents.

Some years ago he was distracted in his legal analysis of whether DaimlerChrysler should be allowed to market a car called 'Picaro' given a similarity with Citroen's Xara 'Picasso'.

Straying wildly from the trademark law at hand, he fulminated at length on the debasement of the great artist's name, saying it was "sad to note that the most remarkable legend of the 20th century, a patron of humanity, has been reduced to a commercial object, a commodity."

And this week Colomer has surpassed even his own standards of non-sequitur pontification and superfluous intellectualism.

In a recommendation to the ECJ on a dispute involving counterfeit drug investigations and efforts by Glaxo to keep out cheap African imports, the legal adviser spends the first three pages of his opinion waxing lyrical about 'pirates.'

Below is Colomer's introduction, complete with footnotes. The translation is 'Monster's own from the French. The hifalutin flourishes are, we stress, not an embellishment, and are every bit as florid and pretentious in the original:

The number of meanings of the word 'pirate' [from the Greek 'peirates': bandit, plunderer] cannot fail to surprise. As a noun, any child would be able to describe this archetype, by simple enumeration of his most characteristic traits: the wooden leg, the hooked hand, the fullsome beard and eyepatch, tribute to his choice of hazardous lifestyle, full of adventures and dangers.

This representation has been prevalent at least since the romanticism of the 19th century*; even an author such as Balzac, sheltered from any suspicion of following the precepts of this literary style so anchored in the first half of the 19th century, wove a yarn of piracy into one of his novels, no doubt as a device to amplify the drama of the travails Madame D'Aiglemont suffers her whole existence.**

By extension, the noun is used as an adjective, notably when added to a product, in that instance alluding to its lack of authenticity or to its introduction on the market by less than orthodox means. But this meaning contrasts with the true spoils of these characters, as it was not the stolen treasures that were considered illegal, but their appropriation by violence from their legitimate owners. One poet contemporary to the age of piracy, in an ode to rebellion, described the boat itself as the pirate's most precious belonging, superior to the fabulous plundered treasures.***

In the juridical debate the present conclusions must confront, one could compare, with a bit of imagination, the companies dedicated to parallel trade to the pirates and those defending their intellectual property rights to the corsairs, those with a licence from their government to hunt down the vessels of powerful enemies. However, in European law the terms are turned around, because, while the previous comparison applies to exchanges with third countries, in intra-community trade the parallel importer is acting within the law, enjoying corsair rights to pursue the companies trying to harm this freedom of movement. It all depends on the point of view, because, for these big companies, the 'free riders' or commercial traders constitute real-life 'filibusters'.****"


*Hollywood transformed the depiction of these lovable renegades, in filming the adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow and his acolytes in the films entitled 'Pirates of the Caribbean', in which any resemblance with reality is purely fortuitous.

**Balzac, H. de, La femme de trente ans, editions Flamarion, Paris, 1996, particularly p.217, describes how Helene, daughter of Madame D'Aiglemont and her husband, unites with a corsair to start a family on board his boat The Othello; following various tribulations and a skirmish with the Saint-Ferdinand, commanded by the General, Helene's father, she is washed up on the coast of Cantabria and only manages to save one of her children.

***Espronceda, J. de. (1808-1842), author of 'La cancion del pirata (the song of the pirate), reproduced in Las mil mejores poesias de la lengua castellana (The Top 1000 poems in Catalan), edition Ibericas, 31st edition, Madrid, 1995, p.302-303, composed the following lines: “Que es mi barco mi tesoro, / que es mi Dios la libertad, / mi ley la fuerza y el viento, / mi única patria la mar” (for my boat is my treasure,/ my God, is freedom,/ my law, the strength of the wind,/ my only fatherland, the sea).

****This denomination applies to a type of pirate operating essentially in the Caribbean, with carte blanche to plunder at will. In his Histoire des Aventuriers qui se sont signales dans les Indes, Olivier de Oexmelin gives the curious details of the lives of these buccaneers, for example the sum they received in compensation for a mutilation suffered in combat: one hundred piastres for an eye and six hundred for the right arm. Melegar, V., Pirates, Corsaires and Filibusters, translation in Spanish by Fermin Munoz, edition Bruguera, Barcelona, 1998, p.82

Then, and only then, does Colomer feel cerebrally braced to tackle the legal niceties of illegal pharmaceutical trade in the 21st century...

Slovenian Presidency Logo

Wednesday, March 26, 2008 | 5 comments »

is it just us or does ...

make you think of ...

EU solves global warming!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008 | 0 comments »

Brussels' snow proof global warming no longer an issue, claims Dimas.

The European Commission has taken the unprecedented step of claiming to have "solved" global warming. In a press release, Stavros Dimas, commissioner for the environment, states "It is thanks only to joint European initiatives that Brussels has seen snow this weekend. We can say with conviction that Europe is no longer affected by the issues around global warming and the greenhouse effect."

When contacted by the Berlaymonster for a comment, Mr. Dimas looked slightly bemused and said "is this a joke?"

A spokesman from DG Development was sure it must be. Speaking under the condition of anonymity, he said "it's all very well claiming that Europe isn't suffering from climate change any more, but what about our neighbours elsewhere in the world? In Australia at the moment it's summer. They'll be scorching hot. Can we spare some snow to send them, I ask? I fear the answer is probably no."

Neelie Kroes harbours Australian in exile

Brussels is left reeling at the discovery that competition commissioner Neelie Kroes has hired an Australian speechwriter by the name of Ryan Heath to prevent repeats of her finest moments.

He certainly has pedigree. Not only is a real heart-throb (see picture) but he's fled his homeland, running scared, after the publication of his book "Please Just F*Off: It's Our Turn Now" in his native Australia.

It's not the first time that Brussels-based authors have written provocatively-titled books, presumably to relieve the boredom of living in Belgium, but whereas Crofts upset a handful of Telegraph readers, Heath seems to have rubbed a whole nation up the wrong way.

Who's he telling to f*** off? The baby boomers, apparently, the bastions of Australian society, industry owners and media moguls. No wonder he's on the run. The book's now out of print, but BM found the following review, which we haven't linked to in order to save the author's blushes:

"Ryan Heath, can you Please Just F*** off? You’re the perfect poster boy for everything that’s wrong with my generation ... " (and it continues in a similar vein).

So thank the good Lord God and Neelie Kroes for sending us this sizzling piece of Antipodean Angst, may we forever keep him safe from the wrath of his compatriots ...

Revue review

Monday, March 10, 2008 | 1 comments »

'Monster editorial is still recovering from the Brussels Press Revue this weekend. The annual bunfight, put on by an unlikely ad hoc group of hacks and friends, regularly baffles the organisers with its popularity.

And as with all top-flight sell-out stage events, dodgy blackmarket privately-recorded clips have already started appearing on the interwebsuperhighway.

Here's Teresa singing Stranglers hit Golden Brown, except with the lyrics cleverly rewritten to ... wait for it .... 'Gordon Brown' ...

It must have hit the mark though, as one unnamed senior British civil servant present was reported to be 'laughing like a drain' throughout. He'd have also enjoyed chief scribe Geoff Meade's take-off of Tony Blair applying for the post of EU Council President in the former PM's infamously ropey French: "dans moi, vous gettez ... non .... vous 'getteriez'..."

Champagne moment, however, must go to seasoned lobbyist and Press Revue stalwart John Robinson. His Shakespearean monologue bewailing the European Commission's 'Transparency' initiative was already a feat of writing and performance far beyond the usual level. But it was all the more piquant for being performed in front of the very author of the Transparency initiative, commissioner for administrative affairs Siim Kallas.

Sat provocatively in the front row the moustachioed EC VIP and VP was right in John's sightline.

Thankfully, then, having grinned uncomfortably initially, the commissioner beamed and chuckled as Robinson weighed in with:

"Alas, poor Kallas, There are more things in heaven and earth, commissioner, Than are dreamt of in your Transparency."

On a far less cultured level, this is one submission that didn't make it in Saturday's show, given the commissioner's presence ... flanked by his missus:

'Tis said that commissioner Kallas,
Is endowed with a very large phallus,
Ask his wife if it's true,
She'll say "How dare you",
And strike you with forethought and malice.

Finally, to the Berlaymonster fans present who whooped at the mention of 'kuñardocz' during one sketch: thanks to both of you.

A l'annee prochaine.


European tech commissioner Vivian Reding has intervened to rescue the sad existence of computer geeks the world over, with a clarion call for more women to enter the sector.

"Women wanted in Europe's ICT industry"! she blurted by press release today, ahead of Global Chicks' Day this weekend (see also story below).

And BM is sure the message will have support - albeit a bit nervous - from IT departments across Europe.

But how, we wonder, will the techie fraternity react to Reding's oestrogen-fuelled army sachaying into their domains?

Will they expect their new colleagues to wear hotpants and guns?

Will they be able to converse in something other than film references?

And separately, why did the commission deem it suitable to call the campaign to get female students into computer sciences, 'IT Girls'.


Ladies who lunch

Monday, March 03, 2008 | 1 comments »

EU commission president Jose Manuel Barroso has found an inspirational ruse to surround himself with high-flying lovelies this week.

Making the most of International Women's Day falling at the weekend, he has invited Embassadrices from around the world for a spot of lunch this Wednesday.

All rather laudable, but too rich an opportunity to let pass without some ribald bordering-on-sexist nods, winks and barely-excusable post-modern quips at the expense of half the population.

Such as this pearler from stand-up comedian Milton Jones:

"Militant feminists.
I take my hat off to them.
They hate that."

Happy Chicks' Day.


Sarko bitchslappin!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008 | 1 comments »

Sarko in great form. For the non-French speakers, "casse-toi alors, sale con" means "get yo bitchy little pink ass out of my face, mofo", or thereabouts.

The 'Monster is taking bets that Sarko will be the first to let slip with a little "kuñardocz"

Celebrating European design...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008 | 5 comments »

... with something you wouldn't put on your fridge even if your favourite grandson had done it.

Ah, Europe. The continent that brought us William Morris' arts and crafts movement, Marcel Breuer's chairs, Pininfarini's cars, and other design classics (that the 'monster had to look up on wikipedia).

And now, [*drum roll*]


The winning design for a new, pan-Eurozone commemorative two euro coin to celebrate 10 years of Economic and Monetary Union.

It was created by George Stamatopoulos (age five and a half?), and represents - we are told - that "the euro is the latest step in the long history of trade, from pre-historic barter - evoked by the deliberately primitive design - to economic and monetary union."

It's only ten years, George, not ten million.

BM looks forward to the issue of a set of commemorative notes to go with this coin, and has made its own submission below.

We call the designs, respectively, 'My House', 'Me and Daddy', and 'Daddy's Car'.

Reding the room

Tuesday, February 19, 2008 | 0 comments »

At the Global Mobile Awards last week in Barcelona (like the Oscars but with better reception), the GSM great and good gathered to and pat each other on the back for a good year's work battling the forces of evil and DG INFSO.

In a show of humanitarian support, famed mobile users Robert Redford and lent their support to this beleaguered industry. However, the best line of the night emanated from the unlikely compere, Irish talk show host and comedian Graham Norton (perhaps he misheard 'mobile' for 'nubile').

Noting the heavy gender bias in the room (90% male, all simultaneously photographing and texting pictures of Isabella Rossellini to their friends), Norton quipped:

"Even Viviane Reding could get laid in about 10 minutes here."

Well, that's one way to empty a room full of castrated telecoms executives.

The Brussels community was reeling last week as reports confirmed that one of the press corps can not only speak coherently for more than a three minute 'package', but can also tackle words of more than two syllables at a time.

Sporting a hunch and a withered arm – not due to the excess beer at the midday briefing but rather a superfluous effort to appear deformed and evil – a noted British journalist revealed previously unfathomed levels of eloquence and, even more unbelievably, significant acting talent.

Speaking at half-time (surely the interval? Ed.) one Commission spokesperson expressed amazement. "He's always been a bit lippy, but mostly stuck to the one, two syllable words. Watching him stumble over the trickier ones such as 'competition' and 'comitology' has been awkward for all of us. We try to help him out now and again when we know what he's getting at, but who knew that in his spare time he was capable of this? We'll be letting him sit at the front of the press room in future."

Other members of the cast were less surprising in their ability to navigate the iambic pentameter. Another audience member, close to the play (second row in fact), noted that "trade lawyers and translators are expected to bridge the gap between the intelligible and unintelligible - albeit in opposite directions - but we were really impressed to see a journalist take on the task. It should be a lesson to all of them. Don't let your learning disabilities hold you back."

Shakespeare was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press, though close associates have expressed concern that he might never write again.

It was arduous. It took will power and effort beyond the usual bounds of fonctionnaire endeavour.

But the 'Monster has seen through its New Year's Resolution: to disappoint our readers with no, that's right, NO articles whatsoever throughout the whole course of January.

Following this successful display of selfless asceticism, from February onwards, BM resolves to further disappoint our readers for the rest of the year, with an infrequent trickle of limp editorial giblets!

Bet you can't wait.

But you might just have to.