BBC Radio 4, 22 May 2011
A short improvised dialogue in Radio 4's long-running From Fact to
Fiction series, penned in response to the resignation of IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, following his arrest in New
York on charges of sexual assault (which were later dropped).
The dialogue focused on EU bureaucrat Rupert (Alex Jennings) and his stay-at-home
spouse Fiona (Anna Chancellor). Rupert is charged with helping to construct the so-called 'rescue' packages for countries
such as Italy and Greece; while Fiona once had a well-paid job as an estate agent in London, she now spends most of her time
attending a book club and going to diplomatic parties.
Shriver set to a predictable dramatic contrast between the two: Rupert had become
so enmeshed in his work that he did not realize its basic futility, while the leisured Anna castigated the EU for its self-serving
nature. Shriver likened it to the Circumlocution Office in Dickens' Little Dorrit, whose employees spend most of
their time filling in forms, conducting meetings and thereby justifying their continued existence. He suggested that doling
out more money to bankrupt nations served no useful purpose whatsoever, other than giving the respective governments the chance
to increase their deficits. In a time of profound economic crisis, the EU bureaucrats and their counterparts at the IMF continue
to live the high life of endless parties, while the Euro keeps losing its financial credibility. Strauss-Kahn had become so
accustomed to this way of life that he believed himself immune from the laws of the land.
The action followed a familiar path: Rupert defended his job yet eventually climbed
down and decided to return to England to save his marriage. Fiona's naive liberalism triumphed; in her view economic survival
could only be attained once politicians climbed off the gravy train and listened to their people. It's a pity that Strauss-Kahn
and his fellow bureaucrats don't take more notice of this message; since Belgian Waffle was broadcast, the financial
position of several EU member states has grown even more parlous. One wonders quite where the crisis will end.