Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Berlin any more

So the former President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Christian Wulff, forced to resign (as you doubtless recall) as his fondness for the jet-setting high life came to light, just never quite manages to leave the newspapers. He may have been moved off the front page in favour of more important stories (like the Queen of England’s Diamond Jubilee), but he still takes up too many column inches for a man in his position.

He’s not willing to forego his €199,000 pension. He insists on his right to have a staffed office for the rest, it seems, of his natural life, costing the taxpayer another €280,000 a year. Now he wants a big send-off.

Apparently, he’s entitled to a Zapfenstreich, a word which can refer either to Last Post, or a full military tattoo. Since he’s not dead (and so still costing the taxpayer €479,000 annually), we’re talking about the tattoo: the sort where a military band plays a selection of songs by torchlight.

Wulff is entitled to choose three songs he’d like to have, and so he chose four. At this point, even his closest allies are starting to shuffle their feet in embarrassment. He’s chosen a march, a hymn, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, and…

Over the Rainbow.

Nobody’s quite sure what to make of that, but a song that is indelibly associated with a flight of fancy into a faraway world populated by talking lions and flying monkeys is an odd choice to say the least. I’ll leave you to ponder on what it says about the emotional state of the man, but it strikes me that there must be other songs more suited to politicians than the usual pompous church music.

ABBA’s hit Money, Money, Money, for example, might do for most politicians, including Wulff. Also appropriate for Wulff, and any politician forced to leave in disgrace, might be Ray Charles singing Hit the Road, Jack. The obvious choice for any politician caught out in the more lurid sort of scandal would be It Wasn’t Me by Shaggy. And so on; you get the general idea.

We can only hope that we never have to use Sympathy for the Devil.

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