I mentioned the quiz yesterday. Fancy a shot yourself?
1) What is the source of the EU anthem?
a) Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony
b) Mozart’s Magic Flute
c) Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique
2) How many stars does the EU flag have?
a) 6 – representing the founding members
b) 12 – traditionally the symbol of perfection, completeness and unity
c) 27 – one for each member state
3) What do you see on each of the 7 different Euro notes?
a) Presidents and kings
b) Famous poets and composers
c) Bridges and windows
4) Which one of the following words originates from the Czech language?
5) The EU has declared 2008 the European Year of…?
a) Intercultural Dialogue
c) Equal Opportunities for All
I was at Embankment Tube yesterday waiting for the Northern Line, on my way to Kentish Town to see Gomez. I sat on one of those seats and then thought, I think I know the guy sitting next to me! I looked (surreptitiously) and thought, he looks like Anthony Browne, who used to be Times correspondent in Brussels. The tube arrived, he got on and I didn’t, and seeing him face on I realised it was indeed Anthony, but it was too late. When I came in today, I thought I’d google him to see if he is still at the Times, but it turns out he’s just started as Policy Director for Boris Johnson! So if you’ve got a web alert set up for your name, Anthony, and it spews up this post – congratulations on the new job and it’d be nice to get in touch!
It was a day of renewing old friendships. As I say I was at the gig where Gomez played their Bring It On album, which won the Mercury Music Prize in 1998. Hearing each song was like rediscovering an old mate. Appropriate, because I was there with Jane, who I was at school with and until I moved back to London, hadn’t seen for about 15 years!
I’ve signed up to man our stall at the Thames Festival for a few hours next Sunday. Sounds like a fun event – as long as the weather holds. At least I’ll be under cover!
Just for information, I’ve started an events page – we support a lot of cultural events and I thought it would be good to let people know what is going on. I’ll do my best to update it regularly.
We’re launching a campaign today for children to design a poster to that depicts their rights.
“The right of the child to protection” competition is open to children and adolescents between the ages of 10 and 18 and asks them to design a poster on the right of children to protection in the European Union. These rights are enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental rights and the UN Charter on the Rights of the Child and include:
- such protection and care as is necessary for their well-being.
- expressing their views freely.
- Having the child’s best interests as a primary consideration.
- maintaining on a regular basis a personal relationship and direct contact with both his or her parents, unless that is contrary to his or her interests.
The deadline for submitting posters is 31 October of this year and winners will be announced on 20 November, the International Day of the Rights of the Child.
If you’re interested in getting involved, then send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
[Sorry about the illegibility of the home page of the website!]
Are you living in a “green” city? Then this might be of interest to you:
The European Green Capital Award (EGCA) promotes and rewards the efforts of local authorities in improving the environment. It is to be given each year to a European city with a population of more than 200,000 that is leading the way with environmentally friendly urban living. Four out of five Europeans now live in towns and cities so their environmental performance is becoming more and more important. Most of the environmental challenges facing our society originate from urban areas but it is also these urban areas that bring together the commitment and innovation needed to resolve them. The deadline for submitting applications for the 2010 and 2011 awards is 1st October 2008. If your city qualifies, then you can get more information on: www.europeangreencapital.eu
A crazy day today, with the announcement about the proposal to clarify an individual’s rights to get healthcare in another country. We came in this morning to find it was front page of the Daily Mail – positive EU coverage on the front page of the Mail!! An expert in the issue had come over from Luxembourg – an old friend, Nick Fahy – who did a great briefing for the press. We had quite a few people there, from the big papers, BBC Online and a specialist journal. It was very helpful for me if I end up having to answer any questions about it, as he really covered chapter and verse. The thing to remember if you are reading this is that these are rights that exist already – the directive will just codify and clarify them as set out in a series of European Court of Justice judgements since 1998. So you don’t have to wait the three years or whatever for it to come into force, if you want to exercise your right to go elsewhere (though you might have a bit of a tussle with your healthcare system!).
Off to Liverpool this afternoon, which will be my first “representational” trip. Quite looking forward to it, particularly as it is so focused on media and culture (European City of Culture!) so right up my street.
Got the new housemate coming in to sign his lease as well; I signed mine last night. I also found out yesterday that I will complete my house purchase in France on Tuesday – had to do a power of attorney for my father to sign the “acte authentique” as it is called because I wasn’t going to be able to get away. So home-ownership is but a few days away.
And if you’re wondering where all the hayfever whinging has gone, I have fabulous new pills which actually WORK! They’re called Aerius, prescription only and I cannot recommend them highly enough. The beneficial side-effect is that they really don’t mix with alcohol, so I’ve stopped drinking. It’s worth it to be able to function as a human being for most of the week!
Today is the 40th birthday of the Customs Union. One of the things I find when you talk to people about the EU is that some of the benefits have been around for so long that people take them for granted and only look at the immediate (true of anything I suppose). But without the Customs Union, that great British tradition – the booze cruise – would never exist. You would have to pay much more in Sainsbury’s for that nice Rioja that you had on holiday in Spain, or that smelly French cheese (yum!). You’d have to pay duties on anything over a certain level that you brought back from Europe – I know from being on rue Haute in Brussels on a Sunday that there are a lot of antique buyers that come over from the UK. The Customs Union goes further than that though – there’s a strong fight now against counterfeited goods. This may bring bags and clothes to mind, and seem inocuous enough, but it also includes things like medicines or toothpastes, where counterfeits can be very damaging to people’s health.
So happy birthday to the booze cruise and many happy returns (hic!)
I’ve already discovered how small London can be due to various overlaps with people – Hannah and the architecture festival, for example. But it was literally a village on saturday when I met my friend Kathryn and we took her some to the Holy Trinity Fete on Clapham Common. It was all a traditional English village fete should be – tents selling fairy cakes (and not an over-zealous EU food inspector in sight…!), dogs wearing rosettes from the dog show, a series of vegetable monsters that had been judged and prizes won, plus tombolas, raffles, games and even a brass band. And best of all, a Pimms stall! It was great, just like the fetes you remember when you were a kid.
In the evening I headed up to town, where Exhibition Road had been closed for music day and the beginning of the London Festival of Architecture. it was also the celebration (10 days early…) of the beginning of the French Presidency. I walked up exhibition road where there were bands on the street corners and loads of cool architectural exhibits. Then I headed to the Albert Memorial, where there was a stage set up in conjunction with the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue. As my luck would have it, I got there as some Germans who had listened to too much Kraftwerk were twiddling knobs, but it was good to be on the stall for half an hour and interact with people. It’s funny – far from what I would have expected – but I really get the feeling that the British public aren’t as EU-sceptic as they’re painted. Various things over the last few days are highlighting this – comments left on the BBC website, letters to some regional press, conversations with people who are from outside the “establishment”, EU or UK, who are fed up of only ever being given one side of the story. Maybe my work here will not be as hopeless as many are leading me to believe!!