A French diplomat present at the Brussels negotiations between Greece and the EU, most of which took place in Donald Tusk’s office, described them as “extremely hard, even violent”.
That piqued my interest, for I know that my friend Angie likes it rough… negotiating, that is, what did you think I meant? So I rang Angie up and asked her to send me the transcript of the session, swearing to her on the eurozone’s grave to keep it off the record.
She kindly obliged, and here are some excerpts, strictly between you and me:
Angela Merkel (AM): Alexis, you know ve’ve got veys to make you sign. He who signs goes home. He who doesn’t sign goes Luft. Like in ze old days.
François Hollande (FH): Easy, Angie, if it pleases you. No need to get upset. Alexis is going to sign. Aren’t you, Alexis mon ami? We don’t want to make Angie angry, is that not so?
Alexis Tsipras (AT): Yes, but this thing with loo paper…
AM: Sei still, you Greek schwein! Two-ply Klopapier is a vaste of Papier! Das ist ausgeschlossen! Out of ze question! Zat’s how your whole economy vent down ze toilet!
AT: Speaking of which, may I be excused for a minute? I need to, you know…
AM: You need to sign zis, zat’s vhat you need, and you’re not leaving ze room until you do. Verstehst du? Ve’ve got veys to make you verstehen!
AT: At least let me to talk to Junk… Jean-Claude Juncker, that is. Why isn’t he here?
AM: He’s pissed as a Furz, zat’s vy.
FH: Now, now, Angie, mon petit poussin, let’s not be crude. Jean-Claude is otherwise engagé, let’s put it this way. And he hates being called ‘Junk’.
AT: If I sign this, they’ll have my you-know-what for keftedakia, meatballs, back home! We owe hundreds of billions, for Zeus’s sake! What kind of difference will an extra ply on a bog roll make?
FH: You forget, mon ami, what our teacher Mao taught: un voyage de mille kilomètres starts with a single step. Mao tells you everything you need to know about the economy. So take this one step…
Donald Tusk (DT): And if you don’t take it, psa krew, I’ll beat the living gówno out of you, like we do at football matches…
FT: Spare us your childhood memories, Don, mon ami. There’s no besoin existentiel ou immanent to beat the living merde out of notre ami Alexis. He’ll sign, is that not so, Alexis? You’re not going to hold this deal over papier toilette?
AT: It’s not just that. It’s that my people voted in the referendum…
AM: You know vhat you can do with zat referendum, Schweinhund? Use it for Klopapier! Single-ply!
FH: Angie, doucement, s’il te plait… We’ve avancé past the papier toilette, single- or double-ply. And Don, mon ami, let go of Alexis’s lapels. Can’t you see he is agreeing with you?
DT: If this piece of gówno doesn’t sign, his dupa is grass!
AT: Please, I need to call my people in Athens…
AM: Go ahead, call away, Dummkopf. If you can still afford to call long distance, that is.
AT: But there is no phone in the room…
DT: If there were, I’d shove it up your dupa!
FH: Doucement, Don, doucement, Angie. Comment dites-vous en Anglais? Easy does it. Oh, so sorry, Alexis… it was an accident. Angie didn’t mean to hit you, did you, Angie?
AM: Hit? I’ll kill this Abschaum! I’ll send him back to Greece to be a goatherd! Himmelherrgott!
FH: You must comprendre, Alexis, this hurts Angie more than it hurts you. She’s only doing this for your own good…
This is all my friend Angie sent me in strict confidence. The transcript is regrettably incomplete, but we know how the scene ended, even if the overall soap opera is still on-going.
As the lead paragraph in The Times story put it: “Greek leader gave in to every one of Merkel’s demands in brutal talks behind closed doors.”
Hence prospective British visitors to the birthplace of selective democracy would be well-advised to take several rolls of two-ply loo paper with them, if that is the type they prefer.
Meanwhile, I’d like to congratulate my friend Angie on her astonishing attention to detail. Sunday trading, bakery deregulation, sell-by date on milk – nothing escaped her probing eye, no square of Greek loo paper was left unturned. She has done her great nation proud.