On the day that the UK went to the polls, to decide on its membership of the European Union, there was disastrous news from Antarctica.
The wind shrieked and wailed like the sound of pure grief; the frozen desert was cast in almost total darkness. It was a bracing −40 °C though the 80mph winds put an extra nip in the air. At midday Mr Floppy, the chairpenguin of the Penguin Central Bank, slumped out to address the colony.
“I have an announcement,” he honked pompously, smoothing his bow tie with a scrupulous flipper. “Over the last quarter, our rate of economic growth has finally exceeded that of the EU. This means that we are no longer the planet’s slowest economy.”
Most of his words were carried away by the wind. Around him, the penguins stood unmoving, like pillars in a blizzard. Only one of them croaked and shuffled restlessly.
“What are the figures for youth unemployment?”
“Our young penguins are especially energised. Compared to the under 25s in Spain and Greece, they are positively pulsating. Our youth is taking flight!” Mr Floppy winced. He could have chosen a happier metaphor.
Another penguin honked belatedly and this mournful sound gradually echoed around the colony. “Rejoice,” the penguins groaned.
Mr Floppy waddled back to his bank.
As he puffed on a celebratory cigar, Mr Floppy sat back and allowed himself to picture his forthcoming visit to Brussels. They were usually so snobbish about receiving a penguin in the European Parliament. This time, however, they would all be at the reception, Mario Draghi and Jean-Claude Juncker and Martin Schulz, all of them doting on his words as if they were jewels. “Greetings my friends,” Mr Floppy would squawk, his flippers flapping excitedly. “I have the key to our economic success and yours.”
Yes, Mr Floppy reflected to his satisfaction, the penguin system would certainly benefit the southern states of the Eurozone. Introducing snow as a currency would cause rapid deflation, as all the snow melted in the sunshine, until everybody’s debts had been wiped out. Then the young people in Greece and Italy and Spain could revert to an uncomplicated life of languidly foraging for fish.
“You’ve cracked it you old bugger,” President Juncker would laugh, giving Mr Floppy an amiable slap before draping himself drunkenly around the penguin’s shoulders like a scruffy coat. “It’s eluded us for so long… It’s eluded me and all of these useless bastards, Draghi who you can’t trust to pour a stiff one let alone fix Italian productivity, it’s eluded us all for so long…”
Please think upon Mr Floppy when you vote today.