MONACO MON AMOUR? by Donal Kennedy

I never was aware of Jim Ratcliffe’s existence until a few minutes ago and would believe that he has never been aware of mine. The Guardian reports –

  1. He’s Britain’s rchest man.
  2. That he’s an influential Brexiteer.
  3. That various EU countries have done deals with his companies that will make him much richer however the cookies crumble. 
  4. That if Britain does not leave the EU he will betake himself to the Continent and settle in Monaco.

For me the Mediterranean has many charms and a couple of years ago I found out that it hosts (within its waters) some forty species of sharks. I had just been swimming on the beach beside the fort that is the summer residence of France’s President and having got out, put on my glasses and a teeshirt and gone for a paddle in about 4 inches of water. There was a sudden movement and a large beautifully streamlined creature, jet black, about one metre from nose to tail, chasing a fish that I might myself accommodate for dinner, came within a yard of me heading for the beach. In manoeuvres analogous to those of coursing hares and greyhounds, fish and shark turned 180 degrees and headed out at speed. I understand sharks can do about 30 or 40 miles an hour, or whatever that translates to in knots.

 Anyhow, eat your heart out, David Attenborough!

I bet in all your years nature watching you’ve never seen a more beautiful nor exciting chase.

Not all sharks are so beautiful nor do they all live in the sea. Some swan about on the sea in privately- owned ships hundreds of metres long, miscalled yachts, because they have no sails, costing hundreds of millions of pounds, festooned with paintings worth much more. Not because they love the sea, or rowing, paddling or sailing, which can be enjoyed at modest expense,nor that they appreciate art, but to flash their wealth.

The favourite European pied a terre  of these sharks is Monaco. You don’t have to be within a hundred miles of it to smell it. Just in range of Radio Monte Carlo.

In September 1988 my wife and I paid our first visit to Venice, via France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, over the Grossglockner Pass 2,504 metres above sea level, in a VW Polo, camping.  We were sufficiently within range of Radio Monte Carlo to get the moral measure of the place.

The advertisements would defy satire. Luxury yachts. Persian Rugs.Mink Coats. Filipina Housemaids.

I was astounded to hear of a forthcoming Monte Carlo rally by Republicans and thought  for a moment Prince Rainier might be for the chop. No such luck.Well-heeled American heels were doing their bit for Presidential candidate George Bush.

We had previously visited Monte Carlo and were impressed by its ugliness. A pink, unlovely 19th century cathdedral built on the site of a medieval church. Skyscrapers from the 1950s or later built anywhere, unlike those of Manhattan or Chicago built from sea or lake level giving them some symmetry. Ugly women walking poodles with diamond-studded collars.

What did Hiroshima ever do to merit nuclear destruction?

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