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Hello Europeans. This is a difficult time for all of us. Losing Barracuda is like losing a parent, and also a child. But at European Videos, we think that Barracuda wouldn’t want us to be sad that he was dead, he’d want us to be glad that he had been alive. And also maybe vengeful. In that spirit, we want to celebrate his existence by reissuing an old episode, the most popular we ever made by a long margin. It sold millions which is extraordinary when you remember that these videos are freely distributed for internal training purposes only.
This is a difficult time for all of us. We hope that playing this episode one more time brings you solace, and maybe even joy.
Once again, today: Barracuda.
It’s a very special day in the European Union. Today is Barracuda’s birthday. The leader of Europe is celebrating sixty years and everyone is waiting to find out which city he has chosen to throw him a party.
Hello, it's Alex. I used to work with Barracuda when he had his offices at the Palais de Versailles. I was actually, I was a gardener there and I know many people probably think that he doesn't make the time to visit everyone but he did! I remember Barracuda decided to go on a tour of the vegetable gardens. People came to get me saying: "Barracuda's coming into the garden," and he seemed very impressed with the amount of food we had and I spoke with him and he asked me if I had any kids, any children. And, you know, I didn't at the time. I was quite happy not to have any but I will always remember that night I came back to my house and at my kitchen table I found two young children, a boy and a girl, six and ten, and, well, now I have my little Marie and Thomas. ... I mean... I always thought that I didn't want children. You know, I'm very independent. I have quite a big responsibility at Versailles as you can imagine, you know, very many gardens to take care of but that was one of the highlights of my career: to have him come all the way out to outside where I am working, a very important man, and, you know, it might sound a bit cliché but I truly believe that you are what you eat and so for him to have, you know, the produce that I have been charge of, that I have helped create, to have that be part of his diet... I was so proud in the moment. I am going to, err, I do tell my children and they are going to remember it for a long time. It's a very special moment. Paris, the city that never grew up. People come to Paris from all over the Union when they need to regress, to turn back into who they were before they acquired the burdensome indicators of adulthood like mortgages and my children. Look, there’s a wide-eyed young violinist out by the river sharing a bottle of wine with a wise old biker gang. Hallo, ja, my name is Alex. I am an adminstrator for what in Germany we call a Privat Kindergarten, it translates roughly as a private kindergarten, in Munich. I met Barracuda when he was a young man. He was hitchhiking in Bavaria around München where I've always lived. And he had his thumb out so I stopped my car and I gave him a lift and he said if I ever needed a favour I could contact him. I did recently. I needed a favour from him. So last year, a rival kindergarten had opened not so far from me, just across the road really, and took a lot of our business. And so I called Barracuda; I had his number still. And the next day, the very next day, all the children in the rival private nursery, they went on strike. Ja. And it turned out that the police, they had found a landmine in one of the cots. Ja. And of course, children, you know they have very strong unions and they boycotted that school and it had to close down and now I have all the business again. The kindergarten business, for me, is not just business: it's very, very personal. I was a child myself quite a long time ago and I think when I look at my life and I think about when I was the best, the best possible version of me, I think that was probably when I was a kindergarten-aged child. It's about myself and... Like taking care of myself really. I just wanted to say thank you from the bottom of my heart.
The event will start here, on the Champ de Mars, the green space which sits at the base of the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower was named after one of the founding fathers of 19th century industrial architecture: Gustave Eiffel. Gustave Eiffel was named after his grandfather: Gustave Eiffel, who was named for his great grandfather Gustave Eiffel, who was named for his uncle Gustave Eiffel, who was named for his father Gustave Eiffel, who was named for his father Gustave Eiffel who was named for the mayor of the village of Eiffel who was called M. Gustave and was named for his great-grandfather, M. Gustave, who was named after a character in a book, Le Grand Gustave, which was a satirical allusion to a local nobleman called M. LeGrand, whose name dates back through his ancestors to a very tall man called Jean, nicknamed Jean LeGrand, who, as a particularly skeptical man, was also called Jean Mon Oeuil, “mon oeuil” being a common expression of disbelief. Jean Mon Oeuil often shared his name with his identical twin brother, Jean Mon Oeuil, who would go on to have many children. Over the centuries, the MonOeuil surname was corrupted and shortened but survived nevertheless, like an old farmhouse dairy full of interchangeable cows. Cows are named after one of the founding fathers of the European Union: Jean Monnet. At the bottom of the Eiffel Tower, first thing this morning, sound engineer Ségolene is making sure the whole city will hear the celebrations. She has a team climbing to the top of the tower filling every gap in the frame with sound cones. Then they cover over the gaps with a metallic black mesh: the effect is of a tall thin pyramid shaped amplifier. Which is what it is. The final step is connecting the Eiffel Tower to a Walkman. 1. Hi, I'm Alex.
2. And I'm Alex.
1. I'm originally from Doddington
2. And I come from Alconbury so we're both from Cambridgshire
1. But not Cambridge.
1. We met Barracuda when we were on trial for treason.
2. Yeah, that's right, we were! I remember: I was the mastermind behind giving the nuclear codes away and I tricked, you were working as an IT technician -
1. That's right. Very lowly. I don't know if you've ever worked in IT but when you work in IT it is the most soul destroying job anyone could ever have. You have to sort out- Imagine, you know when you go home to your parents at Christmas and they ask you to do all the updates on their computer and there's so many viruses... imagine that but it's 365 days a year.
2. Alex, it's over now. They're both dead.
1. That's what it's like being in IT.
2. I know. So this was really thrust upon you, wasn't it Alex because-
1. Yeah. But the nuclear codes business and the trial in The Hague, that was a party in comparison to being in IT. 2. So we both ended up on trial together. 1. Yeah. Well it was two consecutive trials with a couple of days overlapping in the middle... so we gave away nuclear codes to Oslo basically. 2. Yes, that's what the whole thing was about. Wouldn't you know it: up in the gallery watching the trial was none other than Barracuda. 1. He was. 2. Yeah. I mean the first impression you get it one of just absolute awe, isn't it? 1. Yeah. 2. He's always got his shirt split right down to his navel, unbuttoned. 1. Yeah, and all of the gold jewellery. 2. I know, it's astonishing. At first I thought that was a sort angelic choir, a sort of: "Ahhhh." 1. He thought that we were very enterprising. 2. Yes, that's right. 1. And he invited us to his study after the trial to work for him. There we were. He found the two of us too bulky, two bodies. 2. He likes to have quite a streamlined workforce. 1. Streamlined, yes. So he cut us in half and sewed us together. 2. I'd say... Well, excuse me for being presumptuous in saying this but I'd say we've both found a best friend. 1/2. Thank you, Barracuda. At the other end of the Champ de Mars, the finest baguette maker in France is in charge of security. Fences are set up everywhere. To be safe, he has extended the fence building programme to the whole city. Every street is blocked off at both ends. One unintended consequence is that each street has immediately declared itself a separate nation and is now negotiating treaties with all the others by shouting across the rooftops. Hello, my name is Alex. I'm Bulgarian but I live in Sweden. I work for Sportlife. I'm in their communications division. Sportlife is a chewing gum brand. It's very popular. The culture in the gum world is very macho. Yeah. You have to be tough. Very recently I took part in a charity fundraising footrace. You know, footrace where you don't run: you just kind of walk. And then people give you money. And it went very badly. Very badly indeed. I've lost my foot. And I thought: "I'm going to write to Barracuda." I have never actually met Barracuda (I wish) but I had posters of him on the wall when I was growing up and, actually, my mother, she painted a painting of Barracuda so, you know, we had pictures of him everywhere. And I wrote to him and he sent me: a wheel. And now I have: a wheel. It is wooden. It's the size of a ... what's a large thing? ... kind of like my chair. This is something I can really brag about in the, back with the guys, with the gum guys. They always say I'm bragging about it. "Oh, you've got the wheel of Barracuda." And I do brag. It's the proudest possession I own. Thank you, Barracuda. It is just after lunchtime. In this tent, brasserie owner Bruno is in charge of the evening’s refreshments. Bruno wants to make an impression and has partnered with the Musée d’Orsai to draw inspiration from the finest depictions of food and drink of the last five hundred years. Surrounded by the most famous artwork in the world, Bruno is making clothes on his sewing machine to dress champagne bottles like Dutch peasants in a Vermeer painting. He puts a bonnet on a bottle of Dom Pérignon and adjusts it so that the bottle appears to be pouring a jug of milk into a bowl. What do you think, Bruno? Magnificent. 1/2. Hey Barracuda! 1. You crazy fish, how are you? 2. We've been asked to call up and share some happy stories with you. Happy memories. 1. Yes. Happy memories. Back in the university days when we were all living together! 2. Aww yeah. Oh you've probably guessed who it is, by the way: it's German Alex. 1. Yes, it's Dutch Alex. 2. The Alexes! 1. You know, the Alexes. Living together at uni was just the best time, wasn't it? 2. Oh yeah, absolutely, absolutely. Do you remember the time we were playing the three-way ping-pong? It's very difficult. There's a type of table that only exists on the Dutch-German border. 1. Yes, we actually had to have it delivered. Didn't we? 2. Ja ja, we did. Specially made. 1. Specially made. 2. A triangle. And Barracuda was playing, he jammed his knee into the side of table and because it was a triangle that corner was so sharp. There was so much blood! 1. Yes! And also, he insisted on using this ping-pong paddle. Barracuda had this special ping-pong paddle, didn't he? 2. Yeah, he did, ja. 1. It was shaped, basically like, he'd cut out a picture. Who did he cut out a picture of? It was... maybe his mother? 2. I think it was his mother. Distant cousin or something. 1. Yes, distant cousin. 2. Very attractive woman. 1. Very attractive. 2. Strong jawline. 1. But he would strap this picture of his mother to just a frying pan and he used that just to hit the ball back and forth.
2. Yeah. Do you remember when you did the crossword and he set fire to your newspaper?
1. He set fire to my newspaper when I beat him at the crossword.
2. That is Barracuda's way, you know? You can't change someone.
1. Yeah! He's the man. You know? He's the man.
2. Absolutely. We will forever be grateful to you for helping us achieve our dream jobs, you know?
1. Yes, of course. Me: as a pilot.
2. Me as a co-pilot.
1. And thanks to you, Barracuda.
2. And you stood by us through the crashes as well.
1. Oh my God, stood by us through all those crashes.
2. So many crashes.
1. So many crashes. All those people died.
2. Of course, it's like we call him, we say: "Hi Barracuda, we've crashed another plane," and he is like: "You guys, -"
1. "-please stop doing that."
2. "Please stop crashing planes. They're really expensive."
1. And we say: "Sorry." "That's ok!"
2. And then he'll ask about the cargo normally of the planes.
1. And often he asks us to send some cargo to him specially.
2. Maybe a box of marrows there.
2. A crate of tomatoes here. Some rare reptile eggs. Anything for him, really.
1. Here, on his sixtieth birthday... it's just, it's a very emotional time for us.
2. Yes, the achievements of the man has got in his years. And he's got so many more to come, you know that. He's always been... he's had greatness as a part of him, hasn't he?
1. Yes. Greatness.
It is late in the afternoon. The sun will soon go down. Will the party be properly lit? Let’s ask this crowd. To make sure the event has the very best lighting, the city of Paris has hired three hundred and thirty eight fashion models, all of whom specialise in clothing catalogues, for pensioners. Before they get to work tonight, the steel-haired bombshells are finishing their aperitifs and swapping news about grandchildren, recipes for family gatherings, and tips on how best to work with clients who want to use the new fotograph Eternal macro lenses.
Hey Mme. Aurélie with your chick black glass of Apérol Spritz, what do you think? Will this birthday party have some good lighting?
Mme. Aurélie doesn’t offer an answer. But she does offer that brazen wink that has convinced so many of us to pick up the phone and order a dark grey cardigan.
Night has fallen. The city holds its breath. Everything is ready but ... where is the guest of honour? Wait. What’s that? From the east, a footstep negotiates its way through the Most Glorious and Democratic Empire of the Rue de l’Université. Is it a resident? It’s not a resident. Residents of that road are still waiting for their passports to be printed. Is it a President? It’s not a President. The Empire of the Rue de l’Université has yet to fully structure an administration which has the capability of recognising the status of visiting dignitaries. Is it … him?
It’s him. Him is the birthday boy of Europe: Barracuda. Barracuda, who gets up every day at 5.15 to make a bed until his house is full of beds and then he makes a house instead. Barracuda, whose contralto news bulletins keep us all sleeping well. Barracuda, the father figure’s father figure.
My name is Alex. I am a supermarket checkout operator in Supervalue in Mullingar. I met Barracuda, when was it now, I'd say three or four months ago. He came down to Mullingar. Came in. Big news in the local paper. And all the national papers as well but I only read the local one. He walked up to me and he said: "You look like a smart lad." You know. And that really made me feel like life was worth living because I wasn't sure what I could be, what I could do, and I was just working in the supermarket to get a bit of money together or... just to... I was just waiting to figure out what I was going to do with my life but I knew in that moment that this was it. So after he said this to me, right, he said: "Listen, I'm opening a chain of supermarkets and I want to see if you could show me the ropes." So I said: "Yeah, come on, get back here you, you big tall bastard you," and he did: he came round and, I swear to God, without even telling him, it was like... he was such a natural. It was pretty incredible. And after that, he loved it so much that he actually went and bought the supermarket for me. That particular branch of the supermarket. And that's where I'm calling from right now. Now that it's my house, I want to keep it as a home and all the other staff... They want to leave, they want to go to their own homes but I would rather that they stay because I want it to be just like the day he came to Mullingar. So they all have to stay here with me. Thank you Barracuda for everything you've done for me and to me and at me.
The word reaches Ségolene who presses play on her Walkman and … oh no, nothing happened! What’s going on?
Of course. You forgot to plug in the Eiffel Tower. There you go.
As Barracuda arrives, Bruno pops a vast quantity of impressionist champagne corks up into the sky where they hang and glow. A starry night indeed. Three hundred and thirty eight oap clothing catalogue models take up positions around the perimeter. That have struck a variety of poses, the sort that are guaranteed to sell you a pair of rugged brogues or some reading glasses on a string. Such is the mature models’ shining beauty that the champagne starlight doesn’t only illuminate them but bounces back onto the field. As they change position to alleviate cramp, the lighting dances.
Now that’s a party.
Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, Barracuda!
Bonne anniversaire, Barracuda!
Happy birthday, Barracuda!
Честит рожден ден, Баракуда.
Lá breithe sona duit, Barracuda. Happy birthday, you big tall animal, you.
Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, Barracuda!
Gelukkige verjaardag, Barracuda!
In the twenty-first century, we’ll always have: Barracuda.