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The Mechanisms and Function of the European Union Going Forward into the 21st Century or Quid Pro Euro? - This is a European Videos Production.
We're nearly at the end of 1995. A year for the history books! But what's next for the EU when we leave this decade, this century, and this thousandry? In this series, we’re going to find out. Today: Recreation.
In today's Europe, citizens take part in a wide range of recreational activities. Gardening. Cartography. Translating a book. Military service. And not forgetting the official sport of the union: Foot. We love nothing more than to come together and play. Who's this crowd limbering up in a field? Why it’s some whalers.
This is Stefano. In a back street of Milan, under a wooden sign, an aged artisan makes bright white candles in the way he learned from his grandfather. To those who know, when compared to other candles, these flames burn longer and brighter. Stefano works for that man as a Human Resources Assistant.
It’s a bank holiday and Stefano is enjoying a lie-in with his partner, Alexander. In a cobbled Bavarian square, a wooden toy maker peers over his half-moon glasses to put the final polish on a red-breasted soldier. To those who know, buying a hoop-and-stick or perhaps even a rocking horse from the old master and his gentle bearded smile is as much a joy as is to watch that toy unwrapped by a child on Christmas Eve. Alexander is his plumber.
Stefano and Alexander live in an old French eleventh floor apartment with unbeatable views of Calais. From their bedroom window, they can see a wine warehouse. The Italian and the German speak in their common language: Breton. On this lazy morning, they’re talking about how they like their eggs. Alexander prefers them scrambled. Stefano likes them poached.
Proper attention to rest and hobbies is ensured for all by the European Department for Rest and Hobbies which is located here in Attic Level Two of the European Commission on the Schumann Roundabout in Brussels. To find it, take the elevator up to the Helipad, knock the secret knock on the trapdoor, and slip yourself in. You’ll have to crawl: Attic Level Two is exactly fifty eight centimetres high - that’s the height of two non-standard rulers!
Now that he’s up, Stefano finds it hard to stay away from his work. He’s not supposed to spend his bank holiday reading applications from graduates of the Milan School of Candlemaking but that is exactly what he’s doing. Look Stefano, Alexander has cooked you a poached egg. What do you think? Hmm, a bit distracted, isn’t he? Look Stefano, Alexander has cooked you another poached egg. Still no reaction. Look Stefano, Alexander has cooked you a third poached egg. Anything? Oh dear.
In the European Union, having fun is serious business. But why? To illustrate, we’ll need Fatima. Is that alright, Fatima? Thank you. Fatima is a theatre lighting technician in The Algarve. In a normal week, she changes on average two hundred and twenty light bulbs. That’s a normal week following a restful weekend when she can indulge in her hobbies: playing the guitar, origami, and luge. This week, for our experiment, we have asked Fatima if she would mind foregoing her restful weekend and staying at work instead. In theory, that should mean a few more changed light bulbs, shouldn’t it? So. Here we are the following Friday. Fatima has worked without a break for twelve days. How many lightbulbs has she changed? Is it more than two hundred and twenty? The same? Fewer? It’s: five. Oh dear!
In Calais, Alexander has lined up ten poached eggs on the table in front of Stefano. Oh! Is he reaching for one? No. He is reaching over the eggs to the pile of CVs. How do you feel, Alexander? Oh no, Alexander has put on a baseball cap.
Luxembourg, today, a prosperous trilingual country within spitting distance of the Schumann Roundabout in Brussels. Look, we asked this waitress to stand on the Schumann roundabout and spit at Luxembourg. Can she do it?
Jean-Claude Juncker is the President of Luxembourg. Here he is, enjoying a day out with … who? Is it his sister? No, not his sister. Is it his bank manager? No, not his bank manager. Is it … him? It’s him. Him is sublime leader of Europe: Barracuda. Barracuda, who recently took over as both Grand-Duke and best-rated talk show host of Luxembourg, loves to help our Union let its hair down, and he does it with such style! Here he is enjoying a cigarette in a Ferrari in a bigger Ferrari. In the 21st century, for the benefit of all European citizens, Barracuda is replacing Luxembourg with a stylish multi-sport complex, swimming pool and cinema. Work has already begun on this part of Luxembourg City. Wave goodbye to the financial district and wave hello to… the wave machine!
Back in Calais, Alexander is staring glumly at his kitchen table and the pyramid of eighty one cold poached eggs. Not that glumly! He’s had a new idea. Alexander has convinced Stefano to go for a walk. A new shop has opened in the centre of town selling the one product that so regularly tempts British and Irish weekenders across the Channel to buy in Calais duty-free.
Jigsaw puzzles are enjoying a resurgence. They’ve been around a while! They were invented by Charlemagne. Charlemagne was named for one of the founding fathers of the European Union: Jean Monnet. But their format varied widely until it was standardised in 1957 through the Treaty of Rome. Today, every European can unwind with a good jigsaw safe in the knowledge that all the pieces will fit together, that the revealed image will be the same as the one on the box, and that there is no danger of accidentally activating yourself and shooting the mayor. In the twenty-first century, to help us unwind every home will have a well stocked jigsaw puzzle cupboard by law.
Goodness! This jigsaw shop is certainly piled high. It’s so full that the owner has had to disassemble herself and is lying in pieces around the cash register. Look, Stefano, a shelf dedicated to jigsaws which depict the EU’s best monuments! There’s the Arc de Triomphe, there’s the Brandenberg Gate, The Arc du Cinquentenaire, The Munich Victory Gate, Marble Arch! Such a varied continent. Are you tempted?
Here in Amsterdam, nothing is quite so tempting as the bookshops. On days off in the Dutch capital, competitive reading is all the rage. On sunny weekends, thousands of people head into town with their classic novels. And novellas! These streets are now closed to traffic as the lycra-clad participants sit on the road and try to get through as many classic novels, and novellas!, as they can while the thronging spectators call encouragements from behind barricades and douse them with water. [splash] Oh no! Looks like someone needs a dry copy of Mme Bovary!
Back in Calais, what does Stefano think of his new jigsaw puzzle? Let’s have a look at what he’s chosen. Ah, a good one for a beginner: it’s the colour dark grey. Very soothing. And with two thousand different pieces, you’ll be there for a while. But is it relaxing him?
His shoulders have dropped. His jaw is slack. His shoelace is untied. Alexander, look away a second from that poaching water. See? Behind the teetering pile of CVs, Stefano may be about to lose his job, but he has found... his smile.
We have a lot of hard work to do between now and the day we hold Festival22, the Festival to welcome the twenty first century. But that doesn’t mean we can’t take breaks! Now crack open the Champagne and pour yourself a bubble bath.
This has been a European Videos Production.