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August 4, 2010updated 29 Jan 2016 11:14am

Dog Days

By Alessandro Tome

Alessandro Tomé growls at the crossbreed coalition that governs this mongrel nation
SO IN THE end I wasn’t right. But I wasn’t wrong either. Not quite. Neither wrong nor right. Something in-between. That’s what you got. Neither fish nor fowl. Something undetermined really. It may sink or it may swim, but either way that’s all you’ve got.

The Tories didn’t lose yet another election, but neither did they win it. They got into the offices of power but don’t really have all the power of the office. Poor Sam has to move into that crummy little flat at No 11 while expecting a child in the hope Dave turns into a Goliath of English politics while burdened with Sticky Nicky, who should be patented as fly-catching paper. Thin, yellow and sticky. From unknown to the back-room of power within a few weeks while actually getting fewer seats than before. You have to give it to him, he knows how to make it stick.

And you Brits just love your TV personalities, don’t you. Actually you really love anybody who’s vaguely more known than you, even within the neighbourhood. So the belated appearance of TV debates on your screens was always going to be a game-changing event. Just as that orgy of public self-debasement called Big Brother was excruciatingly coming to its long-overdue last airing, you were aching for something new. With perfect timing, the debates arrived and Davina was replaced in your TV hearts by Sticky Nicky. Not that you wanted to have him in power any more than having Davina running anything other than a grubby chip shop. But a TV star was born nonetheless.

And so here you are with your fishy fowl of a government for supposedly the next five years. You never know how it is going to work out, that mixed-breed thing — it can always go either way. As you are a country of dog lovers (how many French people take the pictures of their dogs on holidays, I ask), I thought perhaps the best image to help you better grasp the challenges and danger of these new politics would be a LabradOodle or PugGle.

One morning someone decides to have a rather large beagle force himself on to a hapless pug and see what may painfully come out. Ditto for the lab on the poodle. As it turns out, rather nice if weird new dogs. What if your electorate has created a DachsAtian or WestTiff instead? I mean, you already crossed a Jack Russell with a Polish Lowland sheepdog and got Russell Brand, so it couldn’t get much worse, but you just never know.
YOU HAVE CALLED your current political experiment, which a minority of you have imposed on the majority thanks to your electoral system, the LibCon. Not very catchy or inspiring — although better than the alternative, first-name-based Dick & Nave Show. Do we need to go any further, I ask. Too many puns come to mind but one must still ask who is conning whom. Is it partnership or compromise?

As partnerships go, Dolce & Gabbana has a better ring to it. Marks and Spencer worked out pretty well, Ant and Dec are having a good go. But for all these we can’t forget some less glorious ones such as Russell & Bromley, Cheech and Chong or Siegfried and Roy.

But now we have to let your creation gestate and see what pups we get in the end. Too late to tinker or change your mind; you voted for this. Now come the real tests, the ability for managing partnerships and compromises. All partnerships need compromise to have any chance of success, and here the early signs are good. Marriages are the most common and widespread form of partnership, even if denigrated and under threat from all corners.

Undermined by minorities, punished by left-wing governments, derided by so-called liberals, exploited by unscrupulous lawyers, they nonetheless still survive and thrive if they have the ability to compromise. Compromise not as in the feeling of defeat and deflation that is often associated with the concept of compromise. Not as in feeling a loss of our freedom, our sacrifice at the altar of the other, engendering a sense of martyrdom that can only be sated by being shown eternal gratitude or equivalent sacrifice. And if not, then resulting in an ever growing inner resentment that will ultimately explode in a gush of devastating magma.

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Compromise not as in the sensation of having to give up on things but more in how we actually gain so many other things by the union of two different lines of thoughts and desires. Compromise as in the ability to appreciate that your wants, needs, wishes and freedom overlap and end near where those of others start.

Compromise as the emergence of a new feeling, a new thought, a new freedom and new exciting energy and strength from the commonality of purpose, and which pushes us to conquer new challenges. Let us hope that Dick & Nave find that fine line that separates compromise from chaos in the fickle world of politics and electoral psyche. So far so good: it looks like a LiberadOodle rather than a bull terrier and shih-tzu mix…
We have to make decisions all day, most days. And we inevitably screw it up at some point in the day, unless you are one of those guys or gals who never get it wrong and consequently have few friends left. Most of them don’t mind hanging out with you because they are so busy listening to themselves, they don’t really have time to listen to you and therefore find you bearable.

Or perhaps you are just a French politician and never make a decision, in which case you can’t get it wrong and that leaves you with enough time to criticise everyone else for actually making one. Either way, both unbearable.

For the rest of us fallible ones, having an opportunity to be only occasionally French and let others make decisions is a real treat, but a dangerous one. Dangerous because we will only criticise ourselves for choosing badly when, how and to whom we have relinquished such responsibility. But such elation can ensue from the pleasure of just being along for the ride.

So try these two for size. First one: call fabulous tapas restaurant Cambio de Tercio owner Abel Lusa and ask him to give you a table. That’s the only decision to make there; let them take over from here. Particularly if Roberto is your waiter, whatever you do, do not decide on anything further except perhaps who pays. Let him choose what you eat, when, in which order and with what wine.

Most of it will be unknown to you unless you are an ardent visitor of various Spanish gastronomic regions and an expert in their wine appellations. But all of it will be sublime, refreshing, surprising and totally satisfying. You will leave with a huge smile on your face in the knowledge you made the best decision of your day: not to make any on the night.

If you are emboldened by this experience and find yourself Ibiza-bound, here is the second: try to find Can Bufi in San Augustin (not difficult once you find San Augustin). While you will miss Roberto and need to make a couple of decisions for yourself, know that you can’t get much wrong in choosing from the inspired and eclectic menu, having already made the best decision of all: being there.

Cambio de Tercio
163 Old Brompton Road
London SW5 0LJ
Tel: +44 (0)20 7244 8970

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