A very Greek tragedy

Once upon a time, in an age that has now all but been forgotten, there was a young man born in what is now modern-day Austria. He wanted very much, so we are to be told, to be a painter – but his father, a no-nonsense civil servant, would have none of this silliness. And, anyway, he wasn’t very good.

Some years, and a few intriguing plot twists later, there entered two statesmen on to the scene. One came from a very cold land island to the north, where it rained all the time and they played strange games with ducks and googlies that no one else could really understand the rules of, and certainly it could never be explained. The other statesman came from a warmer place, where it wasn’t thought a schoolyard prank to serve up things found at the bottom of the garden on a slice of toast.

At the time of which we now speak, the failed artist, whom we introduced at the start of this tale, was slowly fading into obscurity. He hadn’t yet taken to jumping on tables in the middle of a beer hall – that would come – and was simply drifting.

But then the first of the two statesmen, he from the cold land of confusing games, started talking about lemons. And that is always a mistake. (Actually, there’s a good chance that the words often attributed to him, about lemons that is, were actually said by someone else; but that is very much by-the-by).

You see, he wanted to squeeze this lemon very hard indeed. So hard, in fact, that the pips would squeak. And though I have squeezed many-a-lemon in my time, I have never heard the pips squeak. So he must have wanted to squeeze them very hard indeed.

That was when the failed artist started leaping on beer hall tables and promising a better future for his people, who weren’t really his people at all.

The rest has been written in the history books.

Different alliances. Different lemons. Different reasons, perhaps.

One hopes there will also be different outcomes.

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