“Lovely Jubbly” – June 3rd 2012

“Jubbly”, in its original form, was not an abbreviation of “Jubilee” but a triangular shaped orange drink; a Tetra Pak forerunner if you will, often consumed frozen, in the 50s and 60s, and no doubt a favourite of Prince Charles, a contemporary of mine, both of us being born in 1948. He may well have been the instigator of the phrase “Lovely Jubbly” but urban myth has it that Del Boy of “Only Fools and Horses” fame beat him to it. – Rodney: “‘Ere Del, geezer over there says he’ll give you a pony (£25) for the Betamax video recorder if you throw in a case of that Yugoslavian Scotch.” Del Boy: “Lovely Jubbly!”

 In 1952, the year of our esteemed monarch’s coronation, banks only cashed cheques and if your father had been to school with the manager you stood a very slim chance of being allowed to open an account, but heaven help you if you went one single old penny (1d) overdrawn. When I was first granted this accolade, in nineteen-sixty something, I was given my first cheque book, which contained 30 cheques. On each one a stamp duty levy of 1d was made so the first item on my very first bank statement was an overdrawn balance of 2s&6d (12 old pennies to a shilling (1s). My children have never understood why we went through the nonsense of Lsd (pounds (L), shillings (s) and pence (d), and there will be a number of “overseas” readers who will find the rules of cricket far less daunting than our monetary peccadilloes…) nor for that matter how we survived our formative years sans Facebook and iPads; although the other LSD may have had something to do with that…) My account has been overdrawn ever since so any blame for the ravages of fractional reserve banking cannot be laid at my door.

 In 1957 the Treaty of Rome ushered in the European Economic Community. Britain was not a party as De Gaulle was not convinced about our political will for full European integration (he was right of course!) and probably equally important to him that the common language of the European Union would not become English. (He no doubt does a full twist and summersault in his grave when Nigel Farage gets up to speak in Brussels.)

 It was not until 1973 that Ted Heath, the Queen’s fifth Prime Minister, took the UK into the Community after 4 years of bargaining over the interests of our Commonwealth which in the end came off second best to the Common Agricultural policy…still very much a bone of contention between France and anyone else who dares to hint of criticism. Harold Wilson, who both preceded and succeeded Heath, the only PM to have two separate spells at No 10 under our current monarch, declared in Labour’s election manifesto in October 1974 that he would renegotiate the terms of entry and hold a referendum to allow the voters to have their say on continued membership. The renegotiations in Dublin were, like the original negotiations under Heath, something of a fudge, but then the electorate were going to vote on them so it was “their problem”! And vote they did – 67% in favour on a 65% turnout – that’s very nearly a “proper” majority – well let’s just say that 44% of the population took a gamble which seemed like a good idea at the time.

 When the “Blessed Margaret” replaced Jim Callaghan in 1979, De Gaulle’s worst fears were confirmed and her “reign” was marked with a constant battle with the EU over Treaty terms; a baton she passed to John Major. In 1992 sterling left (was forced out of) the European Monetary union, a fore runner to the euro proper whose introduction was signalled in the Treaty of Maastricht signed in 1993. At those negotiations the word “Economic” was dropped from the EEC, the new body being simply called the European Community. All traces of economics were also surgically removed from the processes that resulted in the birth of the euro in 1999. The Maastricht euro convergence criteria, which included the budget deficit to GDP restriction of 3% and the ratio of debt to GDP cap at 60%, were blatantly “manipulated” by the Greeks, the Irish, the Portuguese, the Spanish and the Italians, amongst others, with allegedly “unforeseen” consequences.

 So as we wait with bated breath for the abdication….of the euro… our Queen’s image is still on our currency and long may it “reign” so. Lovely Jubbly Your Majesty!

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