A Nice Mess in Nice

LONDON: A hundred years ago, the humorous English magazine Punch carried a cartoon which depicted a young and nervous curate eating breakfast with his bishop. He was eating a boiled egg, and clearly not enjoying it. The bishop enquired: “I say - is your egg all right?” And the curate replies: “My Lord, it is excellent in parts.”

The cartoon caught the English fancy, and created a catch-phrase still in use today, although it is usually misunderstood and misused. Someone may say: “It’s a bit of a curate’s egg”, when he means that something is a mixture of good and bad. But of course the point of the original joke was that the curate was just being polite: an egg is either good or bad, and his was bad.

This week’s European Summit at Nice (December 7-9) looks like being a curate’s egg. The question is, will it be bad all through and a failure? Or will it be “excellent in parts”? The probable answer is: both. It will almost certainly fail to achieve its immediate objectives; but it may open the door to serious progress afterwards.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To read this article from our archive, please log in or register now. After entering your email, you'll have access to two free articles from our archive every month. For unlimited access to Project Syndicate, subscribe now.

required

By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in

http://prosyn.org/2DZ6mTw;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.