I am obliged to 'my man in Moscow' - er, no, no, please, no names, discretion, old boy, toujours la discrétion! Let's just say he's a friend currently living in Moscow - poor bugger! - who passed on this vital piece of financial intelligence:
"The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed, lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work instead of living on public assistance."
And no, those are not the latest words from the Italian Finance Minister because, well, as it happens, Italy does not yet have a Finance Minister. These words are somewhat older, in fact, truth be told, 'my Man in Moscow' is a bit out of date with his intelligence reports these days but, as I told the PM the other day, what else do you expect with all these bloody cuts! Anyway, the author of those prescient words was, er, well, Cicero in 55BC, actually. 'Not a lotta people know that'!