Do you notice a wave of benignity and civic virtue sweeping over the European Union? Not just yet? Well you will soon, and I'll tell you why. Travel back with me in time a few days to Volterra in Tuscany, where Mrs. B is at the bar in the stand-up coffee shop, enjoying her daily pick-me-up. Chap with an American accent fetches up next to her.
The customer spills a small handful of change onto the bar and starts counting coins aloud.
--Uh, fifty. Seventy. One hundred. One Euro. No, ninety. Plus forty is.... Uh, I don't think...
Now Mrs. B, whose virtues include charity but not always patience, dips her fingers into her own stash of change and tops him off with 50p. The barman scoops up the whole spread and smilingly returns a receipt.
--Ah? Oh no, I can't...
--No problem. Buy somebody else a coffee.
--What? Oh. Sure. Thank you.
Does the phrase "butterfly effect" flutter into your mind? Anyway, you can see where this is going. That guy, who looked a lot like a Rotarian from Cincinnati, buys somebody else a coffee. Somebody else buys somebody else. Maybe somebody buys two and anyway pretty soon we've got what Arlo Guthrie calls a movement, a movement.
And any day now, the whole continent relaxes into easy understanding and all their problems are over. Either that or they all get so buzzed on coffee they can't do a thing.