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Brexit: The Fawlty Towers Connection Part 3 – The Germans Meet The Fire Drill

Image from the BBC comedy series Fawlty Towers
Image from the BBC comedy series Fawlty Towers

Fawlty Towers, Brexit, and EU dysfunction make for tear-drenched laughter

In Part 2 we saw a clip from The Fire Drill.

Here is the Fire Drill episode again, as explained by John Cleese, who reminds us that it’s the same episode as ‘The Germans.’

How does this relate to today? In a nutshell: Due to gross incompetence from both above and below a fire was started in the periphery of Europe at one point in time (see Spain-Greece etc) which caused panic among the union. The Brits, especially the English, panicked. With no clue on how to deal with the emergency, they scrambled to salvage the situation, collapsing in the process.

They bounced back, of course, but things were never quite the same after that. Something was lost, some much needed sanity and trust. But the clincher is the reason why all this happened. It happened on the backdrop of the Germans coming to town, which raised some old — and clearly not dead — issues, giving rise to a new blame game and endless shenanigans.

It would be funny if it weren’t true. Yes, there are scores of people in the real world who believe that the true origin of today’s European mess resides in WWII. While that’s a load of bollocks, one cannot deny the role the Germans are playing in the EU’s demise. Their approach over the past ten years has been high-handed and domineering, utterly impossible to work with. The German administration issues missives and directives like ultimate law, and damn the consequences.

In this Fawlty Towers episode the Germans are portrayed as average tourists who landed straight into buffoonery, paranoia, and a peculiar inferiority complex, making Basil (the English hotel manager) and Manuel (the Spanish employee) the butt of the joke. But if we were to draw a parallel between this episode and today’s Brexit madness — not to mention the EU’s gradual decomposition at large — the Germans would really be Sybil Fawlty (Basil’s wife) . . .

. . . a seemingly logical and level-headed person who, in reality, is ultimately infuriating, out of control, and impossible to work with.

As is, of course, Basil Fawlty himself, not to mention Manuel, to each their own.

The story gets even more interesting if you note that the reason why the hotel ended up in such a mess that day was because Sybil was away at the time, in the hospital.

So what’s going on here? Is Sybil the one who keeps the order and makes things work like clockwork?

Those who are familiar with the series know that this is hardly the case. Sybil is the kind of person whose presence AND absence are equally conducive to blowback, as are Basil’s and Manuel’s, to each their own.

It’s perfectly clear that these three characters, and whatever they represent, cannot and should not be partners in anything. They’re far better suited to compete with each other, as rival enterprises do, or trade around flexible alliances, at best, and then go back to their separate quarters — make that their separate enterprises and abodes where they can be themselves without bringing out the worst in each other. No, not migrate back whence they came, we do live in 21st century after all, just not partnered up on the international, political, fiscal level, lest they destroy each other.

Divorce is a blessed, blessed function when used wisely, and so is the termination of any toxic partnership. It hurts at first, but it’s oh, so bloody good down the line.

The conclusion is clear. Our main characters must split up, for their sake as well as everyone else’s. Until they do, the old arguments will perpetuate themselves, with old conflicts rekindling and flaring, and Europe will continue to dance to the beat of its absurd quarrels, taking everyone with it.


From your flip-side Spin Doctor,

Eyes open, mind sharp.