Actually the programme wasn't called 'Capital of Culture' until 1999. Earlier, it was named 'City of Culture' so great cities such as Florence and Glasgow could be included. I think some 58 cities have enjoyed the designation since it was initiated.
But of course such is the fame and universal recognition that the award brings that all of Europe celebrates each year the designated places, and one can ask any person on the street the two cities so designated in 2017. Or rather you can't. I suspect that only wonks know that Aarhus and Paphos are this year's cities. I haven't visited or seen pictures of either, but I know with utter certainty that both will be absolutely smothered in those ghastly blue speckly flags that signal the dominion of the EU.
It's actually quite a clever scam. The cities pay for it all themselves; all it costs the other taxpayers of the EU is a bit of publicity and boozy lunches for a commissioner or two. In return the EU gets its sovereignty proclaimed in every single city in Europe in turn. Utterly irrespective of merit. It's Italy's turn again in 2033 and if the failing, mafia-dominated crime ridden slums of Gela in Sicily, one of Europe's most dangerous, uncultured and unattractive conurbations, are chosen I would not be at all surprised.
Now they've kicked us out we ought to set up our own scheme - 'Partner City of Light' or some such, in which we pick one Euro city a year to host joint visits, artistic events, royal ballet show, talks arranged by the British Council, pictures from the national gallery sort of thing, sweetened with a bung of say £1m. In return we'd get one city a year smothered in Union flags to which we can introduce the wonders of Gregg's sausage rolls.
|Gela preparing for 2033 - the speckly flags will arrive later