The sheer will to live is an incredibly powerful force. Working in a slaughterhouse, I have seen a full-grown bullock dropped with a stunning pistol – not a misfire – and, confounding everything it says in the textbooks, struggle to its feet.
It was that which came to mind as I watched the press conference last night, when Juncker and Barroso faced the media in the aftermath of the Council's decision to take a "pause for reflection" on the constitution.
Juncker first confirmed that the members of the Council believed the ratification process should continue, but that there should be a pause, given the French and Dutch rejection of the treaty. But there will be no renegotiation of the constitution, he said.
"We believe that the constitutional treaty has the answers to many questions that Europeans are asking, so we believe the ratification process must continue," he added. "In the all the countries, all those who have ratified, and those who are still to ratify there should be a period of reflection". The ones that were committed to a referendum, he said, simply needed a little more time to have a dialogue with their citizens.
Then came Barroso. "Europe is not going to stop," he declared. "We're going on acting… we're going to debate." And just to emphasise his sincerity, his determination, he repeated: "We're not going to stop… we have a plan." Just for a moment, the vision of the mortally wounded bullock departed, to be replaced by Baldrick: "I have a cunning plan…".
Then said Barroso: "We affirmed that there is no alternative to this constitution. No one suggested that we should renegotiate [it]."
The vision of the bullock returned, and with it the memory of the slaughterman putting a second shot in its head, the beast dropping for the second and final time.