It was two days of wine, women, Greeks and IMPs for the leaders of the 10 nations of the European Community who held one of their regular summit meetings here last week.
Within that odd mixture, it was probably the woman -- British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher -- who most enjoyed herself, for it was the first time in a long while that Britain's "Iron Lady" was not the villain of the piece.
That role was played by Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou.
With impeccable timing, he waited until all the leaders had finally settled months of wrangling about how to reduce the community's enormous "lake" of surplus table wine -- a settlement that had to be reached before Spain and Portugal, two more big wine producers, could be admitted to the group, shoring up two relatively new democracies and helping to keep a tottering Spanish membership in NATO intact.
Then Papandreou, to a chorus of epithets from his colleagues behind the closed summit doors, announced that he was reserving the right to veto Spain and Portugal's entry unless the community came forward in the next five years with about $5 billion in previously discussed aid for the so-called Integrated Mediterranean Programs, or IMPs. This would help the poorer countries of the region, and Greece would be a major beneficiary.
BEHIND THE SCENES, Thatcher is said to have renamed IMPs as SHRIMPs, for Substantially Reduced IMPs. Later, in Parliament, Thatcher said it would be "utterly disgraceful" if Papandreou actually blocked entry of the two countries. But Roy Jenkins, a leader of the opposition Social Democrats, said that Papandreou had only become Thatcher's "most apt pupil in unilateral intransigence."
Indeed, the last time the leaders met here, in 1979, it was Thatcher's simple, unending refrain, "We want our own money back," that touched off a five-year budget row between Britain and the rest of the community.
"By this forceful claim, endlessly repeated, she has managed for years to confound all discussion of the community budget and, in significant ways, to undermine the system we are trying to build," the community's Irish commissioner, Richard Burke, wrote in The Irish Times on Tuesday.
Thatcher's persistence paid off earlier this year when she won a big budget rebate and a pledge to reform the budget process. And most diplomats think Papandreou also will benefit.
Thatcher seemed to be enjoying no longer being the heavy. This so-called "wine summit," which, The Wall Street Journal reported, also had been dubbed "the wrath of grapes" because of the seemingly unending battle over the 30 billion-liter "lake" of surplus wine, was not a British fight. Thatcher even wore what her quick-witted press secretary Bernard Ingham described as a "claret" dress for the occasion.
Ever since a bomb planted by the Irish Republican Army came close to killing Thatcher and much of her Cabinet in October, she has been the most heavily guarded leader in Western Europe. Like a medieval princess locked in a moated castle, Thatcher spent the summit in an apartment in the 600-year-old Dublin castle meeting site, surrounded by thousands of blue-coated Irish police, with the streets sealed off in all directions.