Remember Giuliano ‘Tubs’ Ferrara? Obese man wobbling naked along a beach to rescue foetuses? Ex-communist, turned foot-servant/mouthpiece/toe-rag to Craxi (corrupt ex-PM, dead in luxurious Tunisian exile on the run from justice), then Berlusconi (currently rewriting the Italian judiciary system to avoid a similar fate), and now Ratzinger (I say no more). A man whose deepest instinct is to run to the support of the strong. His latest attention-seeking exploit is to ask people to leave bottles of water outside the hospital where a woman called Eluana Englaro has been lying in a vegetative state for the past 17 years. Her father has finally obtained permission to remove the tubes that have been providing the body of Eluana with food and water since a car accident in 1991. You’d have thought a little respect was due to a man prepared to fight for his daughter’s right to die (something she did – to all intents and purposes – almost two decades ago). But you’ve have reckoned without Ferrara. A man for whom one family’s tragedy is another’s photo-op.

Still, it looks as though Tubs – after his mind-boggling failure to win a seat in parliament – has just scored another resounding own goal. At the last count, and despite TV news coverage to the contrary, no more than a dozen bottles of water had been left at the hospital. And most of those were half-litres.

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