A trillion here, a trillion there and pretty soon you're talking about real money.
Whenever the debate moves on to hard numbers - our deficit with Europe, our surplus with the rest of the world, our Brussels budget contributions, the tiny part of our economy dependent on sales to the EU, the vast part subjected to EU regulation - Euro-enthusiasts quickly shift their ground and start harrumphing about influence.
The 'Robben Island Bible' has arrived at the British Museum. It's a garish thing, its cover plastered with pink and gold Hindu images, designed to hide its contents. Within is the finest collection of words generated by human intelligence: the complete works of William Shakespeare.
On any measure, Spain's bank rescue has been a disaster. A hundred million euros have been added to the national debt, ten-year bonds are at a record high and the country's credit rating has been downgraded three notches.
New fathers, political prisoners, traumatised presidential aides, resolute schoolboys, MEPs addressing unfriendly chambers - we all find that Shakespeare has magically anticipated our precise circumstances. How he was possible, I still don't understand; but there isn't a day I'm not grateful that he speaks to me in my own language.
Political reporters no longer get to decide what's news. The days when a minister gave briefings to a dozen lobby correspondents, and thereby dictated the next day's headlines, are over. Now, a thousand bloggers decide for themselves what is interesting. If enough of them are tickled then, bingo, you're news.