In Northern Europe even chickens are game

I’m always fascinated with modernity’s knack at turning yesterday’s certitudes into today’s laughingstocks.

Conversely, practices regarded as mortal sins when our fathers were young are now described as perfectly valid ‘lifestyle choices’.

Moreover, one can hear all sorts of seemingly logical arguments supporting this shift and also defending each particular ‘choice’.

Homosexuality is one obvious example, though in that area advocates of modernity tend to be somewhat less logical than in some others.

On the one hand, they insist that homosexuality is a ‘lifestyle choice’, meaning that a bugger can be a chooser by opting to go one way or the other.

On the other hand, they maintain that there’s really no choice on offer: the ‘lifestyle’ is physiologically predetermined. Some people are born straight, some aren’t, and that’s all there is to it.

However, with the thin end of the wedge driven in to the hilt, logic returns to reclaim its place among rhetorical tools. Once we reject any absolute moral authority and accept that there’s no moral difference among various sex acts, an argument even for same-sex marriage becomes possible.

I’ve even heard self-proclaimed conservatives argue that married homosexuals are conservative people expressing their commitment to this core institution of our society.

My stock response is that they may be conservative, but a society that allows this abomination certainly isn’t. Then I tend to ask provocative, and typically conversation-ending, questions about where they are willing to stop.

First homosexual acts are decriminalised, then same-sex marriage is made legal. Now what about sex between siblings? Parents and children? Animals? These are all fairly popular ‘lifestyle choices’ too, and surely all the same arguments can be used to defend them.

What’s wrong with incest, lovingly called le cinéma des pauvres in rural France? Genetic risks to producing children? But then the spouses can choose to remain childless. The legalisation of homomarriage has already divorced nuptials from procreation, so what’s the problem?

Moreover, a marriage between a brother and sister may be less likely to end in divorce than a union of genetic strangers. After all, the siblings (or parents and children for that matter) have always loved each other anyway. 

One can sense that many other ‘lifestyle choices’ are bound to follow the same path from legalised acts to legalised matrimony. And one can congratulate our partners in the northern reaches of the EU on having made the first step.

Sex with animals is already legal in Denmark, Norway and Germany “as long as no one gets hurt”.

Never having ventured outside the female half of our own species, I don’t know whether some animals may find the act itself ipso facto painful.

One suspects that, for as long as their feeling aren’t hurt, and no S&M is involved, horses, sheep or large dogs may accommodate a man painlessly. I’m not so sure about chickens or cats, and I’m not inquisitive enough to want to find out.

But those who are can satisfy their curiosity by travelling to, say, Denmark or Germany. In those countries not only is bestiality legal but so are a rapidly expanding chain of animal brothels and ‘erotic zoos’, with such animals as goats and llamas catering to the intimate needs of human customers.

Presumably, health and safety being of paramount importance, customers are warned against using, say, jackals or pumas for oral sex, but let’s not go into detail.

However, defying logic yet again, the same countries ban animal pornography. Doing it is all right, looking at the pictures of others doing it isn’t. Those chaps do draw the line in some funny places, but who are we to argue against modernity?

There is evidence that sexually abused sheep and other livestock tend to shy away from human contact, but such reports come from farms where bestiality is secretive, chaotic and unsupervised.

Though surreptitious bestiality may do wonders for the local economy, mainly by boosting the sales of Wellington boots, it’s crude and must therefore be discouraged.

It’s conceivable though that a bestiality bordello or an ‘erotic zoo’ may create an environment where zoophilia is elevated or, in the case of chickens, lowered to a fine art. Again, I’m not sure I wish to explore this area at greater depth.

One way or the other, the professional bestiality industry is facing stiff amateur and semi-amateur competition. Certain publications in Scandinavia and Germany are full of private ads run by owners pimping their pets and livestock.

A parallel with human prostitution is crying out to be drawn. There too one observes various levels of organisation, from university girls discreetly turning a few tricks to pay their tuition to independent pimps running a girl or two to industrialised bordellos. And they all lose out to women who undermine corporate solidarity by doing all the same things free of charge.

Predictably, as opposition to this new industry is waning, its advocacy is strengthening. The term ‘lifestyle choice’, translated into German and various Scandinavian languages, is being used as widely as ever.   

The German Bundestag has meekly mooted some changes to the national Animal Protection Code, to which the robust response was anything but meek.

German ‘zoophile’ group ZETA has announced that any attempt to outlaw bestiality would run into a stiff legal challenge. “Mere concepts of morality have no business being law,” explained ZETA chairman Michael Kiok.

Myself unable to think in such cosmic categories, I’ll leave you to ponder the extent to which that one sentence overturns the last 2,000 years of legal history.

Meanwhile, people from all over Europe are flocking (no pun intended) to the German and Scandinavian bestiality bordellos. One wonders if this is the kind of free economic interaction that the founders of the EU had in mind.

The power of sex is now deliberately destructive

Power, said Henry Kissinger, is the ultimate aphrodisiac.

The phrasing was original; the thought behind it wasn’t. Any reader of Greek tragedies circa 400 BC knows that the link between power and sex wasn’t first established in the USA during the Nixon administration.

Men and women of power attract the opposite sex like a magnet held above scattered needles.

It could even perhaps be argued, or certainly observed, that a strong libido typically accompanies a strong lust for power.

One way or the other, most people will agree that power increases one’s sexual opportunities. However, fewer people may notice that the reverse is also true: sex can be used as a way of gaining power.

I don’t mean this in the most obvious way, for even a cursory familiarity with history will make one aware of the numerous favourites of assorted rulers who rose to power through sex. Some of them, such as Manuel Godoy of Spain or Grigory Potemkin of Russia, ended up as de facto rulers themselves.

Yet the West is no longer ruled by kings and queens who could reward the amorous ardour of their lovers by transferring some of their royal power into the favourites’ hands.

Mechanisms of power in our so-called democracies are less straightforward, and at first glance one may get the impression that sex can now only destroy power, not create it.

A jilted lover of a married politician may create a scandal putting paid to the career of a president or prime minister. But the power lost thereby won’t pass on to the lover – it’ll be inherited by another president or prime minister.

In modern democracies the war for power is fought on a much wider battlefield, that of the whole civilisation, not just the proverbial corridors. For today’s power seekers are all vultures feasting on the remains of a great civilisation where the likes of them would never have risen so high.

Thus uprooting whatever is left of that civilisation is a necessary precondition for their power, but it’s not a sufficient one. They must also spray the once fertile soil with coarse-grain salt to kill fertility for ever.


A civilisation can only be defeated by splitting it up: a house divided against itself shall not stand. Divide et impera is the secular expression of the same principle, and it lies at the heart of our post-Christian modernity.

I believe it was brought to life primarily by a rebellion against Christianity or, more broadly, God. The target wasn’t just the religion itself but also the civilisation it had produced. Ortega y Gasset described this tectonic shift brilliantly, if only in a limited, secular way, in his Revolt of the Masses.

The wave of the revolt carried on its crest a new elite made up mostly of mediocrities endowed with an inordinate strength of animal instincts. They sensed that for the elite to live, tradition had to die – vultures need a corpse to get their sustenance.

Thus today we can see how everything that even remotely smacks of tradition has to be mocked, compromised and, ideally, destroyed.

This wicked animus can be seen at work in every aspect of our lives, be it culture, law, politics and of course social cohesion. Its traditional cornerstone is the relationship between men and women, sanctified by the marriage ritual and amply covered in both Testaments. Hence it has to be debauched.

For the new elite to conquer, the sexes have to be divided – their relationship must be portrayed as fundamentally hostile. Hence the ever-growing profusion of stories supposedly proving the existence of this putative hostility.

Suddenly rape stories begin to claim front-page space, new notions like ‘date rape’ and ‘marriage rape’ become common fare, sex abuse in the workplace becomes a major topic, some behaviour that in the past was considered tasteless gets to be treated as criminal, even marital sex is equated with rape, marriage is no longer seen as the exclusive union between a man and a woman.

History, appropriately falsified, is co-opted for this purpose as well. The 2,000 years of the greatest civilisation the world has ever known are routinely depicted as a catalogue of abuses against women (or, as a more piquant version, children).

Rather than venerated as the driving force of our civilisation they have always been, women are seen as its victims. Their role in mitigating the testosteronal savagery of their men is both misunderstood and ignored, as is their vital contribution to running schools, hospitals, hospices – and indeed their households while their husbands were off fighting wars.

It’s thanks largely to women that our civilisation lasted as long as it did. For it was mainly women who imbued their offspring with both the spirit animating Christendom and the culture springing from it.

Women were able to play such a sublime role by complementing their men, not fighting against them. Rather than striving to be like men, they were superior to them in many of the qualities and achievements without which our civilisation would not have been possible.

All this is being ignored: common sense and basic knowledge have fallen victim in the wars of modernity. Instead we’re fed actuarial calculations of how few women had full-time employment at various points in history – as if the drudgery of most eight-to-five jobs automatically elevates their holders to a high perch of self-esteem or social value.

We live in the midst of a great revolution, and all such upheavals have an accelerator built in. They are like a snowball that rolls down the slope, gathering size and momentum as it goes on.

So be prepared for more and more rape stories lovingly presented in every lurid detail. Our powers that be will spare no effort to escalate the sex war they themselves first imagined and then tried to make real.

The impression that we’re in the grip of a worldwide pandemic of rape and child abuse will be reinforced with every screaming front-page headline. The din will become deafening, but we may not become deaf to it before it’s too late.



How I became a sex offender

The neighbourhood girl, whose name I don’t recall, fought hard, but I was stronger.

After a minute or so of desperate struggle I overcame her resistance and planted a kiss on her lips. I might have even felt her up, but I can’t remember that far back.

You see, the incident happened over half a century ago, when both the criminal (I) and the victim (she) were 12 years old. Afterwards, she called me a moron and refused to play with me ever again. I forget how long her resolution lasted.

Do you suppose I can be jailed for that solitary sex offence of my life? There are reasons to answer this question both in the positive and the negative.

First, it seems to be the season for so-called ‘historical sex offences’. The message is loud and clear: bygones will never be bygones.

Time may heal all wounds, except those of someone made love to, or even snogged, without permission. That particular wound remains open for life and so does the mental file on the crime.

The case may be revived when the time is right, which is usually when a) the offender becomes rich and famous, b) the climate of public opinion seems to be conducive to prosecution or c) ideally the confluence of the two.

Such subjective factors overlap with objectives ones for, unlike some other countries in Europe and North America, Britain has no statute of limitations for sex crimes.

This puts even nonagenarians at risk for their naughtiness during a Battle of Britain blackout, and a mere sexagenarian like me could definitely be in trouble (the ‘sex’ bit in this word refers to 60, not to the nature of the crime in question).

On the other hand, since my crime was committed in a Moscow courtyard, I’m not sure it could be prosecuted in a British court. Then of course the incident didn’t go beyond a clumsy peck, and there’s a distinct possibility that the victim has forgotten about it or, even if she hasn’t, isn’t feeling vindictive. She certainly seemed relaxed about it the next day.

It’s also unlikely that she now lives in Britain. Most important, since I’m neither rich nor famous, she wouldn’t have much to gain even if all those prohibitive odds were bucked.

Since it was just a kiss, she probably would be denied the satisfaction of seeing me behind bars. And a civil suit, even if successful, wouldn’t be worth the trouble.

All things considered, I can sleep well at night, which is more than can be said for Lord Brittan, who was yesterday questioned by the police for a rape he allegedly committed in 1967.

The reports aren’t saying why the woman, who was 19 at the time, had to wait until now to file charges.

That leaves room for guesses, such as that she had been trying for decades to recover from the trauma until finally realising, at age 66, that she couldn’t. After all, women are brainwashed to insist (and the rest of us to accept) that rape is the worst thing that can happen to them, that they’d rather be killed or crippled than raped.

At the same time a Labour peer, who hasn’t so far been named, is being investigated for having allegedly raped 12 boys over several decades. Eschewing facetious remarks, along the lines of ‘at least the Tory likes girls’ or ‘it takes two to tango’, one still wonders why the crimes have gone unreported until now.

In all such instances any half-competent barrister would have advised the victims to act immediately. In the absence of hard physical evidence, rape cases are notoriously hard to prosecute anyway, even if tried immediately after the event.

How it’s possible even to consider bringing up charges decades after the fact escapes me altogether. A woman on the cusp of old age says Mr Brittan (as he then was) raped her 47 years ago. Presumably, unless Lord Brittan (as he now is) really is guilty and can’t live with himself unless he confesses, he says he didn’t.

It’s her word against his, and the only reason criminal charges, or indeed an investigation, could even be considered is if, by some odd twist of today’s jurisprudence, her word counts for more than his.

Surely that can’t be the case? Please tell me that we’re still all equal before the law; that by being born a man and even becoming a toff a person doesn’t thereby relinquish his right to fair trial, be it by a jury or media. Please, for old times’ sake?

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean to trivialise sex offences in general and rape in particular, even though I wasn’t entirely serious when describing my own experience.

However, these days one can’t open a newspaper without reading yet another account of yet another famous old man being charged with sex crimes committed when God was young.

One is tempted to think that the ancient principle of proof beyond reasonable doubt isn’t applied in such cases as rigorously as in some others. And is there a chain reaction of accusations?

A woman claims she was mistreated, which gets the bandwagon rolling. Suddenly a platoon of victims appear out of nowhere, all anxious to jump on. The bandwagon becomes unstoppable.

This isn’t to deny that the posthumous reviling of, say, Jimmy Saville isn’t richly deserved. The man was obvious scum and, unless I sat on the jury, I’d find one look at his face to be sufficient forensic evidence to that effect.

But out of the dozens of cases receiving huge publicity in the last few months, could there have been some that were blown out of proportion? Where guilt was established, claimed or reported on flimsy evidence? There had to be, which raises some uncomfortable questions.

Question 1: Do some people in a position of influence have a vested interest in alienating the sexes? Question 2: Are our courts becoming an arena for class war? Question 3: Have we become vultures getting sustenance out of the corpses of ruined reputations? Question 4: Have our newspapers lost whatever notion of responsibility they’ve ever had?

Actually, the questions aren’t overly uncomfortable. But, one suspects, the answers would be.























Black Pete and the double Dutch of racism

St Nicholas is a black-hating racist and so are 92 per cent of the Dutch, rules Amsterdam’s court.

Since only 80 per cent of the Dutch are white, it follows that many of the country’s black people must hate themselves. One can just see them doing a John Terry impersonation in front of the mirror: “What you looking at, you [expletive deleted] black [expletive deleted]?”

The variously coloured Dutch have found themselves in the dock on account of a tradition going back to the mid-nineteenth century.

In late autumn and early winter the Dutch celebrate the St Nicholas (Sinterklaas) festival culminating on 5 December. St Nicholas arrives by steamboat accompanied by his trusted sidekick Black Pete (Zwarte Piet), or rather hundreds of them crowding the flotilla following the saint’s vessel.

St Nicholas then rewards good children with sweets and makes naughty children promise they’ll be good from now on. He thus does in Amsterdam what his doppelgangers do all over the world at roughly the same time.

Father Christmas in Britain, Ded Moroz in Russia, Père Noël in France, Santa Claus in the States all administer the same incentive programme, immortalised in the 1934 American song:

He’s making a list,

Checking it twice;

Gonna find out who’s naughty or nice.

Santa Claus is coming to town…

Like their counterparts in other countries, Dutch children look forward to the event, and so do the grown-ups. This colourful, exuberant festival is rightly seen as the highlight of the year.

People big and small laugh, shout and applaud when St Nicholas disembarks, mounts a white horse and rides through the streets accompanied by a gaggle of Black Petes handing out sweets and biscuits.

There is a snag though, or at least that’s how an Amsterdam court, prodded by the United Nations Human Rights Council, ruled last Thursday.

You see, Black Pete is traditionally portrayed by a white man sporting blackface makeup, thick red lips and a frizzy Afro hairstyle. Moreover, he plays second fiddle to the offensively white saint, thereby evoking memories of slavery, the colonial past and global oppression of black people.

St Nicholas is therefore a racist swine, as are all those millions anticipating the joyous celebrations. Collectively they, according to the court ruling, promote “a negative stereotype of black people”.

This is tantamount to racism, the greatest cardinal sin of our time, and one that can be neither expiated nor redeemed. 

The good denizens of Amsterdam must therefore either ban the festival or at least rethink its props. One suggestion is to paint Black Pete some other colour, the rainbow spectrum being the court’s preference.

Now, just as Black Pete’s makeup symbolises something, so do the rainbow colours. Stylistic integrity would therefore dictate that the character should change his name accordingly. For example, Pete the P… sorry, I was about to make a facetiously alliterative suggestion that would have exposed me to the charge of homophobia, the second-greatest cardinal sin of our time.

The Dutch are used to their country being used as a pan-European test lab of neo-fascism going by the name of political correctness. Usually they shrug their shoulders and move on, but this time the people are up in arms.

Over 90 per cent of them insist that Black Pete is an innocent figure of fun meaning no insult. On the contrary, he’s kind, generous and much loved.

Even the country’s liberal prime minister Mark Rutte sided with tradition: “Black Pete is black. There’s not much I can do to change that.” This just goes to show he doesn’t understand the true meaning of liberalism.

Nothing you can do, Mr Rutte? Well, for a start, unplug your ears and listen to what the court ruled: “many black Amsterdammers felt discriminated against”.

True, they hadn’t felt offended until the UN told them they must, but that doesn’t change the fact now enshrined in judicial ruling. And true, the numbers point in a different direction: 92 per cent don’t perceive Zwarte Piet as racist or associate him with slavery; 91 per cent are opposed to changing his appearance.

But numbers, Mr Rutte, don’t change the principle. They don’t alter the deep philosophical meaning of today’s democracy.

The word does mean ‘the rule of the people’, but it’s up to international bodies and their local Quislings to decide which people should rule. That’s what real democracy is all about.

Once the ruling demos has been appointed, its task is to make sure everyone marches in step. There are many tricks to be used for this purpose, and one of them is ordering people to be offended at something that in reality offends no one but the ruling demos.

Whatever causes the mandated offence must then be eliminated in the name of progress. After all, what is progress if not learning new things and improving ourselves accordingly?

We’ve learned something vital since the nineteenth century: morality is what we say it is, not what it has been for millennia. So, Mr Rutte, you’d better bloody well do something about it if you want to remain within the ruling demos.

I hope the Dutch won’t lose their beloved festival, but I fear they will. The march of progress is unstoppable.

The EU anthem: a song without words

I have a weak spot for anthems, a sentiment only partly springing from aesthetic appreciation.

Mainly I value them for the insights they provide to the nation’s heart – an anthem is truly a nation’s ECG.

That’s why it was with a mixture of enthusiasm and regret that I viewed this video:

The clip shows soldiers of the skeleton European army, known in some quarters as the Eurokorps, goose-stepping and then saluting the EU flag as it’s being raised in front of the European parliament in Strasbourg.

The stamping sound of boots on tarmac is harmonised with the EU anthem, otherwise known as the choral finale of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

Though in my harsher moods I’ve been known to describe this particular movement as musical demagoguery, at least it was written by a composer eminently capable of better things.

Beethoven was also German, which provides one of those insights I cherish. Therefore his Ode to Joy, as the movement is popularly called, was a good choice at the time.

Though it may not be my favourite piece of music, it’s still miles (or rather kilometres, to stay in the European idiom) better than, say, the Horst-Wessel-Lied that otherwise could also have laid a claim to being the appropriate EU anthem.

Alas, that song had the kind of lyrics that some may still find offensive, such as ‘millions are looking upon the swastika full of hope’ (Es schau’n aufs Hakenkreuz voll Hoffnung schon Millionen in the original).

In deference to those who won’t let bygones be bygones, Horst Wessel would have to be sung with no words at all, or else have them slightly modified to reflect the post-war face of Europe.

Then again, The Ode to Joy has no lyrics either, at least none custom-composed to fit the march of European progress. By itself this isn’t an insurmountable problem: some national anthems have happily survived without words for a while.

For example, the Soviet anthem adopted in 1944 contained words like ‘We were raised by Stalin’ (nas vyrastil Stalin in the original) that a dozen years later became unfashionable. Until new lyrics were composed, the rousing tune went unsullied by verbal impurities, and Muscovites indeed referred to it as a ‘song without words’.

Upon the advent of perestroika, the tune too was discarded until mercifully reinstated by Putin, this time with words referring to Russia’s imperial rather than communist aspect. In a way, the Stalin-specific stanzas used to merge the two, so, for the sake of truth in advertising if nothing else, one hopes they’ll come back soon.

Deutschland, Deutschland über alles, which did such good service in Germany until 1945, also had to stay wordless thereafter, for as long as it took to give the lyrics a more multicultural, less ethnocentric sheen.

Such illustrious examples notwithstanding, I still regret the absence of real lyrics in the EU national anthem. You may object that Europe isn’t yet a single nation, which is why it doesn’t quite rate its own song.

Fair enough, but let’s not get stuck on technicalities. The EU already has its own flag and, as you can see, its own army. Thus denying it its own anthem is downright churlish, and this is the last thing we want to be.

In anticipation of the time when such annoying technical glitches have been ironed out, I’ve taken it upon myself to compose the official anthem of the single European state. My task, as I see it, is to reflect the true nature of the embryonic nation, but without sacrificing continuity with its glorious history.

Regrettably, while I have some modest ability to string rhymed words together, my talent at musical composition is nonexistent. Therefore I too have to borrow an existing tune, which is after all what the authors of the current German and Russian anthems have done.

False modesty aside, I have demonstrable work experience. For I’ve used a similar fusion of new lyrics and an old melody in the anthem I’ve proposed for the emerging Palestinian state: “Yasser that’s my baby, Nasser don’t mean maybe, Yasser that’s my baby now!”

Though the anthem hasn’t yet been adopted, I still regard my first foray into the genre as a solid base on which to build.

In that spirit, and given the tasks I’ve set myself, I’ve started work on the real EU song, provisionally entitled Schön Europa über alles, über alles in der Welt.

Appropriately both the words and the music have to be German. In this instance the latter was composed by Joseph Haydn who was actually Austrian, but that’s near enough.

I think that the middle movement of his ‘Kaiser’ Quartet, Op. 76 No. 3, is better music than the finale of Beethoven’s Ninth, or at least better for the occasion.

It has a certain contemplative quality that, as the music’s previous service as a national anthem proves, can easily segue into a crescendo leading to a paroxysm of patriotic spirit.

Another tune I’ve considered comes from the French anthem La Marseillaise written in 1792. The tune has three obvious advantages: 1) it was written when a new French state was also in its embryonic stage, 2) it’s suitably revolutionary and blood-thirsty, 3) by one of those serendipities that are easy to interpret as divine benevolence, it was composed in Strasbourg.

However, these are cancelled out by the two obvious disadvantages: the tune was written when France was fighting Germany rather than acting as her sidekick and, most important, it’s not German.

So Haydn it is, and I’m pressing on with my work on the lyrics. Unfortunately, since my German isn’t quite up to the task, I’ll have to write in English. Can anyone recommend a German translator, one who can do justice to the main thrust of my effort?






Get thee hence, Satan, says the House of Bishops

According to the Anglican clergy, the rejection of Satan, first described in the fictional work known as the Bible, is now complete.

Proving that the papists aren’t the only ones who can use progressive marketing techniques, the C of E has researched its new brand positioning in a wide poll of Anglican clergy.

Queried with the use of an up-to-date testing methodology, the statistically significant sample provided valuable insights into the baptismal ceremony, which for the last 2,000 years has been seen as the USP (Unique Selling Proposition, for the Martians among you) of the Christian brand.

The results of the survey having now been tabulated, a new marketing strategy has been devised in accordance with the findings. The House of Bishops (henceforth to be known as the Board of Directors) has come out strongly in favour of the repositioning and repackaging of the brand.

The anecdotal evidence from the clerical focus groups shows that the subjects favour “a simplified baptism which omits mention of the devil”. The old wording, they feel, damages the brand value of Christianity by “putting off people who are offended to be addressed as sinners.”

The test sample has suggested a simpler, non-judgemental pitch, promising only that we “shall do all that we can to ensure that there is a welcoming place for you.” This repositioning strategy will enhance the brand’s sales potential by enabling the Church to compete for a share in the markets currently dominated by pubs, hotels, strip shows, community clubs, casinos, restaurants and massage parlours.

Although no comments to that effect have been made, the Church clearly envisages further brand-specific activities aimed at re-establishing its role as market leader. Though the time for taking subsequent steps hasn’t arrived yet, the marketing logic dictates additional embellishments.

The strategy practically writes itself. Now that the obsolete notions of Satan and sin are about to be abolished, the matter of salvation comes into sharp focus. Salvation from what exactly? Since there is no Satan and no sin, what are those newborn babes to be saved from?

Such questions could present a problem to anyone unfamiliar with state-of-the-art marketing, but any MBA worth his/her/its salt knows how to turn a negative into a positive. In every crisis there is an opportunity gagging to be seized and ravished.

All it takes is some radical thinking unhindered by any unwanted baggage. Persons endowed with the mental faculties to think in this innovative way will be unafraid to offer groundbreaking solutions. To wit: if salvation has sunk into obsolescence, the term must follow ‘sin’ into oblivion.

It logically follows that the Christ-centred marketing strategy has outlived its usefulness, as senior Church figures have been intimating for decades. Since no sin exists, and hence no salvation is necessary, the figure of a saviour becomes redundant.

For the sake of continuity in the brand personality of so-called Christianity, the fictional presence of Jesus Christ, though downgraded, will still have to be preserved. Jesus will take his place next to Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius and Karl Marx as a teacher of a new all-inclusive, all-permitting morality free of such outdated concepts as sin, original or otherwise.

In parallel with school tests, now designed to guarantee top marks for all participants, the new morality will enable every parishioner to feel like the paragon of virtue regardless of his/her/its misdeeds. There are no bad men… sorry, persons. There are only bad societies, those that renege on enforcing the ultimate, nay only, virtue: all-inclusiveness.

Lord Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, embodies this virtue in his own person, and one can only lament his absence from the forefront of the current marketing effort.

When still the principal prelate of Anglicanism, by way of job-sharing His Grace also acted in the capacity of chief Druid. Now that he has some spare time on his hands, Lord Williams has been inspired by Buddhism to spend 40 minutes meditating every day. Though his celebrating the black mass hasn’t yet been reported, His Grace is clearly in tune with the new direction taken by the church he once led.

By endorsing the new strategy, the Board of Directors (formerly the House of Bishops) takes another step along the road brightly lit by modern marketing techniques. Now members of the Satanist community will no longer suffer ecclesiastical exclusion: no longer will the founder of their faith be disparaged or indeed mentioned in the baptismal ceremony.

Therein lies the social significance of the new strategy, happily coexisting with the commercial opportunities. By excluding Satan and thus potentially including his followers, the Church strikes an important blow for equality and religious freedom.

Displaying enviable foresight, the Board of Directors (formerly the House of Bishops) has courageously abandoned the strategy that once made Christianity the brand leader. The Board is thus serving not the parochial interests of the so-called Christians but the community at large.

Though the strapline encapsulating the new strategy is yet to be finalised, the current frontrunner is ‘Vade retro, Jesus’. If the dollar bill can have a Latin slogan, why can’t the Church?









Who will lift the veil off the European Court?

The good news is that the European Court of Human Rights has upheld France’s 2010 ban on wearing the niqab in public.

The bad news is that it did so in the name of secularism, which is guaranteed to rebound on the symbols of other religions as well.

The niqab is a religious statement, but then so are the cross and the yarmulke. If we ban one, we must ban them all – aren’t all religions equal? Equally offensive, that is? 

The Court explained its rulings in the federalese cant that, though it uses many English words, is somewhat lacking in the forthrightness one expects from the language of Shakespeare: 

“The Court was also able to understand the view that individuals might not wish to see, in places open to all, practices or attitudes which would fundamentally call into question the possibility of open interpersonal relationships, which, by virtue of an established consensus, formed an indispensable element of community life within the society in question.”

Nice, isn’t it? I’ve often volunteered my translating services, but this sentence has enough stumbling blocks for any translator to fall flat on his face. At a guess though, the idea is that ‘interpersonal relationships’ are impossible if one can’t see the other person’s face.

Really? Tell that to the world’s billions of texters, tweeters and users of on-line dating services.

And what about people covering their faces for purely secular reasons, such as extreme cold? Back where I come from, whenever the temperature headed towards 30 below, not only women but also men wrapped their faces in heavy scarves to save their noses from otherwise certain frostbite.

(Such temperatures aren’t the unique property of Russia: they are familiar to France’s Alpine regions as well.)

This in no way curtailed ‘interpersonal relationships’ or prevented them from becoming downright flirtatious. There was an implicit element of surprise there, for trying to chat up a woman whose face one couldn’t see was in a way bidding for a pig in a poke…

Forget I said that. First, this inelegant idiom is disrespectful of women. Second, on pain of having one’s throat slit, one can’t have porcine allusions when broaching an Islamic subject, however tangentially.

The main point remains though: secular reasoning fails as miserably in this case as it does in so many others. Had I drafted the Court ruling, rather than merely trying to decipher it, the wording would have been different:

“The niqab symbolises an aggressive ideology openly proclaiming its hatred of the West in general and its founding religion in particular. As such, this garment is offensive not only to the practitioners of Christianity but also to all Westerners (even the French, with their laïcité) who recognise its significance. Therefore the niqab shall not be worn publicly in any country whose religious, cultural, social and political roots are Christian.”

If the EU begat a judiciary able to express such a sentiment in its rulings, I’d reassess my feelings about European federalism, which at present oscillate between loathing and disgust. However, I don’t think there’s much danger of that.

And speaking of danger, the original anti-niqab law was passed during Sarkozy’s presidency. This was one of only two things Sarko could chalk up in the plus column, the other one being that he’s not Hollande.

Many in France see him as a realistic candidate to replace my friend François in the next election or, if Hollande keeps steering the country towards perdition with the same firm hand, even before it. Alas, Sarko instead seems to be a candidate for a tenner in prison.

Arrested two days ago, he is now mis en examen on allegations that he used his power in an attempt to find out information about legal proceedings against him. Of these there were quite a few for Sarko had six court cases pending against him at the same time.

The French legal term mis en examen means under official investigation. Since the closest British equivalent is being charged with a crime, Sarko is upholding the country’s fine political tradition.

Of his recent predecessors, Chirac was not only charged with corruption but actually convicted, and Mitterrand should have taken the drop for all sorts of things, of which corruption would have been the most innocuous.

In the old days, Sarkozy could have slipped out of the country by donning the niqab and passing for a Muslim woman. It’s a tragic paradox that his own law, now upheld by the European Court, makes such an escape impossible.





Juncker and Dave: peace at last

It always pains me to see two of my friends fall out with each other, as Jean-Claude and Dave did.

So much more gratifying it is then to see them patch up their differences. Now Jean-Claude (or Junk, as he likes his friends to call him) has been confirmed as president of the EU Commission, Dave has apologised for the harsh words he uttered in the distant and long-forgotten past. Three days ago, to be exact.

“I can do business with Junk,” he said to me when we popped out for our customary drink at Chez Kevin. “All those things I’m reported to have said about him? First, I didn’t say them. Second, I didn’t mean them the way they sounded.

“Like when I said Junk’s appointment was a bad day for Europe? I actually said it was a good day for Europe. What I said made it a bad day was that the press had misunderstood what I’d really said.

“Junk likes a drink? Show me a good man who doesn’t. Why, in my Bullingdon days I myself could put it away like there’s no tomorrow. Old Junk is teetotal by comparison.

“Even now, when I feel like chillaxing a bit, I go to my favourite boozer Parvenu-on-the-Park and have some Bolli in a pint glass, to make it look like cider in case that bloke from The Mirror is snooping around.

“The landlord, calls himself Marie-Antoine, keeps a bottle of Bolli under the bar, just for me. So when I say, within the Mirror bloke’s earshot, ‘Tone, me old china, giz a pint of Wife Beater, mate,’ he knows what to pour.

“Took Junk there the other day, and you know what he told me after his fourth Sambuca? ‘Dave,’ he said, ‘I’ll give Britain a fair deal, don’t you worry, mate, mon ami.’

“How good is that? I did ask him to be more specific, and Junk said from now on, whenever there’s a vacancy in the Commission, he’ll look to appoint a Brit first, second and turd.

“I laughed at the pun, like Junk wanted me to. His English, to be honest for a change, isn’t quite as good as he thinks. Like when he told me the other day not to f*** him, I had to correct him. Junk, I said, you don’t mean f*** you. You mean f*** with you, and I’m the last man to want to do that.

“So as we move on from this episode, what do I take away from it? That my determination to succeed, for the sake of Britain and for the sake of Europe, has paid off and now it’s even greater than ever.

“Why, Junk even said when it’s time for me to look for another job next year, he’d be happy to appoint me his Vice Prez.

“And you know what I said? That’ll have to wait, mate. Hold your horses. I’ll piss all over 2015, largely thanks to you, Junk.

“Anyone who thought I was going to back down or blink is now thinking again. I’ll walk the election, get another fiver at 10 Downing, and after that I’ll be ready for your job. So we are heading to the same place, but at different speeds.

“Junk ordered another Sambuca and put a match to it. ‘It’s now a flamer,’ he said. ‘Like Mandy. You know, Peter?’ I laughed, like Junk wanted me to.”

When Dave told me all that, I wiped my brow. First, it’s good to know that my close friends Dave and Junk have kissed and made up. And second, I’m deliriously happy that Britain’s, or at least some Brits’, future in Europe is now secure.

Sorted, as Dave says whenever that bloke from The Mirror is about. His glottal stop is almost as good as Blair’s.