Just the arithmetic, m’lord

First, an admission of ignorance: I  had never heard of the French writer Renaud Camus before reading about his (suspended) prison sentence. Albert, yes. Renaud, no.

It’s France, monsieur. But not as we know it.

It follows that I haven’t read his book Le Grand Remplacement (The Great Replacement). According to the newspaper reports Mr Camus’s central argument is that massive Islamic immigration to Europe represents a demographic invasion.

The author is quoted as saying in a later speech that: “The irreversible colonisation is demographic colonisation, by the replacement of the population… if the story continues, it will not be that of France.”

I don’t know what kind of royalties Mr Camus received for that book, but his oral pronouncement earned him a suspended prison sentence in a French court. The charge was “public incitement to hate or violence on the basis of origin, ethnicity, nationality, race or religion.”

Having already owned up to my ignorance of Mr Camus and his work, I have to go by the newspaper reports only. These abound in references to ‘conspiracy theories’ adorned by assorted epithets, branding Mr Camus as a white supremacist, racist and the devil incarnate.

For all I know, he may indeed be all those things. However, by some unfortunate oversight the newspapers omit any substantive response to the face value of Mr Camus’s argument, presumably because it’s deemed too ludicrous for comment.

But, being a pernickety sort, I tend to look at arguments first and arguers a distant second. Hence, considering Mr Camus’s pronouncement in a dispassionate manner, I find it rings true on various levels.

One level is the kind of maths I studied in elementary school. I vaguely recall those baffling problems about a swimming pool with two pipes, one filling, the other draining.

Whether the pool will drain, overfill or remain roughly the same depends on the flow rates in the two pipes. That’s all I remember, so please don’t test me on further knowledge.

From that mathematical premise, Mr Camus’s comment seems unassailable. Or it would be if he could show that the current level of Islamic immigration to France, coupled with the reproduction rates of the Muslims already there, exceeds any increase in the indigenous population.

Here one doesn’t have to have a wad of actuarial tables close at hand to see that Mr Camus, an objectionable person though he may be, has a point.

Europe in general and France in particular have been accepting Muslim immigrants in their millions, defending that policy on humanitarian grounds. Far be it from me to argue against charity, but here it clashes with maths.

The world has some 1.6 billion Muslims. It wouldn’t be a gross exaggeration to suppose that at least a billion of them (and probably more) would rather live in Western Europe than in the places they tend to inhabit.

Most of them can credibly claim some kind of oppression because, alas, such is the nature of most Islamic states, where human rights campaigners are mostly used for target practice.

Considering that the population of Western Europe is under 200 million, it’s clear that the high-rent part of the continent can’t accept a billion newcomers. And even admitting a sizeable proportion of them would indeed amount to the remplacement that so upsets Mr Camus.

Yet he goes further than ascribing the influx of Muslims to the good nature of Western governments. He talks about Islamisation as a strategy adopted by Muslim leaders and carried out with the help of enthusiastic acquiescence on the part of some European leaders.

Hence the accusation of spreading conspiracy theories, levelled by the French court. Now I hate conspiracy theories, as I’m sure do you. All God’s children hate them and with good reason.

However, if said children are blessed with a rudimentary knowledge of history, they’ll know that there have always existed actual, non-theoretical conspiracies. Some of them, such as Bolshevism, pursued the goal of world domination.

Can Mr Camus argue that Islam falls into that category? Modern Islamic ideologues give him ample grounds for that. “Our victory,” the president of Algeria once said, “will come from the womb of every Muslim woman.”

And the guiding lights of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood clarified what he meant by victory. Thus Mohamed Akram: the Muslims’ task “is a kind of grand Jihad eliminating and destroying the Western civilisation from within… so that God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.” And thus Kamal El-Helbawi: “Our ideal is a global Islamic state”.

Such tirades can’t be dismissed as extremist rants: they are wholly consistent with Islamic scriptural sources, including the Koran (9:33, among many other verses). One may doubt that Muslim leaders deliberately engineer massive emigration to Western Europe – but not that they see it as a demographic shift in their favour.

What about acquiescence (I dare not say collusion) on the part of Western leaders? Mr Camus finds it hard to believe that immigration of millions could have just happened spontaneously. In my weak moments, so do I.

Moreover, in Britain at least, we have a frank confession by Peter Mandelson, Tony Blair’s right hand. With honesty some would describe as cynicism, he once admitted that Blair’s government actively promoted Islamic immigration as a way of stacking the electoral pack in favour of Labour.

Not all European leaders display the same honesty, but, as that notorious white supremacist book says, “ye shall know them by their fruits”.

For example, Britain already has 3,000,000 Muslims (those we know about), not many of whom have become culturally British or ever intend to do so. And that number is growing rapidly, threatening to outdo France’s 5,000,000-plus, although the French are doing their level best to stay ahead.

At such levels, it isn’t immigration any longer. It’s indeed colonisation or perhaps even occupation. No country, and certainly none within the core European civilisation, can afford such a situation culturally even if she can afford it economically.

Bringing that swimming pool back into the discussion, if the present tendency continues at the same pace or even at all, Mr Camus will be richly vindicated. It’s just the arithmetic, m’lord. Or whatever they call French judges.

A fate worse than Covid

An event that can have graver ramifications than coronavirus, has passed barely noticed.

The lady is supposed to be blind, not stupid

The latest edition of the Crown Court Compendium tells judges to drop the term ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. Instead they must give “clear instruction to the jury that they have to be satisfied so that they are sure before they can convict.”

I don’t mean to trivialise the murderous pandemic. However, Britain can go through such ordeals and still remain Britain. A different Britain perhaps, but Britain nonetheless.

For, awful as such trials and tribulations are, they are peripheral to the core that makes the country what it is. But what is that core?

Some people, perhaps nowadays most, will say democracy. That view would reflect the modern obsession with form at the expense of substance. However, democracy is nothing but method of government and, as such, should be judged on the basis of the society it brings forth.

If it produces a just society, it’s to be lauded. If it doesn’t, it ought to be rebuked. But a just society is the ultimate practically achievable end, to which democracy may or may not be the best means.

The italicised words are critical. There are many pies floating through the sky, each a half-baked fantasy about universal equality, absence of poverty and disease, nonexistent crime and some such. These do nothing but distract people from what the public sphere can realistically deliver: justice.

The English Common Law arguably serves justice better than any other legal system in history. Unlike positive law practised throughout the continent, our law has evolved over centuries by carefully accumulating precedents and hence an understanding of what is and isn’t just.

While positive law is passed down from top to bottom, the English Common Law is vectored in the opposite direction. It’s based not so much on flashes of legal brilliance as on human wisdom and common sense, the more reliable faculties.

This legal system comes closer than anything else to encapsulating the British national character. Originally spinning out of scriptural commandments, it reflects such fundamental British qualities as equity, moderation, fairness, prudence.

Should the English Common Law be abandoned or debauched, Britain would no longer be Britain. Alas, debauchment is exactly what has been going on for years now.

Our common law is anchored by concepts held to be immutable for centuries. These include jury trial, habeas corpus, double jeopardy, the right not to give self-incriminating evidence – and proof beyond reasonable doubt as a standard required for a conviction.

All of these have been under a concerted assault. Margaret Thatcher, for example, didn’t hesitate to knock out one of the cornerstones: the right not to give self-incriminating evidence. Her stated reason was an upsurge in IRA terrorism.

Then in 2005, when IRA murderers had been elevated to the rank of statesmen, the government of the ghastly Tony Blair abandoned another lapidary law, that of double jeopardy. That time it used not terrorism but newly fashionable sex crimes as a pretext.

And now the requirement for the prosecution to make its case beyond reasonable doubt bites the dust. And it’s not just a change in wording.

Telling jurors “to be satisfied so that they are sure” means for them to have no doubts whatsoever, not just reasonable ones. If anything could produce even a lower conviction rate, this is it.

In fact, the demand for ‘reasonable doubt’ was introduced in the late 18th century specifically to make it easier for jurors to convict. Otherwise they feared the ancient law threatening “the Vengeance of God…” if they convicted without being sure.

Since the vengeance of God is no longer an omnipresent concern, why change the formula that has worked well for 250 years? According to the Judicial Office, “Judges may adapt their language to avoid difficulties some juries have with the phrase ‘reasonable doubt’.”

One wonders what part of reasonable doubt they don’t understand, and how their minds would be clarified by the new demand for, effectively, absolute certainty. However, if that problem is real, it brings into question the jury system as such.

For it can’t operate as an instrument of justice in the absence of a broadly based group of people who understand what justice is. That condition isn’t being invariably met in today’s British courts.

Thus an argument that a murderer had a tough childhood has been known to produce mitigated sentences or even acquittals, race has been seen as an extenuating circumstance, and political motives have been accepted as being more noble than unvarnished savagery.

That stands to reason. Jurors have to be drawn from the available pool of humanity, which, alas, has been poisoned by decades of comprehensive non-education and ‘liberal’ propaganda. As a result, courts are beginning to act as rubber stamps of egalitarianism, rather than agents of justice.

Something needs to be done, but the demand for absolute certainty will only make matters worse. Jury selection practices (indeed principles) deserve another look, something they are unlikely to receive.

For jurors are picked from electoral rolls, and everyone on them is deemed qualified not only to decide who knocked off that jewellery shop, but even who should govern the country.

Limiting eligibility for jury duty would be tantamount to limiting franchise, which is patently impossible – as I said earlier, modernity is committed to form at the expense of substance. And the form it’s committed to demands increasingly more, not less, egalitarianism.

The threat to our legality is real, and it can do something Covid-19 can’t do: turn Britain into something else.

Sometimes I wonder about Boris

While it’s too early to judge Boris Johnson’s tenure, his person has been in the public eye long enough for some conclusions to be drawn.

That he has always been precociously brilliant is beyond doubt. After all, The Telegraph posted Mr Johnson to Brussels as its bureau chief at the tender age of 24, which is remarkable even by the paedocratic standards of modern times.

His subsequent career as columnist, editor, author and finally politician also shows flashes of brilliance. He is probably the best-educated PM since Churchill and the most intelligent one since Thatcher.

He also enjoys (if that’s the right word) a reputation for being priapic and louche, which, though unfortunate, isn’t unforgivable. Neither quality is particularly rare among highly driven men seeking public appeal, though at times one wishes our PM displayed more gravity and less levity.

All things considered, one can already see that Mr Johnson is a vast improvement on every PM since Thatcher, a contrast made especially striking if one compares his way of handling both Brexit and the general election with Mr Cameron’s and Mrs May’s.

Hence it would be curmudgeonly to gripe about Mr Johnson’s intellectual failings, small as they are by comparison to his predecessors’. However, abandoning for a second the relativist comparative standards, one is justified in lamenting the dim background against which Mr Johnson shines.

For, as the evolution of his views on the EU shows, he makes up in brilliance what he lacks in depth. The same process casts doubt on his integrity as well.

In a 2014 interview our future PM explained that he had been a Eurosceptic since his Brussels posting from 1989 to 1994: “The fundamental idea of free trade, cooperation and mutual respect, ensuring France and Germany never go to war again… that is fundamentally not a bad idea.

“The question is ‘do you need to create supranational institutions acquiring ever greater centralised power?’ I became convinced in my time in Brussels for The Daily Telegraph that it was not necessary.”

There Mr Johnson essentially repeated the EU propaganda line mendaciously claiming that free trade and peace are the main reasons for its existence. In fact, any serious study of that institution’s history shows that creating a central supranational state has always been its overarching end.

Everything else, including “free trade, cooperation and mutual respect” has always been merely camouflage designed not to scare off the prey, potential members.

Peace between Germany and France is indeed a good idea, especially since these countries tend to draw everyone else into a conflict between them. But that aim was already achieved in 1945-1960, when Germany was effectively disarmed, and France went on to become a nuclear power during de Gaulle’s administration.

In spite of his epiphany, Mr Johnson managed to do a good job containing his opposition to the EU. Until 2016 he had been publishing ‘balanced’ articles highlighting arguments in favour of that pernicious contrivance.

In fact, his coming out in favour of Brexit in 2016 caught David Cameron by surprise: he had been counting on Mr Johnson’s support for the Remain cause, and not without reason. Later Johnson contradicted his earlier stories about his Damascene experience in Brussels by spinning a nice yarn about Epiphany Mark II.

Apparently, when the issue came to a boil at referendum time, he sat down and wrote two articles, one arguing in favour of the EU, the other against. He then weighed the two pieces in the balance and found the second piece more persuasive – this in spite of having supposedly realised that the EU was “unnecessary” more than a decade earlier.

Two things are reasonably obvious here. First, Mr Johnson’s understanding of the EU was superficial and clichéd – he clearly never gave himself the trouble to study the issue at sufficient depth. Second, if he has any convictions on this or indeed any other matter, they are strictly secondary to political expediency.

His championship of the Brexit cause, welcome as it was, was motivated not by rational arguments weighed one against another, but by a cold calculation of the effect either position would have on his own electoral chances.

His calculation has proved correct, and I for one am grateful for the support he gave the Brexit cause, and also for his success in keeping Trotskyist ghouls out of government.

Perhaps it’s unrealistic to expect to see present-day Burkes in our government. In fact, it’s full of them, but there the word is spelled differently. Mr Johnson isn’t the worst option, which is less than effusive praise. It’s merely a realistic assessment.

That racist Covid-19

Reading our newspapers, one could get the impression that the virus is a fully paid-up EDL member and Tommy Robinson’s best friend.

American know how to protest against lockdowns

It’s clearly biased against blacks and ethnic minorities (BME), this at a time when even telling an ethnic joke may lead to unemployment for life. To its credit, coronavirus doesn’t mock ethnic minorities. To its eternal shame, it kills them.

Just look at the statistics. Blacks and Asians make up a mere 13 per cent of the UK population (Tommy would take exception to the ‘mere’ part), and yet they are occupying a third of all Covid-19 intensive care beds. And the plight of medical personnel is even worse.

Two thirds of NHS staff killed by the virus come from BME groups. This isn’t something the Royal College of Physicians is going to take lying down, as it were. Thus spoke its spokesman: “This issue needs to be addressed urgently. Ethnicity should be considered a risk factor in the same way age is.”

The issue is indeed being addressed urgently. Some hospitals are moving BME medics from frontline to support duties, which may create a staffing problem. After all, depending on the area, BME nurses make up 20 to 40 per cent of the NHS total number.

At the same time Carol Cooper, Head of Equality, Diversity and Human Rights at Birmingham Community Hospital (one wonders how the hospital functioned when that post didn’t exist), complains that some BME nurses are deliberately “being taken from the wards that they usually work on and put on the Covid wards and they feel that there is a bias. Many of them are terrified.”

As well they should be. Yet Miss Cooper sounds as if it’s not just Covid but also the NHS that is so racist that it uses BME personnel for genocidal purposes.

But why are blacks and Asians so vulnerable? As with everything else about Covid, no one really knows.

Many genetic, social and cultural factors are mentioned as possible culprits, and I can’t claim sufficient expertise even to list them. Yet I do have some background in looking at statistical data, and that experience has made me sceptical, not to say cynical.

A case in point, if I may. If, as experts testify, blacks and Asians are especially vulnerable to Covid because they have a rogue protein in their lungs and also suffer from a higher incidence of hypertension and Type 2 diabetes, then mortality statistics shouldn’t change much from one place to another.

Yet, according to the US National Center for Health Statistics, they do.

A report issued on 20 April shows that white Americans have a higher mortality rate (159 per million) than black Americans (132) and much higher than Asian Americans (62).

By far the highest mortality (373) was recorded in the OTHER group, mostly comprising people of mixed race. Apparently, black or Asian blood is at its most dangerous when served not neat but in cocktails.

I can’t explain this transatlantic disparity. All I can do is repeat the leitmotif ubiquitous in every possible medium, from tabloids to medical journals to government press releases: we haven’t a clue.

And one thing governments haven’t a clue about is the safest exit strategy. Yet one could hazard a guess on their plans, a temptation always hard to resist.

Apparently the governments of most Western countries, including Britain, have decided to follow a wait-and-see strategy that, depending on one’s disposition, one could describe as pragmatic, cynical or even dishonest.

They don’t want to take responsibility for lifting lockdowns too early and risking another spike in the pandemic. Nor do they want to cause an even deadlier damage to the economy by prolonging the lockdowns indefinitely.

Instead they seem to be relying on spontaneous public revolts flaring up everywhere. These can vary from rallies featuring firearms, as in several American states, to the more passive British response of getting out more, on foot or by car.

If coronavirus spikes as a result, the governments will tighten up the restrictions, while blaming people for their irresponsibility. If, on the other hand, the number of cases goes down, the governments will be able to step in, lift the restrictions and tout their own wisdom.

In other words, our politicians are acting in character, as they always do. Politics comes first, second and tenth. Human lives matter, but not nearly as much as the blame for their loss.

Oh well, seems like it’s not only statistics that I am sceptical, not to say cynical, about. Must be a character flaw.  

Pray all the way to the bank

Merkel and Macron don’t see eye to eye on lending the poorer EU members a helping hand. In fact, it’s the word ‘lending’ that encapsulates their disagreement.

“You say Kartoffel, I say pomme, let’s call the whole thing off.”

According to Merkel, aid to the stragglers should come as loans to be repaid – a version of the wartime Lend-Lease.

Macron, on the other hand, favours a straightforward bailout – a version of the post-war Marshall Plan.

That is, Merkel is prepared to offer bailout grants too, but only if the recipients submit to mandated tax policies, which is to say put paid to what little remains of their sovereignty. Otherwise, it’s a firm nein.

“The countries that are blocking [my proposal],” complained Manny, “are the same ones as ever, the frugals: Germany, the Netherlands, whose deep psychology and political constraints justify very hard positions.”

What interests me here isn’t so much Macron’s generosity as the perceived lack thereof on the part of the so-called ‘frugals’. What exactly is the nature of their frugality?

If Manny weren’t a modern man, he’d use a more precise word: Protestant. For that’s the schismatic form of Christianity predominantly espoused in the countries he finds so uncooperative.

Here he could do worse than reread (read?) Max Weber’s 1905 book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.

Weber’s analysis hinges on the causative link between the Reformation and capitalism, both its rise and spread. Yet capitalism, narrowly defined as the use of one’s own or borrowed capital to economic ends, had been spreading steadily throughout the Middle Ages – in spite of the variously vigorous resistance on the part of the Church.

I’d suggest that replacing ‘Capitalism’ with ‘Renaissance humanism’ would make the title just as valid. The subsequent argument would revolve around the Reformation being in some important ways a continuation of the Renaissance by other means. But, to make that argument, Weber would have had to delve deep into matters religious, which wasn’t really his forte.

It is, however, a fact that Northern Italy was already in the 14th century the banking centre of Europe. In a critical development, one of the Avignon Popes, John XXII, rejected the Franciscan insistence on the absolute poverty of Jesus and his apostles, thus setting the stage for the ecclesiastical endorsement of wealth.

The most important development came in 1403 when charging interest on loans was ruled legal in Florence. That was the first time neonatal capitalism managed to sweep aside the de jure resistance of the Church in a Christian society.

There is no denying that capitalism benefited from the Reformation, but was it caused by it? The answer is probably no, and Weber tacitly acknowledged as much.

But neither is this a case of a simple coincidence in time. Witness the fact that even in our time, Protestant countries boast a per capita GDP 1.5 times higher than in Catholic nations, three times higher than in Orthodox ones, and five times higher than in Muslim lands – this despite an ocean of petrodollars sloshing underfoot in the largest Orthodox country and quite a few Muslim ones.

Only modern ignoramuses would ignore religion as both a formative factor of national character and its reflection. That most European countries are now secular only masks that link, rather than severing it.

France introduced her laïcité in the same year Weber published his seminal work, and secularism has since become a matter of ideology there, with many Frenchmen openly mocking Christianity.

That’s their business, but the French, including their leader, should be aware of the intellectual cost of secularism. For, even though ideology is a cognate of idea, the two words are more philosophically opposite than related.

If Macron and other EU ideologues didn’t discard religion in their analysis, they’d think twice before shilling for a single state comprising nations of different religious backgrounds and therefore different characters.

Catholicism, Eastern and Greek Orthodoxy, Lutheran and Calvinist Protestantism are all represented among EU members, and the Muslim Bosnia will soon join the fold. Such incidentals may not matter to EU ideologues, but they ignore them at their peril.

It takes someone whose reason is densely clouded by ideology to expect, say, the Greeks, Italians, Germans, Frenchmen, Swedes and Bosnians to homogenise their economic behaviour enough to function successfully under the same economic policies or even principles.

Religion isn’t the only tectonic fault in the EU, but it’s perhaps the deepest. An earthquake is bound to occur sooner or later, and neither a Lend-Lease nor a Marshall Plan will stop it in the long run.

“If you let part of Europe fall, the whole of Europe will fall,” warns Manny, meaning the EU. From his mouth to God’s ear, I say.

Our happy-clappy multitudes

Having grown up in a country where people were supposed to jump up and applaud on cue at various public rallies, I may be oversensitive to mandated collective enthusiasm.

Social distancing on Westminster Bridge.

Perhaps it does take heightened sensitivity to detect something sinister in such public displays. Yet even someone without my experience should at least sense they are in excruciatingly bad taste.

This is reflected in the ambiguous name for this new-fangled practice: CLAP FOR CARERS. It took me a while to realise that the first word is actually a verb rather than a noun. At first I couldn’t figure out why we should wish such an unpleasant disease on our heroic medics.

But double entendres aside, those clapping lemmings aren’t just potential putty in tyrants’ hands, and not merely people devoid of elementary taste. As their yesterday’s display showed, they are also stupid.

Hundreds of them gathered on Westminster Bridge at 8pm last night to prove they are happy to trade their individuality for mob membership. No social distancing was anywhere in sight: someone ought to have told the lemmings that two metres is rather more than two inches.

Hence, while celebrating the medics, the mob was doing its best to increase their workload. After all, social distancing regulations are there for a purpose, aren’t they?

Don’t closely packed crowds make it easier for the virus to spread? If so, the whole exercise looked somewhat circuitous: first the celebrants increase the number of patients in care, then they ‘clap the carers’. There’s no logic to it.

Unless, of course, they know something the rest of us don’t, that social distancing, lockdowns, face masks and so forth are a load of malarkey, ignored by people in the know.

There were quite a few possessors of that secret knowledge on the bridge: not just the ordinary happy-clappers, but also some staffers of the near-by St Thomas’ Hospital, and a heavy police presence led by the Met Police chief Cressida Dick (considering her predilections, that surname is an aptonym if I’ve ever seen one).

The back-up sound was provided by parked ambulances with their blaring sirens. The scene was sickening in every sense of the word.

Since Miss Dick’s job has less to do with policing than politics, one can understand her desire to grab any photo op going. What’s less immediately clear is how the police can then justify banning people from saying good-bye to their dying relations in hospitals.

Let’s remind ourselves that a just society is always rational, while a tyranny hardly ever is. On the contrary, it works by replacing reason with reflexes, sentiment with sentimentality and individuality with a craving for group identity.

That’s why aspiring despots always seek to draw people into a collective entity, house-trained to express joy or, as need be, indignation. Reason or – on yesterday’s evidence – prudence doesn’t come into it at all. In fact, people are actively encouraged to act irrationally and stupidly. 

Yet it’s not only coronavirus but also, more important, tyranny that ought to be kept at bay. And the best way of doing so is to resist being shepherded into a herd. We are neither sheep nor lemmings – we are people created in the image and likeness of God.

That our doctors and nurses have earned our gratitude is beyond doubt. But we ought to express gratitude as people, not livestock. May I suggest a quiet prayer of thanks?

A walker’s guide to survival

The other day I wrote a facetious piece about protection against coronavirus. I ended on a joke that some of my readers found offensively misogynist, and one I vowed never to repeat (“There’s no such thing as an ugly woman. There’s only not enough booze.”).


Now, by way of redemption, I feel duty-bound to offset levity with gravity by writing a serious piece about a genuinely effective protection technique based on a law of nature discovered by… well, me.

Unlike many such discoveries, this one didn’t start with an a priori assumption, otherwise known as hypothesis. Instead it emerged a posteriori as a result of drawing inference from a body of empirical observation.

Covid-19 has made tennis impossible and, wife beating not being a viable exercise option, I had to look for some other physical activity. Hence I started walking miles every day, something I hadn’t done since my Moscow youth, when I had no car, hated public transport and couldn’t afford taxis.

Since the pandemic struck I’ve clocked the better part of 100 miles, walking London streets, parks and cemeteries. On my strolls I studiously observe the mandated 2-meter (6’7”) distance from other pedestrians.

Some of them follow suit eagerly, some reluctantly, some not at all. Obviously, telling those groups apart is important for someone who doesn’t wish to curtail his life expectancy.

But how can you anticipate the width of the berth you can expect from a pedestrian? To answer this vital question I’ve turned every walk into a scientific experiment, gathering and mentally tabulating data with the meticulousness of a committed researcher.

Only when I felt that my study sample was wide and representative enough did I attempt to draw some general conclusions. And only after I drew such conclusions did I arrive at an immutable law of human nature.

Here it is: generally speaking, the higher the pedestrian’s class, the wider the berth he’ll give you – and vice versa.

When I shared this discovery with Penelope, her first reaction was that of incredulity. However, invited to make her own observations on this morning’s 4-mile trek, she confirmed my findings.

Mine, however, isn’t an exercise in scholarly abstractions. This discovery has wide practical applications, and in many cases it can make the difference between life and death.

Hence, when choosing a route for an urban walk, one ought to map it though the kind of neighbourhoods where most other strollers can be confidently predicted to fall into the A and B+ social categories.

If you walk only in your own area, you probably know which side of the track is right and which isn’t. Yet if you venture too far outside your home patch, there are certain telltale signs to look for.

In the UK, the cars parked in residential streets are a reliable indicator. If most of them are upmarket German, with a smattering of Aston Martins, Jaguars and perhaps the odd Lexus, you’ll know your life is safe – especially if the cars are late models with an average resale value of £40,000-plus.

Conversely, if you see many beat-up Vauxhalls, Fords and iffy models from Southwest Asia, think of that neighbourhood as a leper colony: any local resident coming your way may make a homicide attempt of exhaling on you.

If you don’t know much about cars, you’re well advised to carry a copy of the Which Car? guide. It doesn’t weigh enough to slow you down, and it could save your life.

(IMPORTANT NOTICE: The car test may not work in other countries. Wealthy continentals, especially Frenchmen, are afflicted with both reverse snobbery and excessive parsimony. As a result, they routinely drive 20-year-old bangers that were no great shakes to begin with, the kind of cars that no self-respecting Londoner would be caught dead in. A Frenchman in a brand-new Porsche is likely to be either a drug dealer or a PSG footballer.)

Windows provide another useful indicator. Any mesh, net or muslin curtains on any windows, no matter how few, should have the same effect on you as a leper’s bell had on a medieval pilgrim. Run for your life.

The presence of much scaffolding in a street is a good sign. It suggests that the residents have enough money to improve or even expand their houses. Such people are unlikely to risk close proximity to a pedestrian. But do watch out for the workmen on the scaffolding: they may come down and walk towards you, chattering away in Polish.

And finally, make sure the area has no mosques, nor churches exhibiting a Jesus Saves sign or similar.

Of course, it’s possible for the wrong people to find themselves in the right neighbourhoods. How can you spot such interlopers?

Here are a few things to watch for: legible T-shirts, socks worn with sandals, any clothing items bespeaking support for any sports team, baseball caps (especially if worn backwards), tattoos and facial metal, closely cropped hair if any, excessive weight and – above all – a feral facial expression permanently frozen in a belligerent grimace.

When you see an individual like that coming your way, cross over to the other side of the street and hope he doesn’t take it personally.

Just remember: now that you know the Boot Law, there’s no reason you can’t walk the streets safely. Yet you’ll be even better off staying at home, saving lives and — most important — protecting the NHS. Or did I get the slogan wrong?

No thanks to the NHS

Thank you NHS signs adorn London streets. And at 8 pm every Thursday, thousands of lemmings in the throes of mandated collective enthusiasm rush to their window to applaud the NHS.

Thank doctors and nurses instead

An outside observer could assume that the NHS is saving lives. Yet such an assumption would be based on what in rhetoric is called a category error. In this case, the error is in confusing NHS doctors and nurses with the institution that employs them.

That our heroic frontline troops are risking – and losing – their lives in the battle against the pandemic is beyond doubt. Yet their heroism no more justifies the NHS than the Light Brigade’s heroism vindicated the system that had sent those young men to charge Russian guns at Balaklava.

Doctors and nurses become doctors and nurses because they want to save lives. They do so under any system of medical care in His creation: private, public or a mixture of the two. They even try to save lives where no system exists, say in the far ends of Africa.

And of course they do so in Britain. Yet here they do their noble work not because of the NHS but in spite of it.

Acting in the manner of every giant socialist bureaucracy, the NHS ties medical professionals hand and foot with red tape, buries them under an avalanche of idiotic forms, wastes their time in courses on such non-subjects as diversity, subjugates them to self-serving administrators and consultants.

To create high-paying positions for those parasites, the NHS cuts hospital beds and frontline jobs. As a result, more and more excellent doctors who can’t take that nonsense any longer retire in their 50s or even 40s.

Now that coronavirus has scared the country out of its wits, medical professionals find it easier to navigate their way around parasitic administrators to do their jobs more efficiently than they ever could before.

Part of the reason the NHS is now moving somewhat faster than normally is that it grudgingly has to accept help from private enterprise. But the system’s socialist DNA still forces it to sabotage such cooperation – even with lives at stake.

Thus a British PPE manufacturer had to sell millions of masks, gowns and aprons abroad because the NHS was giving it a bureaucratic run-around. The manufacturer said it had spent “five weeks hammering at the government’s door”, all to no avail.

According to the BBC, at least five other companies have been unable to contact the government with offers of supplies. Many MPs also have similar stories to tell about their constituencies.

And even Labour MP Diane ‘Corbyn’ Abbott, herself a borderline communist, complained: “I have at least one company that has hit a brick wall with the NHS bureaucracy.”

When even socialists begin to whinge about a socialist showcase, things must be really bad. Let’s remember that next time when we feel compelled to thank the NHS.

The balls are in your court

False modesty aside, I can claim I’ve come close to solving the problem of coronavirus.

Cutting response to coronavirus

Well, perhaps solving the problem is a bit of an overstatement. But I can certainly suggest preventive measures that have so far escaped the medics’ attention. They seem to be unable to connect the dots already in the public domain.

DOT 1: Men are dying of coronavirus at twice the rate of women. My question is, why does this misandrist virus discriminate against men? Is it to pay us back for discriminating against women?

Logical as this guess sounds, it presupposes that the virus possesses a capacity for rational thought and moral judgement, which is unlikely. Yet a physiological explanation is out there, hiding in plain view.

It turns out that men’s testicles provide a safe haven for the virus. Covid-19 gets down there, bonds with testicular proteins and refuses to leave with the obduracy of a Romanian squatter. It then strikes – and Bob’s your undertaker.

This much is well-known, to any tabloid reader at any rate. Yet no one before me had been able to draw the right conclusion. No one had experienced the same flash of inspiration.

Archimedes in his bath, Newton under that apple tree, Mendeleyev snoring in his bed – looking at that information, I experienced a similar, ostensibly spontaneous flash of discovery.

If your testicles can kill you, why not just have them removed prophylactically? (This procedure is best performed professionally. But, if you opt for the DIY solution, remember to disinfect your garden shears beforehand).

If you find this preventive measure too drastic, think of Angelina Jolie who had a prophylactic double mastectomy because she was afraid she might get breast cancer. And Angelina’s breasts were a money-spinning asset, unlike your testicles (if you’re not a Y-front model).

You won’t be able to have children afterwards, but who needs those little spongers anyway? Yet when it comes to the really important things in life, otherwise known as how’s-your-father, fear nought.

Regular testosterone injections will keep what’s left of your genitalia in working order. And, job done, your girlfriend happy, your wife none the wiser, you can still reach for that cigarette.

DOT 2. No, I’m not kidding. I realise that most of you probably don’t smoke. But, unless you wish to defy medical research, you’d better start.

It turns out that cigarette smoke keeps Covid-19 at bay. That discovery was made by David Hockney, better known for his paintings than for medical breakthroughs.

However, this amateur’s revelation was supported by professionals. For example, one US study showed that, while 14 per cent of all Americans smoke, only 1.3 per cent of coronavirus patients are smokers. In Britain, the corresponding numbers are similar.

So go ahead, light up and, unlike Bill Clinton, you can even inhale. Eventually you may die of lung cancer, but ‘eventually’ is the operative word. Whereas cancer will be years in arriving, coronavirus may kill you next week.

Leaving the domain of medical science, we’re now entering one of my personal observation.

DOT 3. Covid-19 discriminates not only against men but also against blacks, who suffer at two to three times the scale of their proportion in the population.

Since no one can explain this phenomenon adequately, here comes my observation. I wish to disclaim in advance that I’m drawing no conclusions on this basis, and neither I hope will you.

Penelope and I walk some three miles every day, with our trajectory resembling a slalom rate: whenever another couple comes our way, we veer to one side in a single file, they veer to the other, and the cause of social distancing is dutifully served.

Now it pains me to have to say this, but black couples we come across are much less likely to make such adjustments. If that’s a general tendency, could it explain the higher incidence of coronavirus in that group? I don’t know. But all the dots now connected support the ancient adage of prevention being the best cure.

P.S. Speaking of prevention and ancient adages, some irresponsible chaps complain that mandatory face masks will make it hard to tell pretty women from ugly ones.

They would be well-advised to remember the old Russian wisdom: There’s no such thing as an ugly woman. There’s only not enough booze.

Manny goes for broke

There’s an opportunity in every crisis, and Manny Macron sensed that coronavirus presents an opportunity of a lifetime.

Bien joué, mon petit

“I believe the EU is a political project,” he declared, thereby abandoning the legacy of the EU founders. Yes, they, the Monnets, de Gasperis, Schumans of this world, knew that their goal was political: the creation of a single European superstate.

But they largely kept that knowledge to themselves, wary of scaring off potential suckers. Instead they insisted that, for tactical purposes, every step towards further integration should be presented as a purely economic measure.

Isn’t it a good idea to pool our coal and steel production? Of course it is. Fine, now we’ve done that, shouldn’t we create a free trade zone? We all believe in free trade, but no? And so forth, until the time came to ditch subterfuge and relegate those perfidious founders to distant history.

The EU is indeed a political project and only that – always was, always is, always will be. Manny thus gets top marks for honesty from his foster mother Brigitte. But politicking is an expensive business. So who’ll pick up the tab?

That’s where the opportunity knocked, and Manny grabbed it with both hands: “We have no choice but to set up a fund that could issue common debt with a common guarantee.” And obviously that would mean a common finance minister at least or, better still, a common government with Manny at the helm.

Now imagine the same proposal being put to the denizens of a village. Some of them would own their houses outright, others would be up to their ears in mortgages and remortgages. Taking a wild guess, which group will support the idea of mutualising debt and which one would oppose it?

The answer is obvious. Just as obviously Germany, Holland and other northern EU members, net EU contributors all, are up in arms, while Italy, Spain and all other broke countries teetering on the verge of bankruptcy, back the idea wholeheartedly.

Manny was aghast at the selfishness of the sales boches. “Qu’est que c’est que ce bordel?” he screamed. “The whole damn EU thing was your idea, not just ours, and now you refuse to pay? What d’you want, kick the project into touch?!?”

This is a rather loose rendition of Manny’s actual tirade. But he did say words to that effect: “If we can’t do this today, I tell you the populists will win – today, tomorrow, the day after, in Italy, in Spain, perhaps in France and elsewhere.”

In case your EU is somewhat rusty, allow me to translate. In that language, ‘populists’ is a broad-spectrum term of abuse designating a) conservatives, b) patriots, c) those harbouring doubts about a European superstate, d) Marine Le Pen, e) those who dislike Manny and f) generally disagreeable individuals.

So yet again those northern overachievers will have to crack their chequebooks open, for understated generosity will spell “the collapse of the European idea”, as Manny put it.

This isn’t time for fiscal sanity, free enterprise and sound economics in general, he explained. “We are going to nationalise the wages and the financial accounts of almost all our businesses. That’s what we’re doing. All our economies, including the most liberal are doing that. It’s against all the dogmas, but that’s the way it is.”

Yet again a translation is called for. What Manny means is that all EU members should use the pandemic as a smokescreen behind which they can push through wholesale nationalisation.

Splendid idea, that, but I have to disagree on one minor point. That sort of thing isn’t against “all the dogmas”. Quite the opposite: it fully conforms to the dogmas laid down in Das Kapital and its spinoffs.

Thereby yet another cat jumps out of the bag whose strings were loosened by Manny. ‘The European idea’ is a socialist idea, and that’s all it can ever be. It’s a scaled-down version of a single world government, a notion cherished in every socialist heart.

And, divested of its bien pensant jargon, based on Christian ideals of brotherhood and solidarity bowdlerised and perverted, socialism is nothing but the tyranny of a giant central state. That’s the ‘idea’ for which Manny’s loins ache. His speech is nothing but an attempted power grab: he clearly sees himself as a potential present-day Charlemagne, minus all that ‘Holy’ business.

Now how do you describe the moral character of a chap who regards a deadly pandemic as a propitious moment to push through his pernicious political agenda?

I could provide a description or two, but I’m opposed to swearing in print.

P.S. My one-time friend Roy Kerridge, the last great eccentric among journalists and the last great journalist among eccentrics, died on 6 April. RIP.