Dogs are said to acquire the characteristics of their owners. If that’s true, then what about other domestic animals?
That question was answered the other day, when a sow and her two piglets escaped from a small farm and broke into a supermarket in the Siberian city of Tyumen.
Had they done so some 50 years ago, they would have found only a few tins on otherwise empty shelves. But today’s Russian supermarkets feature all sort of foods other than the ziggurats of tins I recall from my childhood.
The pigs must have been impressed by the cornucopia on offer, especially since, unlike cows, they are omnivorous. The happy family could have thus helped themselves to meat, fruit, vegetables, pastries – the selection was vast.
Yet the trio unerringly made their way to the alcohol aisle. There the mother used her snout to knock two bottles of brandy to the floor. The bottles smashed, and the pigs happily lapped up the boozy puddle.
The staff, who must have been deeply concerned about underage drinking, ejected the piglets and also, unfairly, their mother, who was demonstrably of age.
One should refrain from drawing far-reaching conclusions on the basis of that episode, but it’s conceivable that the Russians’ fondness for drink might have rubbed off on their animals.
For the sake of impartiality, it’s important to note that the Russians aren’t the only bibulous nation. Decades ago their supremacy in that area went unchallenged, but these days the British could give them a good run for their money – especially in the new Tory areas of the North.
In fact, personal observation shows that on a Saturday night one sees more drunks in, say, Liverpool or Hull than in Moscow. However, Tyumen isn’t Moscow any more than Hull is London and, compared to Siberians, our northerners would look positively abstemious.
In fact, I’m sure that, given the chance, our Berkshire or Saddleback pigs wouldn’t head straight for the booze aisle in a supermarket. Their taste would run more towards potatoes and apples, but, in the absence of empirical evidence, that’s only a guess.
While we are on the subject of comparing Russia and Britain, we ought to extrapolate from the porcine context and look at humans. Here I’m proud of my former countrymen’s ingenuity.
Having been exposed to the West en masse for only 30 years or even less, the Russians have proved to be remarkably quick studies. In fact, many of them have plumbed the depths the native populations left untapped throughout their history.
One ought to remark with some chagrin than most of those depths have to do with criminal behaviour, especially money laundering. Now in that area, if no longer in drunkenness, the Russians are leading the world by a wide margin.
Alas, the ground-breaking ingenuity of Russian ‘oligarchs’ seldom comes up to the surface. Yet, credit where it’s due, I for one am in awe.
Everyone knows that money can be laundered through financial institutions and estate markets. Though not blessed with much practical nous, even I can figure out how to do that.
Yet it would never have occurred to me that British courts could be used to that end too. So much more do I admire those Russians who expand my horizons.
‘Oligarchs’, which is the Russian for organised criminals, agree to sue one another in British courts, with the sums awarded for phony damages then emerging squeaky clean. Not only that, but they sometimes also sue themselves, through anonymous shell companies somewhere offshore.
Apparently, hundreds of millions have been processed through our legal system in this fashion, although no one can pinpoint the exact amount.
The Russians have thus demonstrated their ability to corrupt all our institutions, not just the financial and political ones. Goddess Themis is happy to turn a blind eye too.
Such creativity would of course be impossible without at least acquiescence, and more likely active complicity, on the part of our legal firms. They seem to be as happy to take the dirty rouble as their financial and political colleagues.
Those Russian criminals are toxic, but British institutions are avidly spreading that poison around. Now, that’s what I call piggery.