Our education is in safe hands

“I needed to have the confidence and the courage to say this is fine, in fact it’s better than fine,” said Education Secretary Justine Greening.

Now I for one expect government ministers to enlarge mostly on their remit. Since for Miss Greening that’s education, one would expect, reading the above statement out of context, that she has done something in her area that required ‘confidence and courage’.

There’s no denying that something needs doing. Our predominantly state education is cranking out functional illiterates, and I only say ‘functional’ out of politeness. In fact, most pupils leave school not only completely detached from our civilisation but indeed unable to fend for themselves in the rough-and-tumble of economic life.

So let me guess. What gave Miss Greening the chance to display those marvellous qualities? I get it.

She must have started by identifying the problem, which is that 50 years ago our education stopped educating. Instead, cross-party subversives turned it into a workshop for social engineering, otherwise known as the comprehensive system.

Children were no longer supposed to be educated well – they were all to be educated equally. And in any field of endeavour, equality is the opposite of quality, for all their consonance.

So one would be forgiven for supposing that Miss Greening has committed the resources of her department to getting rid of that abomination, along with the demotic (demonic?) National School Curriculum.

Instead she must have reintroduced the old two-tier system that in the past made our education the envy of the world, instead of its laughingstock. She then must have declared that, rather than being seen as the aim of secondary education, universal literacy and numeracy are to be achieved at elementary school level.

Subsequent grammar schools will then concentrate on real academic subjects, such as maths, foreign languages, science, history, philosophy and theology – while secondary moderns will put more of an emphasis on skills useful in various trades.

Undoing half a century’s worth of educational subversion indeed must have taken much courage, and Miss Greening ought to be applauded. But alas that’s not at all what she announced.

Instead she vouchsafed to the gasping populace the invaluable information that she’s lesbian. That’s what to her isn’t only fine but ‘better than fine’.

Coming out, Miss Greening continued, was “the best thing I’ve done in many, many, many a year. And actually it gets better every day.” If so, her girlfriend should receive our congratulations, and British children our condolences. If the best thing the person in charge of education has done is airing her sexual proclivities, the tots are in big trouble.

A few questions are in order. Such as, why announce it at all? Most people, especially those reaping the harvest of our brain-washing comprehensive education, see nothing wrong in this or any other aberrant sexuality.

For them, the announcement is at best uninteresting. For others, those fossils who stubbornly stick to the standards accepted in our civilisation since Romans 1: 24-27 or, even further back, Leviticus 20: 13, Miss Greening’s confident and courageous revelation will sound mildly irritating.

So what’s the point? Miss Greening’s own explanation is rather unsatisfactory: “I needed to be true to myself about who I am, and I also felt I did and I do have a responsibility to the broader LGBT community.”

You don’t, love. You have a responsibility to your constituency and a broader one to your country, whose future largely depends on preparing children for adulthood. Let the ‘LGBT community’ look after itself; it has been doing rather well in that department lately, homomarriage and all.

According to Miss Greening, her aim was also to educate, as it were, her parliamentary colleagues: “You will only ever normalise this frankly when nobody is in Parliament feeling it is something they need to not be clear about. It does not and should not matter, but the reality is, for too many politicians they feel like it really does.”

I’d suggest that nobody expressing herself with such disregard for style and grammar is fit to be Education Secretary, but that’s a separate matter. At least now we’re getting warmer: Miss Greening’s reasons for her newly acquired honesty probably were indeed political.

Exactly what they were I don’t know. Perhaps her boss told her that, if she wanted to keep her cabinet position, she should come out before the opposition drags her out. Or else that her upmarket Putney constituency would regard sexual deviancy as a plus rather than a minus.

The earth-shattering announcement was first made last summer, attracting no attention whatsoever. Could it be that Miss Greening chose, or was instructed, to revive the issue in time for the snap election on 8 June?

Possible. I just hope that she doesn’t really regret, as she has indicated, the absence of homosexual role models at school: “I think it would have been really helpful for people like me growing up.” It would have been more helpful for all sorts of people to learn how to write English properly.

A lunatic in charge of the asylum. An arsonist running a fire brigade. And Justine Greening as Education Secretary.

Putin’s new idol

Say what you will about state control over the media, but it offers one undeniable benefit: by watching, say, a state TV channel, outsiders can learn exactly what the sponsoring government is thinking.

Extrapolating ever so slightly, outsiders can also learn what the sponsoring government is – if they wish to learn, that is.

Putin’s Westerns fans demonstrably don’t fall into the category of such inquisitive souls. However, the rest of you may be curious to know how Putin’s government, speaking through its official mouthpieces, comments on the mounting tension in the Far East.

The mouthpieces in question are Vladimir Soloviov, who hosts an almost daily TV talk show on Rossiya 1, and Dmitri Kisilev, a weekly presence on the same channel, whom the Russians affectionately call ‘Putin’s Goebbels’.

Here – without my comments and in no particular order – is what the viewers of their shows heard on the same day, 16 April.

“Deng Xiaoping… sorted out the Tiananmen brouhaha brutally, and quite right too.”

“They send the troops in. Four hundred thousand! Tanks! There was a horrible carnage, several thousand died. But a wonderful China emerged as a result!”

“Does it bother America that, as a result of her actions, North Korea may obliterate South Korea? Quite the opposite: that would be one economic competitor less. Same thing with Japan – they don’ care about it. They’ll just rebuild it afterwards – and make out like bandits.”

“Americans pretend to support democracy, but where were masses of people blacklisted for ideological deviations? In America during McCarthyism! They deported Charlie Chaplin, Albert Einstein and Leonard Bernstein.” [I promised no commentary but, just to keep the record straight, Messrs Einstein and Bernstein suffered no such fate. But hey, what are facts if the story’s good?]

“Gorbachev was incapable of pulling the nuclear trigger – Putin can do it. That’s why, even though we’re weaker economically, we can withstand any pressure.”

“The North Koreans once had to hide their rocket, so they cut a huge tunnel through rock – in one night and with pickaxes. That’s how motivated their soldiers are!”

“We realise anyway that they [US] don’t understand any other language: we must arm ourselves and our partners. And I wouldn’t say they won’t attack: they have lots of missiles. So the Koreans are replying properly: you touch us, we’ll respond.”

“Let Seoul and Pyongyang go up in smoke – the country will be united!”

“North Koreans have created a unique society, consolidating within itself the energy of victory over the whole mankind… Theirs is an apostolic army that will unite Korea.”

“North Korea will start the fighting, then we’ll deliver a preemptive strike – and there goes your vaunted America! I’d also pull Chinese troops to the 38th parallel…”

“Kim hasn’t sent an armada to the shores of America. Donald Trump sent a carrier strike group to North Korea, adding he’s ready to send in nuclear subs as well.”

“Kim hasn’t committed a single aggressive act towards any other country. His missile may have been launched but never at specific military targets. However, Donald Trump launched missiles at Syria… Thus Trump is more impulsive and unpredictable than Kim.”

“North Koreans are demonstrating their latest achievement, the Naro-2 missile. It’s capable, they say, of reaching the US bases in Guam and Hawaii. Their Vice-Marshal says: ‘If America stages a provocation, we’ll immediately respond with a devastating attack. Total war in response to total war, a nuclear strike in response to a nuclear strike’.”

“The parade in Kim Il Sung Square is the pride of every North Korean. The moment the North Korean leader appears on the dais, the square explodes in applause. The party leaders rise to their feet, the people weep and shout. This year is particularly festive: it’s the 105th anniversary of Kim Il Sung’s birth, the founder of the republic who even 23 years after his death still holds the post of eternal chairman. Units of the North Korean army are marching past the stand of the party leaders. Traditional world-renowned Korean goose-stepping, with a slight hop. Amazing synchronicity and so powerful that the earth appears to be shaking. Only the best of North Korea’s 1.3 million soldiers are in this square.”

“North Korea life is unique, based on Kim Il Sung’s ideology and the ideas of so-called juche. Its most important part is an original way of life with powerful centralisation, a huge public sector in the economy, official atheism and – most important – self-reliance. North Korea is based on the communist principle: from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”

“If you want to know my opinion, Trump is more dangerous than Kim Jong-un.”

“From their childhood North Koreans are imbued with the certainty that Pyongyang can defend itself. The North Korean army is regarded as one of the world’s strongest.”

“Great North Korea is a wonderful country that punched the USA in the snout.”

This, and only this, is what the Russians hear round the clock, day in, day out. Such rhetoric and tone haven’t been heard there since 1953, when another great leader, Stalin, died – bequeathing, unbeknown to himself, the country to a one-year-old baby who’d grow up to see Kim as his best friend and role model.

Let the English be English

Traditionally, an Englishman doesn’t wear his heart on his sleeve because he knows that organ will eventually be caked in grime.

In fact, one of the most endearing characteristics of Englishness is emotional restraint, reluctance to pour one’s heart out into a willing, or at a pinch unwilling, ear.

This is closely linked to another innate English trait: respect for the individual. A problem shared is a problem doubled, is the implicit understanding.

Others have enough problems of their own; why should I burden, possibly embarrass, them with mine? Their privacy (a word, incidentally, that exists in neither Russian nor French) is more important than my urge to communicate.

Not for the English the Russian habit of sharing innermost feelings with all and sundry on those interminable train rides. Not for the English the American custom of talking to bartenders and fellow drinkers about personal concerns, large or small – loudly, on the assumption that everyone within earshot will be keenly interested. After all, all men are created equally interesting.

This has nothing to do with inner warmth and capacity for friendship. In the good old days after which so many Russians are hankering, cardiac outpourings were routinely reported to the KGB. And the same American who talks about his wife’s frigidity to strangers may never invite a neighbour of 10 years over for a drink.

Traditional English traits are exactly the ones modernity is busily trying to expunge. The English aren’t supposed to be English any longer. They’re expected to go against their nature to emulate lachrymose Russian incontinence and loudmouth American effusiveness.

The quintessential English stiff upper lip is now seen not as an admirable quality to be praised but as a psychological problem to be solved. Psychobabble has infected the English language, making a mockery of it and perverting the English character.

Englishness itself is under assault, and its last bastions are crumbling away. For even the royal family, whose principal function should be upholding traditional continuity, have become turncoats joining the enemy.

First it was Harry sharing with every media outlet his grief over his mother’s death. His Sensitive Highness had struggled to come to terms with that tragedy for 20 years until finally getting counselling. Presumably he’s sorted now, but crestfallen about his countrymen’s reluctance to attend group sessions. HRH stopped just short of advertising his therapist: “Just tell him Harry sent you, he’ll give you a good deal.”

I wonder if 602 years ago his royal namesake had to talk to some mountebank shrink about the tragedy of having been responsible for so many deaths at Agincourt and his resulting erectile dysfunction. Probably not: progress hadn’t yet arrived.

The English hadn’t yet learned about the post-traumatic stress disorder for which not only today’s soldiers but even war reporters have to be treated. They just got on with their lives and kept their emotions to themselves.

Now Harry’s elder brother Will has joined the battle to put an end to the ‘stiff upper lip’ culture. He promises his children, our future king among them, will “grow up feeling able to talk about their emotions”.

Mental health charities, which in common with most other charities today serve mainly their own administrators, are ecstatic. But then they would be, wouldn’t they?

William, along with his father and brother, makes me reassess my belief that the royals should have a say in government. If all they can say is sentimental rubbish, perhaps they’re better off silent.

To wit: “Successful, strong people don’t suffer like that, do they? But of course – we all do. It’s just that few of us speak about it.”

HRH obviously counts himself among the successful and strong, which betokens laudable self-confidence. But I’d rather he kept his wounded soul and bleeding heart to himself, instead of exposing them to millions of people.

Share your little tragedies, most of them trumped up, with your family and friends, Will, and spare the rest of us those tasteless displays. Learn from your grandparents; they do have something valuable to teach you.

The prince also speaks of his children and the determination he shares with his wife that they will be able to share their feelings urbi et orbi.

His hope is growing “that things are changing and that there is a generation coming up who find it normal to talk openly about their emotions. Emotional intelligence is key for us all to deal with the complexities of life and relationships.”

I’d suggest doing some more work on developing cerebral intelligence. That would help HRH realise that there’s no such thing as emotional intelligence, certainly not the kind that’s manifested through gushing sentimental incontinence.

But then he and his brother are modern men with their ears attuned to the Zeitgeist, which they perceive in every tonal detail. And the dominant tune is solipsism run riot. Nothing higher than self exists, which makes the tiniest quirks of the self’s psyche all-important not only to self but to mankind.

Unable to think, modern men pride themselves on their enhanced capacity to feel, not realising that they’ve replaced sentiment with sentimentality, emotions with emotiveness – and Englishness with a bad caricature of foreign character and alien mores.


Happy Easter!

This is what I wish my readers on this most joyous day of the year – regardless of whether or not they are Christians, or what kind of Christians.

In fact, I have, among my friends, readers and reader-friends, Christians of every conceivable confession, Jews, atheists and agnostics.

The last two are a distinction without a difference, but there is enough in this event even for non-believers to celebrate, for without it our civilisation wouldn’t exist, and my readers and friends, whatever their faith, are civilised people.

Since they’re also intelligent, they realise that without Easter our world would be a different place and, for all our complaints and laments, not nearly as glorious a place. For here in the West the only alternative to Christian culture is none.

Speaking of our glorious world, my readers come from every corner of it, and – though they all self-evidently speak English – the words even strangers traditionally exchange on this day must sound more joyous to them in their mother tongue.

So Happy Easter, wherever you are – even if you celebrate Christ’s Resurrection on a different day or not at all:

Christ is risen!

Le Christ est ressuscité!

Christus ist auferstanden!

Cristo ha resucitado!

Cristo è risorto!

Kristus on üles tõusnud!

Kristus er oppstanden!

Xристос воскрес!

Chrystus zmartwychwstał!

Kristus vstal z mrtvých!

Cristo ressuscitou!

Kristus ir augšāmcēlies!

Christus is verrezen!

Χριστὸς ἀνέστη!

Krisztus feltámadt!

Kristus är uppstånden!

Kristus prisikėlė!

Kristus nousi kuolleista!

Hristos a înviat!


Liverpudlians are a race apart

Columnist Kelvin MacKenzie, former editor of the Sun, is in scalding hot water. So far he has only been suspended. Yet no one would be surprised if he were sent down (the death penalty is no longer an option).

Mr MacKenzie has committed the ultimate crime: racism. Actually, perhaps racism is only a penultimate crime, beaten to the top honours by either homophobia or misogyny, sexism or criticism of the NHS.

But then any worshipper at the altar of share-care-be-aware rectitude can safely assume that MacKenzie, that antediluvian vermin, is guilty of those crimes as well – they’re always packaged together.

It pains me to describe the heinous crime committed by this reprobate. But I want you to see for yourself the depth of depravity into which a racist can sink.

This vermin was writing about the footballer Ross Barkley, who had just been punched out in a nightclub for fancying the wrong girl. Rather than commiserating with the midfielder, MacKenzie wrote:

“[Barkley is] one of our dimmest footballers… [His eyes make one] certain not only are the lights not on, there is definitely nobody at home… I get a similar feeling when seeing a gorilla at the zoo… [Those on similar] pay packets in Liverpool don’t go to nightclubs because they are drug dealers serving time at Her Majesty’s pleasure.”

Are you appalled at the beastly racism of this passage? No? Then you don’t realise – and neither did MacKenzie nor indeed I – that Barkley has a Nigerian grandfather. Since he looks as white as anybody, you and I can be forgiven for not knowing. But MacKenzie should have investigated Barkley’s entire lineage before comparing him to a gorilla.

I don’t know if Mr MacKenzie follows football closely. I do – yet it has never crossed my mind, and neither have I read in any football column or interview, that Barkley is mixed race.

If he were impeccably white, as Mr MacKenzie thought he was, the comparison wouldn’t have constituted a capital crime. For example, I think the Russian boxer Nikolai Valuyev looks positively simian, but that doesn’t make me a racist, only one in possession of sound aesthetic and zoological judgement.

Acting in the recently prescribed manner, Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson reported the article to the police. And, as Mr Anderson explained, this was a crime committed not just against the footballer but against the whole city:

“Not only is it racist in a sense that he is of mixed-race descent, equally it’s a racial stereotype of Liverpool.”

That made me reread the offensive piece looking for a specifically racial slur on Liverpool’s sterling reputation. Fair enough, Mr MacKenzie alluded to the city’s low average income and the possibility that dealing in drugs was the only way for a Liverpudlian to raise above that level.

But he didn’t suggest that Liverpool is racially different from any other city, nor that drug dealers there are black. So, although what he wrote can be construed as a stereotypical slur on Liverpool, it’s certainly not a racial slur.

I’m not even sure it was a slur at all, considering that Mr MacKenzie’s picture of Liverpool isn’t without a factual foundation. In the quality of life ranking Liverpool finds itself close to the bottom, at 110.

Cruel football fans, especially in affluent London, don’t mind mocking Liverpool’s plight in their chants. Liverpool Football Club’s song is “You’ll never walk alone”. Whenever the team plays a London club, malicious home supporters sing “You’ll never work again” to the same tune.

Anyway, this isn’t the only geographical or ethnic stereotype heard around the world: most people like their stereotypes with or without racial connotations.

Poles have a certain reputation for thickness in the US; the Irish, in England; Belgians in both Holland and France; Georgians in Russia – and so forth. I’m sure none of those stereotypes is meant to be offensive or completely factual. It’s just for fun.

Yet once Mr Anderson got on his high horse, there was no dismounting. Apology, he said, is “simply not enough” and then, displaying an enviable command of jurisprudence: “ignorance simply cannot be used as a defence”.

What would be enough? Summary execution? At least Mr Anderson isn’t alone: he can count on support coming from such unimpeachable judges of morality as another footballer Joey Barton, who tweeted: “Those comments about Ross Barkley, a young working-class lad, are disgusting. Then add in the fact he is mixed race! It becomes outrageous.”

So Mr MacKenzie isn’t only a racist but a classist as well. (Is that a word? If not, it should be.)

Now some may question Barton’s qualifications for passing moral judgement. He boasts two charges of violence, such as stabbing a lit cigar into a man’s eye. He was once sentenced to six months and the other time received a suspended sentence. In addition, Barton has been charged three times by the Football Association for violent conduct, the last time for pluckily attacking three players.

A perfect advocate for good behaviour in other words, as is another footballer Stan Collymore, who tweeted: “Implied racism at its finest.”

At least there was nothing implicit about Mr Collymore’s own transgressions. Once he publicly rearranged the pretty face of his girlfriend Ulrika Jonsson for flirting with another man; on another occasion he was involved in a widely publicised incident of dogging (I expect my readers to know what that is). Worst of all, he’s a republican.

But Mr MacKenzie is being attacked not just by dim-witted politicians and violent footballers. He’s being slain by the vengeful and wrathful god of modernity, and that deity knows no mercy.

Am I the only one thinking the world has gone mad?

Russia attacks Britain

It’s a basic fact of diplomacy that an attack on a country’s ambassador is tantamount to an attack on the country.

When one diplomat insults another, the issue isn’t between two men but between two countries. A diplomat isn’t the one talking; it’s his government that talks through him.

This tradition goes back a long time, and it has been maintained by even less civilised peoples, such as the medieval Mongols.

Killing or blinding another country’s ambassador was their routine method of declaring war: a point of no return was thus reached. Conversely, if they sent a parley to a besieged town, and the parley would be returned in a shop-worn condition or not at all, they’d capture the town and massacre everyone inside. Diplomatic protocol had to be enforced.

The Mongols’ cultural heirs, the Russians, are well aware of this heritage but tend to ignore it. Specifically, their diplomats don’t seem to realise that insulting their British counterparts constitutes a casus belli, and we’re too weak-kneed to remind them.

The case in point: the other day, at a session of the UN Security Council, Russia’s deputy ambassador Vladimir Safronkov attacked the British ambassador Matthew Rycroft, and through him Britain.

Safronkov took exception to the objections Rycroft had voiced towards Russia’s continued support of Assad and, by association, his use of sarin.

Fair enough, it’s his job to oppose the West on this issue – and increasingly any other. This doesn’t ipso facto constitute an attack. But the unconscionably rude form in which it was expressed most definitely does.

Jabbing a finger at Mr Rycroft, the Russian thug screamed: “Look at me when I’m talking to you! Don’t you look away! Why are you looking away?!? …Don’t you dare insult Russia again!!!” This sounds rude enough even in the English translation, but in Russian the tirade is sheer thuggery.

Alas, back in the seventeenth century English lost the very useful distinction between ‘thou’ and ‘you’, which exists in all European languages, including Russian (ты and вы). A plethora of telling nuances were thereby lost as well.

The second person singular ты is used when talking to family, friends, children and – by uncouth people – to waiters and taxi drivers. When an adult stranger is addressed as ты, rather than вы, he perceives this as rude (sometimes as a downright insult), and the speaker as a lout.

For one diplomat to address another that way in an official capacity is unimaginable. But then nothing is unimaginable in a country run by a fusion of mafia and KGB thugs. Safrinkov proved that by using the ты form when sputtering spittle at our man.

At least Safronkov didn’t bang his shoe on the table, like Khrushchev, nor use any obscenities, like his boss, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

For example, Lavrov swore at Blair’s Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who had dared to suggest that human rights in Russia could be a bit more robust. Safronkov’s spiritual guru replied: “Who the f*** are you to lecture me?” Considering that he can hardly put a grammatical sentence together, his use of colloquialisms is remarkable.

“Her Majesty’s Foreign Secretary”, should have been the answer to that one, followed by a threat to sever diplomatic relations unless abject apologies were immediately offered. In the past such a demand would have been made – and supported by cannon boats. But these days street thugs can swear at ministers of the Crown with impunity.

Lavrov’s boss Putin also tends to express himself in the underworld jargon, which is par for the course. He himself has described his youth as that of a “common Petersburg thug” – and that was before he joined the KGB and purloined billions.

The opposition writer Igor Yakovenko, widely regarded as Russia’s best journalist, has written a perceptive piece explaining how Russia’s linguistic landscape is dominated by the watchtowers of prisons and concentration camps.

He points out that the population constantly circulates ‘in’ and ‘out’. Today, he writes, a fourth of Russian men have been behind bars at some time, with a devastating effect on the language.

Even reasonably cultured native speakers, and I include myself in that number, often use underworld slang. But reasonably cultured native speakers don’t ascend to government posts in Russia. Only thugs like Safronkov do.

Incidentally, having thus demonstrated his subtle understanding of Russia, an asset that’s almost impossible for a non-native to acquire, Yakovenko then went on to demonstrate his ignorance of the West, a weakness that’s almost impossible for a native Russian to avoid.

He referred to the injured party as “Sir Matthew Rycroft”, explaining that he is “a knight-commander of the Order of the British Empire, and they have a custom that a knight-commander becomes a ‘sir’ straight away.”

Eh, not quite. One has to be knighted to be called ‘sir’, and an OBE (in Mr Rycroft’s case, a CBE) isn’t a knighthood. There’s no reason for a Russian journalist to be familiar with the British honours system, but one should be aware of one’s limitations and try to keep one’s foot out of one’s mouth.

Alas, this is only a small part of it. For the Russians, including talented and erudite ones like Mr Yakovenko, are ignorant not only of British social protocol but of the West in general. That’s why they invariably come a cropper when trying to transplant Western political and economic models into Russia’s soil.

That soil rejects them every time, for it’s overgrown with the weeds of Byzantine and Mongol mentality. The weeds, lovingly tended by the louts known as the Russian government, suffocate the thin growth of civilised people who are getting fewer and fewer.

Le style,” said Buffon, “c’est l’homme même”. The style is the man. True. And also the country.

My apologies to the Trumps

I unequivocally and unreservedly apologise to Mr and Mrs Trump on my own behalf and also on that of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, although its government has denied me the requisite authorisation to act as its representative.

However, since Mrs Donald Trump – or Mrs Melania Trump, as modern decorum demands she be called – has been libelled by the British newspaper to which I am a regular subscriber and erstwhile contributor, and since the newspaper in question trades in the country of whose monarch I am a subject, I accept part of the blame, if only vicariously, while, for reasons of penury, hastening to disabuse Mrs Trump of any intention of demanding a sizeable compensation.

The unnamed newspaper in question has inadvertently alleged that, during her illustrious and pristine modelling career, Mrs Melania-Donald Trump, hereinafter referred to as ‘Melania’, complemented her otherwise meagre earnings by regularly performing fellatio (aka escort services) for fiscal remuneration.

The newspaper has emphatically disavowed said allegations, stating with no equivocation that throughout her modelling career Melania was even unaware of the word ‘fellatio’ and ignorant of the very existence of such a practice. Even assuming against all evidence and common sense that she might have had hearsay knowledge of fellatio as a word and a practice, I hereby emphatically disavow any allegation that she either engaged in fellatio (aka escort services) or sought material recompense for doing so.

In addition to seeking forgiveness on behalf of those who have lamentably denied me the authorisation to act on their behalf, I both retract and withdraw the implicit allegation that fellatio, or indeed cunnilingus, is a necessary, or indeed widespread, expedient for securing a successful career as either a female or a male model. The profession of female or male modelling is an honourable occupation known for its unimpeachable standards of decorous behaviour, modesty and chastity.

Hence I apologise to Melania, and by implication to all practitioners of this morally infallible profession, for having been inadvertent if vicarious party to the unfounded allegations that the widely circulated photographs of Melania in bed with nothing but another unclothed female (naked woman) wrapped around her suggested in any way some prior or subsequent impropriety involving or not, as the case may be, sexual congress, to wit cunnilingus.

I state unreservedly that said photograph (along with numerous other photographs of Melania taken in the artistic style known in her adopted country as T&A) was taken for artistic purposes only and with no intention of evoking any prurient or salacious associations. I must reiterate that, until her marriage to Mr Trump, hereinafter referred to as ‘the Donald’, Melania had had no knowledge of either fellatio or cunnilingus as practices or indeed terms, and was in fact a virgin who, even assuming with no evidential support that she might have engaged prenuptially in some innocuous amorous activity, never regarded said activity as a service calling for pecuniary compensation.

However, and this may partly explain the most unfortunate misapprehension, rather than having engaged in, or indeed been familiar with, the practice of fellatio prenuptially, Melania was, and remains, an avid practitioner of philately, a consonant homophonic (as opposed to homophobic and distinct from homosexual) term that might have been responsible for the ensuing confusion for which I apologise on behalf of the unnamed newspaper and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

I also apologise, with the same absence of any misconstruable equivocation, to the Donald for having inadvertently, yet with no malice aforethought, described him as a crude, vulgar nincompoop out of his depth, as witnessed by the fact that he regarded NATO as obsolete.

In actual fact, the Donald is a subtle, decisive and resolute statesman who clearly and unreservedly acknowledges that NATO is not at all obsolete and has a vitally important role to play, that of combating terrorism, money laundering (unless originated in Russia) and street crime, and maintaining the required ecological standards of ambient air in all three worlds and beyond.

While acknowledging that NATO was founded for none of those purposes, but rather for the purpose of countering the Soviet threat, as the Russian threat then was, the Donald – who I now acknowledge is emphatically not a crude, vulgar nincompoop out of his depth – points out with unquestionable validity that the Soviet Union no longer exists and therefore can present no threat. Neither does Russia present any threat because the Donald possesses personal knowledge of Mr (aka Col.) Putin with whom he has had many mutually beneficial dealings and shared innumerable generously lubricated repasts.

Hence, for NATO to emerge out of the obsolescence in which it has hitherto languished, it has to take on the new and additional roles outlined by the Donald with his usual foresight and depth of geopolitical thought. Therefore I reiterate my apologies while unequivocally, unreservedly and hurriedly withdrawing my prior inadvertent description of the Donald as a crude, vulgar nincompoop out of his depth.

I hope Mr and Mrs Melania/Donald Trump will generously accept my apologies on my own behalf and also on that of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

What about today’s concentration camps?

What a sensitive lot we’ve become. An incautious word can pierce our thin skin all the way to the internal organs.

When that happens, adrenalin begins to pump, our fists pound on the table as if by themselves, we roll on the floor frothing at the mouth and demanding instant restitution.

Steel hooks are embedded into the bottom of every verbal waterway negotiated by public figures, and one has to admire those who manage not to get impaled – while treating with compassion those whose navigation skills let them down.

One of those steel hooks caught White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who may or may not be a Holocaust denier. And nothing he said leads to the conclusion one way or the other.

Explaining the decision to spank Assad with Tomahawks, he pointed out that even Hitler didn’t use chemical weapons on his own people. What Mr Spicer clearly meant was that Hitler didn’t drop gas shells on his enemies.

I’m sure he’s aware of the Holocaust, some of which was perpetrated with Zyklon B. There’s no reason to believe he either approves of that crime or questions that it occurred. What got him in trouble was a semantic conundrum over what constitutes a weapon.

Even those more linguistically sophisticated than Mr Spicer would be ill-advised to join this argument. For example, some of Hitler’s enemies were garrotted with piano wire. It thus acted as an execution tool, but was it a weapon? Would a plastic bag be a weapon if used to suffocate a victim? Would a pillow?

It could be argued that a weapon is something used in a military, or at least paramilitary, situation, the way Assad used poison gas and Hitler didn’t. Or, if such is our wont, we may wish to expand the meaning of the word to include anything used to kill people: a gas cooker, a pencil, a champagne bottle, you name it.

Mr Spicer clearly hadn’t pondered such subtleties before speaking and perhaps he should have done. But the ensuing outcry is totally out of proportion to the indiscretion. The shrill, gratuitous attacks on Spicer are like imprisoning someone for jaywalking.

Stephen Goldstein of the Anne Frank Centre described Spicer’s slip of the tongue as “the most evil slur upon a group of people” ever uttered by a White House Press Secretary. Mr Goldstein should calm down, have his blood pressure checked and realise that Mr Spicer is no David Irving, and nor did he say anything that should lead one to believe that he is.

All those who, unsatisfied with Mr Spicer’s grovelling apologies, are clamouring for his head should find a different conduit for their righteous indignation. May I suggest Putin’s Chechen stooge Ramzan Kadyrov, who has set up concentration camps for homosexuals, another group treated with Hitler’s Zyklon B?

“Like priest, like parish,” say the Russians, and Kadyrov, installed as Chechnya’s chieftain by Putin, is worthy of his godfather.

He’s a gangster personally implicated in murder, kidnapping and torture. Putin used this Quisling to quell the Chechen rebellion against Russian rule that started more than two centuries ago and has never really abated.

As payment for this service, Kadyrov has received the freedom of not only Chechnya but also of Moscow, where his mafia outshines the local thugs in front of the authorities’ safely shut eyes. By way of reciprocity, Kadyrov provides the odd ‘whacking’ service for his patron, as he evidently did with the murder of the opposition politician Boris Nemtsov.

Now this upstanding individual has decided to emulate Hitler, albeit so far on a smaller scale. At least 100 homosexuals have been rounded up in Chechnya, put in a concentration camp and given a free choice between leaving the republic quickly or dying slowly.

Indecisive souls a bit slow on the uptake are helped along with torture, electric shocks and beatings. Reports say three of them have been beaten to death. The actual number is probably greater.

The detainees aren’t just tortured for the hell of it. Kadyrov’s thugs demand that they reveal the names of other homosexuals, so they too can be beaten or killed. Extortion is a side benefit too, with many homosexuals only surviving by paying protection money every month.

Kadyrov’s thugs are quite advanced technologically, which is what progress is all about. They use social media to seduce homosexuals and then arrest them when they turn up for dates, presumably bearing flowers and chocolates.

Mr Artemiev, Amnesty International spokesman, says that: “The problem is people there cannot talk about it as it puts their lives and those they speak to, in danger. This is the main issue we are facing in Russia and the main challenge.”

But it’s not the main issue for American and our own PC-mad fanatics. For them, Sean Spicer’s crime is far greater.

After all, he’s neither Russian nor Chechen. Those people don’t know any better than turning the whole country into a nuclear-armed criminal gang practising murder and torture in concentration camps – they’re like naughty children.

But Mr Spicer is a grown up who should know not to speak out of turn. He ought to remember that an offence is anything anybody says it is. And punishment may be anything anyone demands.

Was France responsible?

Speaking specifically of the 1942 round-up of more than 13,000 Jews in Paris, Marine Le Pen said: “I don’t think France was responsible… generally speaking, it’s those who were in power at the time.”

I tend to agree with her: ‘generally speaking’, I’m uneasy with the notion of collective responsibility, especially when a collective numbers in millions.

Yet speaking generally isn’t always the best way of approaching a specific issue. In this case, blanket exoneration doesn’t work much better than blanket castigation.

Evil mass ideologies inspire mass murder – regardless of the ideology’s hue. It may be red, as in communism. Brown, as in Nazism. Black, as in fascism. Green, as in Islam. This doesn’t matter: the blood of victims running into the ground remains the same universal red.

Blaming carnage on the inspiring ideology isn’t only natural but logical. Yet equally logical is blaming those who accept the ideology, even if they personally didn’t kill anybody.

They’re all guilty, by association if not by commission. And the higher the proportion of such associates, the more headway will the ideology make.

The Nazi ideology called for the extermination of the Jews – officially, from 1942, when the Wannsee Protocol came into effect; unofficially, since 1925, when Hitler conveyed his innermost feelings in Mein Kampf.

Thus Jews were rounded up, interned and murdered in every country under Nazi control. But the proportion of those murdered varied from one place to the next. And most variations depended on the overall attitude of the local population.

Only 1.5 per cent of the Jews were killed in Denmark, while in Norway, its similar neighbour, this proportion was 55 per cent. In Estonia, the proportion was 35 per cent; next door in Lithuania, 94 per cent. And Holland, at 76 per cent, outdid Germany itself, at 55.

(Part of the reason the Nazis sited most of the death camps in Eastern Europe, rather than in Germany or elsewhere in Western Europe, was their fear that the locals would be aghast.)

Continuing on the road to specificity, 90,000 Jews were murdered in France, 26 per cent of the Jewish population, a lower proportion than in occupied Greece (80 per cent) but higher than in fascist Italy (20 per cent, most of them killed after the German occupation).

Marine Le Pen only exculpated France from the 13,000 rounded up in Paris, leaving the contextual possibility that she holds France responsible for the balance of 77,000 – probably not the implication she wanted to convey.

Here it’s important to recall that for the first two years after France’s defeat the Germans occupied only the northern part of the country. The rest was administered out of Vichy by a fascist government run by Pierre Laval and fronted by the senescent Marshal Pétain.

The government was hugely popular: when Pétain spoke, thousands roared Maréchal, nous voilà!!! with the same gusto with which the Germans screamed Heil Hitler!!!

The parallel went further than public hysteria. By Pétain’s decree, Vichy France spontaneously enacted anti-Jewish laws in 1940 and 1941 – before the Germans demanded it. These laws were stricter than the Italian equivalent introduced in occupied Nice. As a result, 40,000 Jews were interned in Vichy; few of them survived the war.

(It’s telling that before the Le Pens, père et fille, the only major politician exonerating France of any blame was the socialist President François Mitterrand, himself a decorated official in the Vichy government. Like Laval and the Le Pens, he was living proof of the kinship between fascism and socialism.)

Why did the technically free part of France collaborate with the Holocaust more avidly than Denmark, first a German protectorate and then fully occupied? This format doesn’t allow analysing this in any detail: there were too many contributing factors.

No doubt French society was greatly demoralised by years of Popular Front subversion largely directed out of Moscow through the Comintern. The crushing defeat by the Germans also played a dispiriting role, especially since a key constituent of the Popular Front, the Communist Party, welcomed it – after all, Nazi Germany was at the time allied with Stalin’s Russia.

The list of possible explanations could be long, but surely finding a place on it would be the simple fact that the French are, certainly were at the time, more anti-Semitic than the Danes. At least since the Dreyfus Affair – that lasted 12 years – France had been bitterly divided by the issue of anti-Semitism.

Even now a recent survey shows that 59 per cent of the French believe that Jews have only themselves to blame for anti-Semitism. Over half say the Jews have too much power and money, while 13 per cent think that the current one per cent of Jews in the population is too high. Should an evil regime take over, this could be a fertile soil in which to plant the saplings of mass murder.

I’m neither agreeing nor disagreeing with Marine Le Pen – only suggesting that this issue doesn’t lend itself to simplistic reductions. It’s also useful to remember that evil regimes neither appear nor operate in a vacuum. The ambient air has to be conducive.

Happy Passover to all my Jewish readers!

Egyptian Muslims kill Christians, we kill Christianity

Muslim attacks on two Coptic churches in Egypt left at least 44 dead. As we pray for those victims, we must remember they aren’t just victims. They are martyrs.

They went to their martyrdom with humble resignation, rendering their souls to God. They knew in advance that living for their faith in the Islamic world meant they might one day die for it.

They accepted that with bowed heads. They knew that, even as there’s death in life, there’s life in death. They also knew that Christianity was not only weaned on the blood of martyrs but in fact born out of it. “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church,” as Tertullian wrote.

Their deaths, while unimaginably awful for their friends, families and brothers in Christ, served their faith by making it deeper – and their church by making it stronger.

Contrast that with the obscene travesty of Christianity widely practised within all European confessions, emphatically including the Church of England.

A recent poll shows that a quarter of British people who, when filling forms, routinely identify themselves as C of E, don’t believe in the Resurrection of Christ. Only 31 per cent believe the NT account unequivocally.

One has to realise that the word ‘Christian’, as commonly used, shares the modern fate of so many other terms, that of denoting something that has nothing to do with its real meaning.

A Christian is someone who believes in the Holy Trinity, one of whose hypostases incarnated as fully God and fully man. He died a martyr’s death on the cross to redeem our sins, then rose on the third day and went to heaven, where he will remain until he comes again to judge the quick and the dead.

That’s all. There are numerous other, derivative characteristics of a Christian, moral, sacramental, ecclesiastical and so forth. Some of them leave room for interpretation and disagreement. But this one doesn’t. It’s a sine qua non.

Someone who doesn’t believe in it may still be a lovely person, kind, just, generous, charitable – choose your own attribute. But one thing he can’t be is a Christian. He doesn’t fit the definition.

For those putative Christians this is too simple to understand. One such was Leo Tolstoy, who, having written sublime novels, proceeded to excrete 50 volumes of unmitigated drivel, most of it aiming to redefine Christianity (in the spirit of crass commercialism, may I suggest my own book on this subject, God and Man According to Tolstoy).

The Orthodox Church excommunicated Tolstoy for his heresies. Today’s Anglican Church not only welcomes such nonsense but in fact propagates it itself.

Hence the Rev Lorraine Cavanagh, acting general secretary for Modern Church, a champion of ‘liberal Christian theology’ (which is neither liberal nor Christian nor theological):

“An adult faith requires that it be constantly questioned, constantly reinterpreted. To ask an adult to believe in the Resurrection the way they did at Sunday school simply won’t do and that’s true of much of the key elements of the Christian faith.”

I wonder if the Rev Lorraine (an oxymoronic title by the way) has read Tolstoy’s response to having been excommunicated by the Holy Synod in 1901. I doubt it: she doesn’t strike me as a bookish type. This kind of stuff must simply be in the modern air, for she repeats exactly what Tolstoy wrote, albeit in less robust language.

Remember that this is Tolstoy’s protest against the excommunication. One wonders how different a ringing endorsement would be: “…not only many, but almost all educated people in Russia share my disbelief… [Compare with “An adult faith requires that it be constantly questioned…”]

“That I have rejected the church that calls itself Russian Orthodox is perfectly true… in theory the teaching of the church is a perfidious and harmful lie, while in practice it is a collection of the crudest superstitions and sorcery, hiding completely the entire meaning of Christian teaching… I reject the incomprehensible trinity and the myth, these days meaningless, of the fall of the first man, the blasphemous story of a god born of a virgin to redeem the human race… You say that I reject all the rituals. That is perfectly true… This [the Eucharist] is horrible!”

If only the Rev Lorraine and our other ‘liberal theologians’ had Tolstoy’s literary genius. They’d already have succeeded in killing Christianity in England stone-dead, rather than merely pushing it to the edge of a precipice.

This woman doesn’t even belong in the pews, never mind at the altar. And she’s clearly too feeble-minded to understand what she’s saying.

A chemist who denies that a molecule of water holds two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen is neither questioning nor reinterpreting chemistry. He’s simply proving that, far from being a chemist, he’s someone ignorant of chemistry.

“And fear not them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul…” says the book that, according to her, no adult can any longer believe.

In that sense, the likes of the Rev Lorraine Cavanagh are worse than those Islamic ghouls. The latter can only kill Christians; the former are trying to kill Christianity.

The Coptic martyrs, RIP.