Enjoy your trip, Joe?

“How the mighty have fallen!” is an Old Testament phrase that yet again proves the prophetic power of Holy Scripture.

For there’s no denying that, as president of the United States, Joe Biden is as mighty as they come. Nor is there any doubt that POTUS fell climbing the steps to Air Force One. Moreover, he outdid the biblical Samuel and Saul by falling not just once, but thrice.

Joe’s detractors are having a field day with his little mishap – well, three little mishaps to be exact. Refusing to give the president the benefit of the doubt, they talk about his senility, loss of motor and cognitive abilities and other such failings. One can almost sense the 25th Amendment wafting through the air.

Naysayers! Imbeciles! Gloaters! Republicans! Pharisees! Your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness… but I should stop waxing biblical, even though, as you’ll soon find out, such references are appropriate in this context.

What Joe’s detractors don’t understand is that his actions are full of hidden meaning. They convey an elaborate lattice of intersecting symbols, unravelling for the initiated Joe’s deep thought and political acumen.

For this ostensibly awkward incident must be analysed on different levels. First, it’s wrong to blame the wind for Joe’s misfortune. He may have wind problems, but they are unlikely to make him clutch the railings on the way up.

And yet the wind mustn’t be ignored. For in spite of it Joe did manage to get to the top of the steps, thereby sending a subtle message. The wind of change is picking up, he was implying. It may cause initial discomfort, but it’ll never blow Joe off his charted course towards turning America into a kinder, fairer, more socialist country.

Then Joe’s opponents, especially those who continue to aver that Jesus Christ isn’t just a superstar, attack him on being a rotten Christian. That charge would be defanged by Joe’s admitting that, rather than being a rotten Christian, he’s no Christian at all.

Any one of you simpletons would opt for this copout. Yet Joe insists, stubbornly and truthfully, that he’s a Catholic in good standing. On first glance, that position seems hard to reconcile with his willingness to finance abortion clinics domestically and internationally.

Yet no one grasps the fundamental nature of presidency, the weight of the cross a president has to carry. Some stumbles along the way will happen, but Joe will always pick himself up.

Now who else stumbled three times when carrying his cross? Do you get it now? Joe only pretended to trip thrice, creating thereby a deep symbolic impression of his commitment to carrying his cross in spite of the odd stumble (such as paying for millions of babies to be killed). Those in the know realised that his was a statement redolent of Christian symbolism.

Then of course Joe has a reputation of being a faceless, humourless apparatchik, whose idea of a joke is passing Neil Kinnock’s speech for his own and seeing if anyone would notice. Not so!

Joe exudes knee-slapping humour, except his is of the slapstick, rather than verbal, variety. He is a master of the pratfall, giving Chevy Chase a good run for his money.

In case you forgot (or are too young to know), Chevy, a star of the old Saturday Night Live show, was famous for his opening sequences invariably ending with an acrobatic tumble down the stairs. Having hit the floor, he’d smile and shout: “Live! From New York! It’s Saturday Night!”

I have it on good authority that Joe has always found Chevy to be his inspiration. However, in the planning stages of his own pratfall sequence, his aides talked him out of falling all the way down to the tarmac and screaming: “Live! From DC! It’s POTUS night!”

For one thing, they said, only people close to Joe’s age would get the cultural reference. For another, that would be pushing the joke too far. Just stumbling three times would do the trick, Joe, they insisted. Everyone will see you’re a funny guy. Joe reluctantly agreed to rein in his devastating sense of the absurd and only limited himself to a comic salute at the top of the steps.

Then those pygmies who can’t see the sparkling facets of Joe’s personality, accuse him of senile dementia on the most risible of pretexts. Yes, he, seemingly unintentionally, promoted Kamala by referring to her as “President Harris”. ‘Seemingly’ is the key word there, for this slip was as deliberate as those on the steps.

Joe was simply reinforcing Kamala’s status as both his heiress apparent and his boss actual. For Joe is too busy with metaphysical and thespian pursuits to sully his hands with actually running the country.

He leaves such trivia for Kamala to sort out, and sort them out she does, with flying colours. Some troglodytes hiss that those flying colours feature hammer and sickle superimposed on the stars and stripes, but they would, wouldn’t they?

What else? What other vitriol will those ill-wishers splash out of their acid vials? Oh yes, they make a big deal of Joe’s apparent error in introducing his living and breathing granddaughter Natalie as his late son Beau.

Yet again those vipers fail to see the whole story. Joe was simply commenting on the metaphysical continuity animating the Biden family. All its members share particles of the same soul, which guarantees collective immortality. Beau is dead, Joe was implying, but his soul lives on in Natalie.

Some will sneer that this vision is more Buddhist than Christian, but then a POTUS has to be ecumenical by definition. As the leader of the whole nation, he can’t afford obtuse, Bible-thumping parochialism.

I hope Congress will see fit to amend the Constitution yet again by inaugurating the post of President Emeritus For Life and bestowing this distinction on Joe. Meanwhile President Kamala will continue to do a sterling job running America into the… upper reaches of liberty and prosperity, is what I mean.

So’s your mamma

Oh to be young again… Actually, not that young.

This is me, at an age I last used Putin’s locution

Although I do sometimes feel nostalgic about my lost youth, the golden age flashing through my mind postdates pubescence, by quite a few years. That’s why I’m grateful to my friend Vlad Putin for bringing back memories long since lost.

Responding to Biden’s accusation of being a killer, Vlad used the Russian equivalent of “takes one to know one” (кто так обзывается, тот сам так называется, for the benefit of my Russophone readers). Since no Russian says that past the age of sexual maturation, I felt coochy-coo warmth all over and an urgent desire to dust off my family album (see the photo).

Vlad is clearly trying to get in touch with the child within him, and I do hope he arrests that reversion before the onset of double incontinence. Anyway, since his little bon mot has been widely reported in Western papers, I’m breaking no new ground here.

Yet Vlad speaks not only through his own mouth, but also through those of his house-trained propagandists, many of whom proudly wear the sobriquet of Russian Goebbelses. Their comments are more interesting and, shall we say, grown-up. So I thought I’d translate a few for your benefit.

Andrei Turachak, First Vice Speaker of the Federation Council: “Biden’s statement is simply a triumph of America’s political feeblemindedness and her leader’s senile dementia.”

Military expert Igor Korotchenko: Russia “must increase the number of intelligence stations in the US.” Asked to explain his rationale, the scholar obliged: “To grab’em by the tit.”

Also, he added, “Russia must coordinate her nuclear strategy against the US with China”, eliciting the show host’s counter-suggestion that it would be preferable just to take Alaska back.

Addressing all Americans, Duma Deputy (MP) Zhuravlev diagnosed the nation’s problem: “If you have a moron in power, that means you are all morons.” Asked about an appropriate response, he suggested putting missiles back on Cuba.

Duma Vice Speaker, Pyotr Tolstoy, rivalled the historical erudition of his illustrious ancestor: “They shoved such things down our throats twice before, and we finished our reply in Paris the first time and in Berlin, the second.”

One of the most influential TV ‘Goebbelses’, Vladimir Solovyov, screamed: “This means war! A response is called for, and it must be tough!”

“They are painting a target on our country’s back,” added Solovyov, and he didn’t mean that metaphorically.

Svetlana Zhukova, another MP, must be a lawyer by trade. She submitted that Biden’s accusation of Putin lacked prima facie evidence, adding that this could be “grounds for a criminal prosecution”, presumably for perjury.

Following Biden’s remark, the ruble took a plunge in the currency markets. Waggish Muscovites are wondering whether the dollar would suffer the same fate if Putin levelled a similar accusation at Biden. Verily I say unto you, a sense of humour is the best relief valve – and the only one available to sane Russians.

Meanwhile, in addition to the idiom in the title, I can offer Vlad a few similar retorts he may find handy should Biden speak out of turn again, such as: “Oh yeah?” “Says who?” “Pull the other one”, “Go boil an egg”. Russian translations available upon request.

P.S. While we are on the subject of language, learning English is my lifelong mission. Lately it has been boosted by several new usages I picked up from football commentators, for which I’m eternally grateful. To wit:

Multiple uses of lacksadaisical, much better than the old and tired lackadaisical.

“The importance of this goal can’t be underestimated.” Again multiple uses, suggesting the goal has so little importance it’s unclear why the team bothered to score it in the first place.

“He exerted his right not to take the knee” – a stronger verb than exercised, previously used in such contexts.

“In the absence of the injured players, he picked up the mantelpiece.” If made of marble, that piece of furniture must take much strength to lift.

“… the amount of games left…[goals scored, injured players and some such – countless uses]” I wonder about the number of beer in the chaps’ glasses.

Indeed, a poor boy from downtown Russia has a lot to learn from native speakers.

Biden was wrong to call Putin a ‘killer’

The right word would have been a ‘murderer’, someone who kills criminally. Every murderer is a killer, but not every killer (for example, a soldier) is a murderer.

“It only looks like I’m smiling, Vlad”

I’m glad we’ve cleared up this semantic confusion. But do let’s forgive Joe this little solecism – after all, he learned his oratorial skills from Neil Kinnock. Instead let’s congratulate him on telling the truth.

After four years of Trump’s playing lickspittle to the KGB colonel, Biden’s tough language rang mellifluous, especially since it also included a promise of action. Putin, said Biden, would “pay the price” for meddling in the 2020 presidential election (the 2016 election didn’t get a mention, but let bygones be bygones).

When a US president utters such words, they are never completely empty. They send a diplomatic signal. And the signal is clear: Russia is on notice. Further sanctions are coming, and there will be an escalator built in.

In response, Putin threw his toys out of the pram, that is pulled his ambassador out of Washington. And his loyal poodle Volodin, Speaker of the Duma, explained that insulting Putin means insulting Russia. After all, Russia’s entire landmass fits inside Putin’s chest cavity without remainder, as Volodin explained a few years ago.

When Jen Psaki, Biden’s press secretary, was asked for a clarification, she said her boss “does not hold back on his concerns about what we see as malign and problematic actions” by Russia. Such actions, she added, included not only election interference, but also offering bounties on US soldiers in Afghanistan and the poisoning of Alexei Navalny.

Press conferences are usually brief, so it’s understandable that Miss Psaki was reluctant to provide a full list of Putin’s crimes. Had she done so, the jittery hacks would have missed every conceivable deadline. For the list is long.

A cull of opposition leaders and defectors, for whom even civilised countries can’t provide a safe haven; sustained electronic hacking and sabotage; brutal aggression against sovereign states; turning Western financial institutions (which are themselves complicit in such crimes) into giant laundries for purloined trillions; constant threats of nuclear holocaust; support for every conceivable extremist party in the West; a steady torrent of lying, destabilising propaganda – don’t get me going on this.

In Putin’s blood-stained hands Russia has become a malignant, malevolent presence in the world, an implacable enemy of the West. His kleptofascist junta is outdoing even the Soviets in the perfidy of what the Russian General Staff calls ‘hybrid warfare’.

Unlike Trump, who trusted Putin more than his own intelligence services, Biden seems to vector his faith differently. He looked at the report of the U.S. Director of National Intelligence and accepted its conclusion about the flood of Russian disinformation engulfing the presidential election. 

It has to be said that, though the Russians are incapable of producing their own computers, they operate American and Japanese imports with nothing short of virtuosity. For example, the troll factory in Petersburg churns out over 70,000 lies every day.

It’s owned by Yevgeniy Prigozhin, known as ‘Putin’s chef’ because his catering company supplies Vlad’s official dinners. However, his business interests go far beyond gastronomy. For example, Prigozhin finances the Wagner Group that provides mercenaries for Putin’s forays into foreign lands, such as Syria.

His diversified enterprises have earned Prigozhin an indictment by the US grand jury and sanctions throughout the civilised world. But what I admire most is his Petersburg troll factory, officially known as the Internet Research Agency, an organisation much more pernicious than the one sharing the same initials. Prigozhin’s IRA employs a staff of 1,000, working around the clock in two shifts.

Their job is inundating the airwaves with lies, threats, foul abuse and anything else the moment requires. About 600 of them are the frontline troops, with the rest acting in managerial and auxiliary capacities.

They sell their conscience cheaply, for about £500 a month. But that sum is nothing to sneeze at in an impoverished Russia, and in any case it constitutes gross overpayment for that brand of conscience.

Their daily quota is 120 trolls per person a day, which is how I arrived at the overall daily output of over 70,000. The IRA’s activities within Russia are rather crude. For example, the moment Prigozhin’s name appears on the net in any other than a laudatory context, the post instantly receives hundreds of dislikes and dozens of abusive and threatening comments.

I don’t know whether the IRA employs a different group for foreign-language trolling. Suffice it to say that their work is noticeable. Since even insignificant little I have found myself on the receiving end of computer-generated diatribes, one can only imagine the full scale of that op.

And please don’t get the impression that the IRA acts on its own. It merely supplements similar efforts of the SVR, née the KGB First Directorate. This represents a salutary cooperation between the public and private sectors, a sort of criminal equivalent of British medical care.

I must compliment my former countrymen on staying abreast of modern technology. Yet they don’t call this warfare ‘hybrid’ for nothing. Even as the Russians happily combine high-tech murder weapons (polonium, novichok) with common-or-garden guns and car bombs, they don’t rely just on computerised subversion.

Putin’s spymasters are busily recruiting Western agents both wholesale, including whole political parties, and retail, in the shape of journalists, academics and other willing propagandists. Some enter into such Faustian transactions for money, some for ideological reasons, and most are what Lenin so aptly called “useful idiots”.

But today’s specimens of this species are different. If in the past useful idiots were all variously extreme left-wingers, today they are recruited from the right. That, incidentally, reemphasises the difference between right-wing and conservative, even though the two words are often used, or rather misused, interchangeably.

I’m not holding my breath in the hope that Biden’s tough words will be translated into tough actions going beyond a new tranche of mild sanctions. Still, one detects a change of mood in the US administration.

This change is welcome, compared to the four years of Trump’s sycophancy. Lest you accuse me of being a crypto-leftie, this is the only change implemented by the Biden administration that I’d describe as welcome.

So he is a Catholic after all

Mea maxima culpa, I had my doubts on that score. Can you blame me?

Pope Francis has frequently championed new-fangled secular causes that not only have nothing to do with Christianity, but are inimical to it. Thereby he stayed on the right side of modernity but – in my respectful but firm view – on the wrong side of his remit.

An institution rooted in eternity has to be conservative by definition, if only because modernity is chiefly animated by hostility to religion. When the Vicar of Christ (or, for that matter, any priest) starts mouthing faddish leftie shibboleths, he lets his side down – theologically, philosophically, historically and politically.

Such a man fails to realise that the culture of share-care-be-aware represents a ghastly caricature, indeed denial, of Christian virtues. Nor does he grasp the derivative aspects of Christian doctrine that could serve even our daily lives better than any ‘liberal’ profanation. The Church dogma trumps dogmatic wokery every time.

For example, conservatives who abhor the uncontrollable expansion of the central state should invoke the principle behind the Church structure: subsidiarity, devolving power to the lowest sensible level. This works well for the Church, and, whenever a secular state applies this principle, it works a treat there as well.

Pope Francis has been assiduously trying to adapt the Church dogma to that of the modern liberal (actually, anti-liberal) ethos, which has provoked my occasional criticism. So much happier I am today to see that His Holiness has finally pitted the Church against the tyranny of modernity.

He decreed the other day that the Church cannot bless homosexual unions because “God cannot bless sin”. By blessing such unions, the Church would “approve and encourage a choice and a way of life that cannot be recognised as objectively ordered to the revealed plans of God”.

Stoutly spoken, and this isn’t just a restatement of the Catholic moral teaching. This is a reminder of the thin lines separating licence from decadence and decadence from degeneracy. Firmly lodged in history, the Church is aware of the gruesome fate suffered by societies that crossed those lines, or indeed even approached them.

It’s also a reminder of the transcendent value of absolute morality impervious to current appetites. Morality can’t zigzag in the wake of kaleidoscopically changing fads. If it does, it eventually becomes first immoral and then amoral.

As Pope Benedict XVI put it, “’A century ago, anyone would have thought it absurd to talk about homosexual marriage.” And his predecessor, John Paul II, found even stronger words in 2003: “The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions… [because that would mean] the approval of deviant behaviour”. 

That Pope Francis now toes the same line is quite a radical departure from his earlier statements on the same subject. For example, in 2019 he advocated a “civil union law”, and last year he added that: “Homosexual people have the right to be in a family… they are children of God”. 

The contrast is stark between the feelings underlying those statements and his current position, with His Holiness suggesting that any law equating same-sex relationships with marriages would be “an anthropological regression”.

The conservative in me rejoices, while the cynic wonders what prompted such a sharp about-face within such a short time. Usually, people of the Pope’s venerable age don’t change their views drastically, or at least take much longer to do so. Could it be that he succumbed to the pressure exerted by conservative cardinals?

However, the conservative is telling the cynic to shut up. Let’s just savour the moment and stop asking frivolous questions, along the lines of “Is the Pope Catholic?”. Of course, he is. Well done, Your Holiness – long may this continue.   

The US army fights ‘fair’

One would think that the armed forces are there to fight battles other than those of gender equality.

America’s security is in safe, if dainty, hands

After all, an army is the least egalitarian institution one could imagine. An extra star on the collar entitles a man to issue peremptory orders that must be obeyed on pain of severe punishment.

And the US army is even less egalitarian than its British counterpart. Since the US officer corps has no tradition of class, the army accentuates privileges of rank. Thus, if British officers often address their superiors by Christian name off-duty and sometimes even on, their American colleagues stick to the formal ‘sir’ in most situations.

Yet these days no institution can blow away the smokescreen of the zeitgeist. And the zeitgeist issues its orders with Pauline authority: there is neither male nor female, neither gay nor straight, neither original nor trans, for ye are all one in wokery.

The US army fought a rearguard action against such frontal attacks, but it was outgunned. It has merely managed to win a skirmish against transsexuals by allowing them to serve only in their original, aka real, sex.

But all other battles have been lost. In 2011 President O’Bummer pushed through a law allowing open homosexuals to serve. And in 2016 the first women donned the uniform of the US infantry.

Women now make up 14 per cent of US personnel on active duty – and more power to them, says the feminist in me. Alas, when it comes to physical fitness, women tend to have less power.

Nevertheless, logic demands that all soldiers irrespective of sex meet the same minimum requirements of fitness. Hence the US army introduced the gender-neutral Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT).

Again, the egalitarian in me applauds. If we have gender-neutral public lavatories, surely everything should go gender-neutral – including, and I can’t stress this enough, the women’s dressing room at my tennis club.

But here’s the snag: God still makes men stronger and faster than women. That’s why 65 per cent of female soldiers fail ACFT, against a mere 10 per cent of men. This affects promotion prospects, putting women at a distinct disadvantage.

Given the current climate, such blatant discrimination simply won’t do. Hence the army is considering scrapping the same ACFT for all, replacing it with separate tests for men and women. This sort of thing works in sports, where men and women don’t compete together (unless the men claim to be women). But in the army?

To begin with, it’s not immediately obvious why the US army needs women in the first place. Unlike, say, Israel, America has plenty of able-bodied men to staff her 200,000-strong army.

Many experts believe that women can slow down a unit because their presence activates men’s chivalry, dormant though it nowadays may be. Thus a male soldier is more likely to come back for a wounded woman than for a man. Under some circumstances, such noble instincts may endanger the mission or even the unit.

Also, a woman taken prisoner may well be raped, which fate is less likely to befall a male GI. Thus a frontline female soldier faces greater risks, which offends my sense of fairness.  

However, accepting that the US military can’t survive without going unisex, surely all soldiers have to be able to satisfy the minimum requirements of fitness, both physical and mental? Unlike with sex, here the choice is strictly binary: either such minimum standards are essential or they aren’t.

Fair enough, with modern warfare increasingly resembling computer games, not all army jobs have to be physically arduous. A woman is as capable as a man to operate a PlayStation console even if she can’t run as fast.

It would be fine to lower the required physical standards strictly for such jobs. Yet that would still make many other branches of service off limits for many women, which runs against the grain of modern sensibilities.

Hence the planned ACFT streaming, regardless of the branch of service. Woke worthiness trumps combat readiness, which is cloud cuckoo land.

I wonder if female soldiers will in due course be allowed to wear stiletto heels on duty, as Italian policewomen already are. We can’t force female persons to wear men’s clothes, can we now?

Woke in Vogue

American Vogue has correctly castigated the word niggling, as in ***gling worry, for being racist in general and towards Meghan Markle in particular.

Huck and Afro-American James

As a lifelong champion of propriety, I agree wholeheartedly: underprivileged people like Meghan have suffered enough discrimination over the past several millennia to be exposed to such verbal abuse. Even when the affront is only phonetic and not semantic, it wounds just as grievously.

That’s why I’m amazed that this campaign against unconscious bias expressed through phonetic bigotry has taken so long to gather speed. After all, it was 22 years ago that an American official got in trouble for using the word niggardly. One would think that’s enough time for all those beastly words to have been expurgated from public discourse. Oh well, better late than never.

As Her Majesty’s subject, I’m proud that Hamish Bowles, the man who renewed this crusade for phonetic decency, is himself British, even though he chose an American magazine as his forum. After all, the language is called English, not American. Hence it behoves Britons to steer it into the harbour of moral goodness.

I wish I had initiated this noble effort. As it is, all I can do is jump on the bandwagon, even at the risk of breaking a leg.

To begin with, no campaign can succeed without a slogan. In this case, I propose ‘Down with Homonyms, Homophones and Other Homos…’ Oops, you know how it is. You put something down on paper and then realise how dreadful it sounds. Took me a second to recognise that my proposed motto is blatantly (if inadvertently!) homophobic.

But here’s the silver lining to that cloud: it has dawned on me that it’s not just words containing nig or neg that can cause lacerating offence, but also those starting with homo- and paedo- (or ped-).

It’ll take weeks of painstaking effort to compile an exhaustive, and exhausting, list of taboo words. The best I can hope to do in a short piece is signpost the path to the ultimate verbal virtue. In this spirit, here’s my modest contribution.

The N-words, in addition to ***gling and ***gardly: ***ate, ***ative, de***grate, ab***ate, ***ht (and its derivatives such as ***htgown), ***ligible, ***otiate, e***ma. In parallel with compiling this glossary, I’m contacting African officials about new geographical designations for ***eria and ***er, those guaranteed not to upset Meghan.

The H-words, in addition to those mentioned: ****geneous, ****logy, and so forth. The original word ****sexual, now being laudably replaced with the newly correct queer, should also be banished for stylistic incongruity. Combining Greek and Latin in the same word is grating on an ear as sensitive as mine.

The P-words to be proscribed: ***iatrician, ***estal, ***al, ex***ition, ***estrian, ex***ience, ***icure – well, you get the gist.

I could, probably should, have compiled a much longer list, but time is running short. I must go and toss into the bonfire my copies of Gone with the Wind, Huckleberry Finn and Collected Works of William Shakespeare (I haven’t got a separate copy of Othello).

Anyway, by now you know enough to carry on without me. If you get stuck, contact Hamish Bowles, Anna Wintour or Meghan Markle.

PS: The Times describes pop ‘multi-instrumentalist’ Jacob Collier as a “Londoner, who has been compared to Mozart and Prince”. No doubt Mozart would have felt honoured to be mentioned side by side with Messrs Collier and Prince. I’m only sorry for another multi-instrumentalist, JS Bach, who would have felt left out. 

Death by a thousand cu*ts

A fortnight ago, a young woman, Sarah Everard, spent an evening at a friend’s house in Clapham, South London.

Kalechi Okafor, who’s with Baroness Jones all the way

Late at night she walked home to Brixton, further south. Anyone familiar with London could have warned her that making that journey on foot was all her life was worth.

Alas, no one did, and Sarah was abducted and killed. The suspect, a police officer with a history of flashing women in public, was arrested.

Now imagine you’re a member of the House of Lords, up on your feet to respond to that tragic event. You realise that merely expressing outrage and delivering the requisite litany of “our thoughts and prayers go to…” won’t be enough.

You must come up with a bill outlining measures that would make even iffy parts of town safer. What would you propose? What would any sane person propose?

You’d probably say we need more cops on the beat. Then perhaps you might suggest that policemen be vetted more carefully, to make sure they prevent crimes rather than committing them. Nor would it be a bad idea to increase both conviction rates and prison sentences, making the law more feared and respected. It would also be advisable to remind people, men as well as women, that they should take extra care when walking through certain neighbourhoods at night.

Is that all you can come up with? This only goes to show you are a misogynist global-warming denier, and probably also a homophobe, sexist, transphobe, crypto-rapist and fascist.

The Green peer Baroness Jones is none of those things, but then neither is she sane. That’s why, instead of the aforementioned measures, she proposed a blanket curfew keeping all men off the streets after 6 pm. “I feel,” she said, “this would make women a lot safer, and discrimination of all kinds would be lessened.” 

All men, Lady Jones? Even tweedy sixtyish gentlemen going home after dinner at a Pall Mall club? And all kinds of discrimination? How about discrimination between sanity and lunacy? That too, by the sound of it.

A mere couple of decades ago such daring proposals were seldom heard outside lunatic asylums. However, now those institutions are under new management, and their boundaries have expanded over the whole country.

Hence crazy subversive ideas, solely designed to sever all ties of tradition, decency and sanity holding society together, are in the mainstream of ‘progressive’ thought. As such, they can be seriously – often solely – discussed in the Mother of All Parliaments, most media and at smart parties in the parts of London considerably better than Brixton or even Clapham.

Some such ideas make it into laws, some don’t, but they all have a steadily erosive effect. Yesterday’s lunacy becomes today’s eccentricity and tomorrow’s norm. All certitudes get inverted, all ties snipped one by one. Society is cast adrift, whirled around uncontrollably in the maelstrom of hot air.

This job is done by most people with a public voice, though their number is hard to assess. I’d be surprised if there were more than a few hundred, perhaps a thousand or two, but they are all good at wielding the knife. A nick here, a notch there, a chop elsewhere, and suddenly there’s no way back. Our civilisation dies by a thousand… well, cuts.

This strategy was tersely worded in ancient times: divide et impera – divide and conquer. Facing solid opposition, turn its members against one another, making sure friends and allies become implacable enemies. That scheme is clearly discernible in the workings of our vociferous minority.

Its members systematically sow discord between the sexes, rending families asunder and destroying the very concept of a family.

They radicalise racial rancour, fomenting unrest and violence.

They cut society off its history by portraying it as nothing but a series of heinous crimes.

They hack away at education, producing generations of youngsters well-versed in the delights of transsexuality and the use of condoms, but incapable of thinking soundly or even reading fluently.

They cut language to pieces. Thus ‘liberal’ gets to mean tyrannical; ‘liberty’, cultural and intellectual bondage; ‘social justice’, social injustice; ‘progressive’, subversive. I call this semantic vandalism glossocracy, controlling thought by controlling language.

Underpinning all these efforts is the slogan of equality for all – except of course for the vociferous minority lording it over everybody.

Baroness Jones’s diatribe is part of an important prong of this multifarious offensive: alienating the sexes. Arguing against her specific proposal is pointless – it’s like arguing against one of the weapons brandished to kill you.

If one were so inclined, one could mention that two thirds of the people murdered in London are men, not women. Moreover, three-quarters of the female victims are killed not by stray rapists, but by members of the same household.

But, as I say, there’s no point. Baroness Jones didn’t really mean that the entire male population of London should go into a lockdown. She was simply screaming hatred for everything that makes Britain British, Western, civilised or indeed sane.

Some people find it tempting to ascribe such outbursts to a dastardly cabal staffed with members of whatever group one finds objectionable: the Illuminati, Jews, Masons, Judaeo-Masons, the Rothschilds, social media billionaires, the Bilderberg Society, the Trilateral Commission, you name it.

But such temptations ought to be resisted. Conspiracies, real like communism or imaginary like so many others, only slake the natural human thirst for simple explanations.

Alas, those seeking such simplicity end up slitting their intellectual throats with Occam’s razor. The real problem lies much deeper than a smoky cellar in which evildoers concoct their knavish tricks.

Every civilisation in history has always had its share of professional malcontents, which isn’t always a bad thing. Even as competition makes an economy stronger, malcontents and their rants may add focus to society, helping it reassess itself, its values and priorities, making it better and stronger as a result.

However, a funny thing happened on the way to modernity: some three centuries ago the malcontents began to gain power at the expense of the whole Western civilisation. Their eyes got wider, their voices louder, their aims loftier.

They began to smell not just political victory, but an existential one. They realised they could destroy not only old politics, but also the old religion, old philosophies, old morality – old just about everything. These could be replaced with… what exactly?

The newly empowered malcontents weren’t unduly bothered by such details. They were electrons, not positrons. Their charge was negative, not positive. Destruction was their primary objective, with creation strictly secondary or even tertiary.

Sometimes they wielded an axe, sometimes a knife, sometimes a chisel, but each tool was handled with consummate expertise. Step by step, farfetched hypotheses became lapidary facts, appetites became rights, truths became lies and vice versa.

And then the snowball effect kicked in. More and more people began to listen and nod. Upholding the old certitudes was becoming mildly embarrassing, infra dig, not quite the done thing. Mocking those who did so anyway became a matter of kneejerk reflex, not serious, sound or even sane argument.

Hence Baroness Jones received support from all the customary quarters.

Such as the Scottish independence fanatic Nicola Sturgeon, who said: “there will be few – if any – women who don’t completely understand and identify with this”. If that’s true, I count myself lucky being married to one of the few. (Parenthetically, for the benefit of the uninitiated, what Scottish independence means to Nicola is leaving the UK and joining the EU.)

Or MP Diane Abbott, who wrote: “Even after all these years if I am out late at night on an isolated street & I hear a man’s footsteps behind me I automatically cross the road.” If it’s my steps, Diane, you should run, not just cross the road. 

Or Kelechi Okafor, some kind of actress (see photograph above), who more or less claimed it was Piers Morgan what done it, by whipping up “socially encouraged misogyny” through his “incessant rants about Meghan Markle.”

It’s easy to dismiss such people as stupid, woke ideologues. But it’s much easier for them to dismiss the few remaining holdouts. It’s Jones and her ilk who have real, and growing, power. They are the ones who wield the knife, administering death by a thousand… well, cuts.

Culture war claims another casualty

A disclaimer is in order: I’m not Piers Morgan’s greatest fan. This though he lives in my general neighbourhood.

So much for freedom of speech, Piers

But today I celebrate Piers as a martyr to a noble cause. Responding to the Sussexes’ emetic TV stunt, he called Meghan a liar, almost in as many words. Specifically, he called her the “Pinocchio Princess”, making me have another look at recent photos to make sure Meghan’s nose isn’t growing pari passu with her stomach.

Piers refused to believe any of Meghan’s claims, including the tearjerker about her getting a cold shoulder from a senior royal whom she had asked for help with her “mental problems.”

A tip to Meghan: next time you have a medical problem, consult a doctor, not a royal. Horses for courses and all that.

Then I suspect Meghan’s problem wasn’t medical but existential, of the kind that keeps almost 150,000 American shrinks in business. Encouraged by the deafening din of psychobabble, modern people, especially Americans, delve deep into their own psyche.

Everything they find there has to be medicalised or, to be more exact, psychobabbled. Hence Americans, especially those in big cities, fluently pepper their speech with terms borrowed from the Fraud & Junk jargon. Everybody is supposed to have at least one complex (Oedipal for preference), sublimate his libido, and wonder how his id relates to his ego and super-ego.

Meghan didn’t divulge the name of the insensitive royal, but I can just hear how, say, Prince Philip would have reacted to such nonsense: “Nothing a stiff whisky won’t fix, dear, what?”

Then of course Piers may be right in refusing to believe such a conflict even took place. “I’m sorry, I don’t believe a word she said, Meghan Markle,” he fumed. “I wouldn’t believe it if she read me a weather report.”

This brings to mind what the writer Mary McCarthy said of another writer, Lillian Hellman: “Every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the’.” This was obviously a hyperbole if taken literally. But the point was valid nonetheless: Hellman was a communist and therefore a liar.

Meghan is a woke round peg who found herself in a square conservative hole and set out to file away its angles by hook or, preferably, by crook. In addition, being a leftie B-actress rising like scum to the top of the Hollywood mire, I’m sure Meghan’s concept of truth is anything that fits her immediate purpose.

I agree with Piers, for once in my life: Meghan lied in everything she said about the royals – even in things that may be factually correct. One can lie in all sorts of ways: by omission, deception, spin, intonation, gesture, even facial expression.

For example, I could say that John washed his three-year-old daughter in the bathtub. Then I could wink and add: “Know what I mean?” That way I’ve just lied about John being a paedophile without uttering a single word that wasn’t factually true.

Naturally, our woke majority couldn’t let the offensive hack get away with such an affront to one of its heroines. ITV received 41,000 indignant complaints, and Piers Morgan lost his lucrative job as host of the chat show Good Morning Britain.

If such unimpeachable remarks caused a wave of vitriol in a generally royalist Britain, you can imagine the pukestorm stirred up in America where a republic cum democracy run riot is an article of fervent faith – especially among those who are unaware of the difference between a democracy and a republic.

Thus Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, praised Meghan unreservedly: “For anyone to come forward and speak about their own struggles with mental health and tell their own personal story, that takes courage,” she said. “That’s certainly something the president believes.”

Of course he does, dear girl, of course he does. As he doubtless believes in following a singular antecedent with a plural pronoun. Why, he even believes that Neil Kinnock is an orator worth plagiarising.

And Hilary Clinton found the interview “heart-rending to watch”, adding that “every institution has got to make more space and acceptance for young people coming up, particularly young women, who should not be forced into a mould that is no longer relevant, not only for them, but for our society.”

You understand that people like Hilary speak not semantically, but semiotically. They don’t say things that must somehow add up – they send signals of woke virtue. Hence it doesn’t matter to Hilary that what she said is utter gibberish.

For example, if by “our society” she means the US, then yes, the British monarchy is indeed “no longer relevant”. But Meghan married not a corrupt Arkansas governor, but a silly British prince, a member of the institution not only relevant in his country, but vital to it.

Hilary’s heart wasn’t only rent, but also broken. She found it “heart-breaking” that Meghan wasn’t “fully embraced” by “the permanent bureaucracy that surrounds the royal family…”. Takes two to tango, I’d say. Surely even Hilary can’t possibly think that Meghan “fully embraced” the royal family?

My sympathies to Piers Morgan. I hope he’ll find another job soon – certainly sooner than whoever accused him will find another brain.

Diana came back as Meghan

If I were to single out the most soul-destroying offshoot of post-Enlightenment modernity, universal egotism would spring to mind first.

Remove faith in the absolute authority infinitely higher than oneself, and one’s own feelings and thoughts assume an inordinate importance. Eventually they’ll become all that remains. The baser the feelings, and the punier the thoughts, the likelier such a spiritual death.

This brings me to Harry, his mother and his wife.

Diana had little intelligence, but plenty of cunning; no morality, but a talent for faking eyelash-flapping innocence; no talents, but boundless ambition; no ability to influence but an endless capacity to manipulate.

In short, she was the quintessential modern woman with her head lodged deep in her own shapely rump. As such, she was the worst person to be admitted into a family whose raison d’être is to serve public good.

Yet Meghan has matched Diana in the harm she has done to the royal family. British monarchy, the country’s constitutional linchpin, has shown enough sturdiness to resist assorted emperors, führers and kaisers. But it seems weak in the face of two self-serving nonentities with a knack for sanctimonious demagoguery.

(I shan’t bore you with the details of the revolting TV stunt perpetrated by the Sussexes. Over the past couple of days, the papers and airwaves have been filled to bursting with luridly detailed accounts, making any more reminders redundant.)

In a way, Diana’s transgressions were worse than Meghan’s. After all, she was raised in an aristocratic English family that had served the Crown for centuries. Hence she had no excuse of ignorance – she couldn’t possibly have been unaware of the singular significance of the institution she tried to hurt.

Meghan has such an excuse, but it’s a lame one. Grasping the constitutional aspects of British monarchy, along with its rituals and protocols, isn’t astrophysics. Even a Hollywood airhead should be able to do so, with a little application.

But application was never forthcoming. Meghan saw her role in England as a grander equivalent of her role in Suits: as one of the stars of the show.

Once she got there, her Hollywood instincts told her she now could do as she pleased. She was a star with proven box-office appeal, and the show was to propel her to an even greater stardom. No one could stop her now – not directors, co-stars or, in this case, senior royals.

Meghan’s personal qualities apart, her American background also worked against her. Since British monarchy is no longer a threat, Americans don’t hate it now as they used to. They just don’t get it (like all generalisations, this one allows for exceptions).

I’ve heard many Americans expand on our monarchy with benign condescension. They see it as a Ye Olde England theme park, a sort of Disneyland London to match Disneyland Paris.

Americans find it hard to understand the monarch’s significance to the constitution – in fact, they find it hard to realise that Britain has one. After all, a few dozen revolutionaries never got together to write down what the country is supposed to be all about.

Much less are they capable of understanding the intricate ganglion of love, veneration and historical memories activating the synapses of the British psyche whenever the subject of the monarchy comes up (again, notable exceptions aside). It’s no coincidence that, Diana apart, the greatest damage to the House of Windsor has been done by two American women of dubious past who married into the family.

Americans prize the rugged individualism of a self-made man more than the British do. That’s fine, provided it’s mitigated by the community spirit that used to come from faith. In its absence, a self-made man’s job is never quite finished.

He lays a foundation of self-importance, tops it with a floor of ambition, another of energy and leaves it at that. The edifice of his ego is complete. All else is mere furniture, to be put in or, if necessary, removed.

If that type is widespread in the country at large, it’s predominant in Hollywood. Every year thousands of young girls descend on Los Angeles with dreams of stardom and a readiness to claw their way to the top, through human flesh if necessary.

Some have genuine talent, but they are few. Most of the others end up as waitresses, call girls or pole dancers. In between those groups are girls like Meghan, who manage to compensate for their modest thespian talents with hypertrophied ambition.

They end up as B-actresses, a type as unsuited as call girls or pole dancers to the selfless service demanded of the British royals. Yet Meghan is proud of having achieved much in a dog-eat-dog Hollywood by her own efforts (I shan’t speculate about their nature).

That added another layer to her sense of solipsistic self-importance. She simply couldn’t get her head around the fact that she no longer mattered as an individual. A British princess isn’t one first and foremost. She is the personification of her institutional status, a loyal servant to the family and through it to the country.

If Diana couldn’t understand that despite her background, Meghan can’t understand it because of hers. Both women felt slighted, their whole concept of the world and their place in it was turned upside down. Spiteful as they were, they set out to take revenge, and both chose a similar path.

They went on TV to tug on the heartstrings of the silly public, the only kind susceptible to such puppetry. Those poor people were regaled with stories of coldblooded royals crushing the newcomer’s ego with grotesque demands and refusal to heed their hysterical shrieks of I WANT TO BE ME!.

Both women talked about suicidal tendencies, with Diana adding emetic allusions to bulimia and self-harm. Meghan complained about having to learn how to curtsy, which must have taxed her acting skills no end.

She was crushed by her title and, self-refutingly, by her son Archie being denied one. If royal titles weigh so heavy on one’s shoulders, she should be happy that her son will be spared such crushing pressures. (Actually, Archie is already an earl, set to become a duke in due course, although not an HRH.)

And then Meghan hit the royal family with the most damning accusation known to modernity, that of racism. When she was pregnant, one unspecified royal wondered what colour Meghan’s child would be.

This question doesn’t strike me as ipso facto racist. Actually, it’s quite interesting, involving as it does the old wives’ tales of throwbacks. In fact, the chances of a child to be darker than the darker one of his parents are one in millions. It’s conceivable that the offending royal didn’t know that and was genuinely curious.

What’s not conceivable is that anyone in that family could be openly racist. As head of the Commonwealth, the Queen has many black-skinned subjects. Hence, even assuming for the sake of argument that a senior royal harbours racist sentiments, expressing them would be a political faux pas the likes of which none of them has ever made.

Yet Meghan knows how to appeal to woke sensibilities. Hence her teary complaints about her and Archie being discriminated against on racial grounds.

Now, our royals aren’t first-rate intellectuals, nor are they expected to be. Some of them are intelligent, some less so. But Harry stands out among them by being downright dumb – sufficiently so to give credence to the rumours of his questionable birth.

But whoever his real father was, Diana was definitely his mother. She was the tree and Harry is the apple that didn’t fall far from it. Now it’s being gobbled up by his wife who combines all of Diana’s awful qualities with quite a few of her own.

Three holidays, three human types

What people celebrate says at least something about what they are. Compare, for example, a Briton who observes Yom Kippur to one who commemorates Hitler’s birthday.

…you have nothing to lose but your bras

Two extreme a juxtaposition? Fine. Let’s tone it down a notch. May Day and Pentecost? The Queen’s Birthday and the Fourth of July?

Anyway, you get the point. Our true selves reveal themselves in thousands of ways, not least in the dates we deem worthy of commemoration. A social anthropologist could have a field day just looking at the calendar.

March is the best time to conduct such a forensic investigation. For this month has three different holidays celebrating one part of mankind: women. I maintain that much can be said about a man on the basis of which of them he celebrates.

They are: International Women’s Day (IWD) celebrated on 8 March; Mother’s Day, falling on 14 March this year; Mothering Sunday, on the same day.

The first is communist, the second is secular, the third is Western Christian. Each is honoured by different groups, separated not so much by demarcation lines as fissures.

The esoteric origin of IWD can be traced back to the US, specifically the American Socialist Party (communist, as near as damn) that arbitrarily chose it to express solidarity with women on strike. But its real origin is in Russia, where the Bolsheviks declared it a national holiday directly they seized power.

Until recently this hallowed date was left uncommemorated and generally unknown in the West. It was only recognised by radical left-wingers, who found themselves on the margins of Western, especially Anglophone, societies.

However, their ideology has since moved from the margins into the mainstream, dragging this communist holiday with it. So what can our social anthropologist say about those who celebrate this day? He’d probably divide them into three sub-groups.

The smallest one are extreme lefties who celebrate all communist holidays. For example, I know a wealthy financier whose late wife, a Labour activist, used to organise annual parties on 22 April, Lenin’s birthday.

The second sub-group are feminists who too tend to lean to the left practically by definition. They react with kneejerk Pavlovian alacrity to any event celebrating any kind of women. If parliament voted to introduce Universal Prostitutes Day or Global Lesbians Day, these people would march in support. They might draw the line on International Ilse Koch Day, but not before that.

The third sub-group is much larger. It’s made up of ignoramuses who are unaware of the provenance of IWD and celebrate it simply because it’s there – or rather because the media make a big deal of it. This sub-group is more or less unobjectionable, although it too could be put forth as an argument for highly selective democracy.

Then comes Mother’s Day, a secular holiday that has supplanted Mothering Sunday and usurped its date. Like IWD, it also originated in America, a distinction it shares with many other modern perversions, though not with the downright evil ones, such as communism and Nazism. Being the first country constituted along modern, Enlightenment lines, the US was also the first to build an impassable barrier between state and religion.

The First Amendment to the US Constitution ostensibly protects freedom of religion. However, Thomas Jefferson and other Founders made it clear that their true goal was freedom not of religion, but from it. Thus, when the First Amendment was passed, Jefferson gloated that it built “a wall of separation between Church and State.”

Hence Christian holidays, other than Christmas Shopping, have been gradually squeezed out of public life, or else replaced with their secular, materialist equivalents – such as Mother’s Day.

It incongruously celebrates not just women who have given birth, but all women as such, defined in strictly biological terms. Even those terms are these days open to debate, what with even biology no longer seen as the sine qua non of womanhood. So it would be more consonant with the zeitgeist to say that Mother’s Day honours people born with a womb, those who’ve had it implanted and those who simply wish they had one.

Being secular, materialist, originally American and generally modern, Mother’s Day appeals to most Britons, thoroughly brainwashed as they are to salute anything meriting such modifiers. Since that group is vast, it’s easier to identify a much smaller one, those who refuse to acknowledge Mother’s Day.

Instead they observe Mothering Sunday, a day honouring not so much biological women as the sacred motherhood of the Virgin Mary and of the Church, the Bride of Christ.

This day is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent by all Christians and especially conservative Christians. Actually, Mothering Sunday ought to be celebrated by all conservatives, even secular ones.

Conservatives, a term I sometimes use interchangeably with ‘intelligent people’, are sufficiently educated to recognise the Christian roots of Western civilisation. Hence they are sufficiently respectful of tradition to celebrate Christian festivals even if they themselves aren’t Christians. Christmas, Easter – and Mothering Sunday – are their holidays as well.

Mothering Sunday can never be free of such political connotations. It was slowly going out of fashion as the world became ever more secular, and only came back strongly in 1913, when the US Congress first ordained Mother’s Day.

Mothering Sunday immediately came back as a conservative reaction to modern cultural vandalism, and has been hanging on ever since. This restores the true, historical name of this sacred day, and conservatives ignore the secular impostor as staunchly as they defy IWD.

The upshot of this taxonomic narrative is self-evident: I wish no one a happy 8 March.