Hey, Merkel!

Such is my considered and suitably moderate response to Angie’s attempt to ban Britons from the continent.

There’s also an element of schadenfreude involved in my reaction: we managed to sneak into France through the window that opened a crack a fortnight ago.

Sitting pretty in the midst of our Burgundian woods, I can now cock a snook at Angie and, more important, comment on this nonsense in a detached and disinterested manner.

Angie Merkel and her adopted son Manny Macron are genuinely concerned about the spread of a deadly contagion Brexititis simplex, of which Britons are prime carriers.

Hence they are trying to designate Britain as a ‘country of concern’. The concern is real: if unchecked, Brexititis can spread so rapidly that it’ll infect many EU members before Angie and Manny can do anything about it.

However, several Mediterranean countries oppose the suggested cordon sanitaire. They see Brexititis as the lesser evil compared to a likely ensuing pandemic of an even deadlier blight, Conditio paupertas, afflicting economies dependent on tourism.

Conditio paupertas may destroy immunity to Brexititis in any body politic. Greece, Malta, Spain, Cyprus and Portugal are particularly susceptible to the virus, and they are fighting tooth and nail to thwart what they see as Angie’s attack on everything they hold sacred, mainly money.

They are increasingly leaning towards relying on the new vaccine, Independentia instans, leaving the population exposed to Brexititis, but offering wide protection against Conditio paupertas.

It has to be said that Angie and Brigitte, who have shared custody of Manny, lately have been neglecting their ward. As a result, Manny was trounced in last week’s regional elections, where he was universally seen as an enfant grossly terrible.

That has evidently strengthened his resolve to keep Brexititis at bay, even at the risk of exposing his own country to Conditio paupertas. To that end, he is pushing all Europeans to submit to the cosmetic surgical procedure colloquially known as ‘cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face’.

You notice that I’m expressing the situation in medical terms, which is proof of my thoroughly modern outlook on life. Every condition must be medicalised to be taken seriously, which is a requirement I accept wholeheartedly.

However, Manny rejects the diktats of modernity and insists on musical metaphors instead. Thus he refers to the self-mutilation that Angie proposes and he supports as ‘harmonised response’, whereas in fact it appears to be widely discordant.

He then mixes his musical and medical metaphors by saying: “We are in concert and perfectly aligned with Angela Merkel. Vigilance with the emergence of this new variant, and of an absolutely indispensable European co-ordination.”

Manny is so much in concert with Angie that he has picked up from her the annoying German custom of treating verbs as dispensable afterthoughts. Yet his eagerness to play second fiddle to Angie in her attempt to keep Britons out is unmistakable.

That’s why I am so happy that we’ve managed to get in before the proposed measures are in place. Unless Manny decides to eject Britons already on the continent, we are in for a most congenial summer.

But hold on for a moment, someone is banging on the door. Let me see who it is…

P.S. Peter ‘Haw Haw’ Hitchens thinks the Royal Navy is stupid to have sailed past the Crimea, but Putin is clever to have annexed it, along with a good chunk of Eastern Ukraine. I fear for Peter should a war break out between Russia and Nato: wartime laws can have a strangulating effect.

Orbán gayrilla

Having got bad puns out of my system, I can now concentrate on serious matters. Specifically, on the EU gauleiters who have ganged up on Hungary’s PM Viktor Orbán.

He’d prefer a different backdrop to this photograph

Every time those ‘leaders’ try to put forth a serious argument, the only thing they ever demonstrate is that unfortunate combination of low intelligence and high temper.

The occasion that gave them the chance to prove this point is Hungary’s new law, banning the depiction or promotion of homosexuality to children under 18.

They all insist that this law makes a mockery of democracy and the values the EU holds sacred. The EU, they say, isn’t just about economic prosperity. (Considering the state of most of the member economies, that goes without saying.)

The EU, they explain, is really about a shared commitment to noble values. Among them, one infers, is the mandate to indoctrinate children in the delights of homo- and transsexuality.

I don’t recall statements to that effect in any of the EU founding documents, nor indeed in the writings of the founders. But who said new values can’t be added as we go along, every week if necessary?

The attack was led by the Dutch PM Mark Rutte. “For me,” he said, “Hungary has no place in the EU anymore.”

Rutte should be careful what he wishes for. The awful contrivance commanding his unwavering loyalty may not be able to withstand any more departures.

Hungary, along with Poland and Slovenia, are on the brink already, and, by Macron’s own admission, even France would vote for Frexit, given the choice. In general, one gets the impression that the EU’s love of democracy is selective. It’s mainly used as a cudgel to bust any majority opinion deemed undesirable.

Luxemburg, that European powerhouse, spoke next, through its openly homosexual PM, Xavier Bettel. “To be nationally blamed, to be considered as not normal, to be considered as a danger for young people – it’s not realising that being gay is not a choice,” he said.

It’s amazing how many falsehoods and rhetorical solecisms this lot can squeeze into one sentence. First, I don’t see how a ban on teaching children certain practices is tantamount to laying blame.

For example, not many people this side of the Islamic world blame people who drink moderate amounts of alcohol. That doesn’t mean that schoolchildren should be taught how to mix mojitos, dry martinis and tequila sunrises. They can acquire this knowledge on their own when they grow up, and the same goes for learning about sexual variants.

As to being abnormal, that’s precisely what homosexuality had been considered throughout history until the past couple of decades. Now that modernity has found an extra gear in its drive to expunge history’s greatest civilisation, propaganda of homosexuality provides a useful boost.

But how can it conceivably be regarded as normal? Since we are such staunch democrats, and democracy is after all a triumph of the majority, homosexuality certainly isn’t normal numerically. The biggest study (over 20,000 subjects) I’ve ever seen found that just over one per cent of us are that way inclined. Homosexual activists insist it’s 10 per cent.

Whether we accept either calculation or their average, it’s clear that most people’s concept of normality doesn’t include anal intercourse between two men, to name one practice found in the rich panoply of life.

As to homosexuality not being a choice, it’s a non sequitur. Being a kleptomaniac or a congenitally violent person is often not a choice either. What is a choice is whether or not to act on the congenital predisposition – by stealing, killing or committing unnatural sex acts.

Speaking of the latter, people who are inclined towards necrophilia, bestiality and coprophilia didn’t choose to be that way either. Does it mean they are normal? Should those perversions be taught at school too?

Before any objections are raised, I hasten to reassure you that I don’t fully equate other sexual perversions, kleptomania or propensity for violence with homosexuality. I’m only pointing out that ‘pro-choice’ arguments are full of gaping logical holes.

This cuts no ice with the Belgian PM Alexander De Croo. He repeats Bettel’s animadversions, adding a few embellishments of his own: “Being homosexual is not a choice,” he said to Orbán. “Being homophobic is a choice. We cannot accept a legislation that is legitimising such a behaviour.”

By De Croo’s standards, I’m not only homophobic, but heterophobic as well – I don’t believe children should learn about any kind of sex at school. That responsibility has for centuries rested with parents, and by and large they’ve managed.

Yet the whole thrust of modern education is to disfranchise parents by putting the onus exclusively on the state’s meaty shoulders. This is in line with Marx’s prescription first put forth in the Communist Manifesto – children should be raised as wards of the state, totally obedient to its diktats.

Note how any parents daring to take exception to the stuff pumped down their children’s throats are shouted down and even threatened with imprisonment. It’s Britain I’m talking about here, not Red China.

Many of the parent’s objections have to do with sex education, whose prime if unspoken aim is to destroy the family, the strongest potential dissident against state tyranny. Instruction in normal or abnormal sex pursues not educational but political objectives, and these have nothing to do with democracy, ostensibly so dear to the EU’s rotten heart.

In that regard, I liked the last sentence in De Croo’s comment: “We cannot accept a legislation that is legitimising such a behaviour.”

‘We’ means the EU, which has been lying for decades that member states retain some autonomy. The lie is exposed by every word coming out of the mouths of EU gauleiters, who make it clear member states can pass any law they wish, but only provided the EU likes it.

This sentiment was reiterated by Angela Merkel, who said: “We all made it very clear here what fundamental values we are pursuing.” The European Commission, she explained, “will now continue to deal with the Hungarian law”.

My guess is that the rubber-stamp European Court for Human Rights will now be told to disavow the new law. That will give Orbán a stark choice: either be a good boy or leave the EU.

I hope he’ll choose the latter, but fear it’ll be the former. For now.

Brezhnev’s prehistoric ancestor finally found

The scientific community (and what isn’t a community these days?) is dancing with joy. The fossilised skull on display in Hebei, China, has been identified as belonging to the hitherto unknown progenitor of man, Homo longi, the ‘Dragon man’.

Homo longi, circa 1980

Actually, I strongly believe that the first word appearing in a whole raft of Homo species, such as Homo erectus and Homo sapiens, is offensively homophobic. The former can easily be construed as describing an excited gay man, while the latter sounds like a particularly clever one.

If we reject historical nomenclatures for woke reasons, why not biological ones? It’s a distinct possibility that someone out there may feel offended by the taxonomic term Homo, which can also function as a slur. And we know that such an offence can produce a lifelong trauma, effectively destroying the person’s happiness, not to say life.

But that’s a subject for another day. What has caught my eye today is the story of the Homo longi skull, found decades ago, but only handed over to researchers in 2017.

According to the overexcited reports, Homo longi “had a brain comparable in size to that of modern humans, but sported big, almost square eye sockets [and] thick brow ridges…”

Scientists believe that this Homo is the closest relation of Homo sapiens, quite possibly the missing link that has been such a bugbear for Darwinists. Those scientists don’t even realise how right they are.

For Homo longi has survived almost unchanged to modern times, and photographs of the late Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev prove that beyond any doubt. Just compare the photo above with the description of Homo lungi.

“A brain comparable in size to that of modern humans…” – tick. “Big, almost square eye sockets…” – tick. “Thick brow ridges” – ten ticks. Such a striking similarity couldn’t possibly have been coincidental, could it?

Hence it’s Comrade Brezhnev who fills that lamentable gap in Darwin’s theory. He is both the missing link and proof that the earliest examples of our progenitors are still with us.

You might say this is conjecture, and that would be a fair point. Yet Darwin’s theory, which is universally accepted as an ironclad fact, is just as conjectural. The word ‘theory’ is a dead giveaway there: it’s closer to hypothesis than to fact.

And this particular hypothesis has a dearth of facts supporting it, while there exist an abundance of facts that at best bring it into doubt – and at worst contravene it outright.

The existence of hirsute half-apes living in caves and barely able to stay upright, only then to evolve into Bach and Newton, isn’t supported by reliable evidence, only by conjecture. In fact, the earliest signs of human habitation show that those Homos were easily as intelligent as Richard Dawkins, and quite a bit more artistic.

My problem with Darwinism as the sole explanation of man isn’t that it contradicts Genesis – it really doesn’t. God is equally capable of creating species slowly or quickly. He could easily have breathed a particle of himself into an ape and then watched it becoming human over thousands or millions of years.

What’s deplorable about Darwinism is that it’s allowed to remain merely a theory a century and a half after the publication of On the Origin of Species. Such a leeway is hardly ever granted to any other scientific theory.

The best they get is some 40-50 years. After that they become either a proven fact or a matter of strictly antiquarian interest.

The reason Darwinism still survives and is even accepted as irrefutable orthodoxy lies not in science but in its political appeal. It’s the biological answer to Marxist determinism, with both providing a simplistic explanation of life.

And modernity, the triumph of mediocrity that it is, loves a simplistic explanation – especially one seen as a knife stuck in the back of our moribund civilisation. Hence it eagerly accepts that a bone fragment found in a cave draws a realistic picture of evolution, one found in museums of natural history around the world.

It’s confidently assumed that the possessor of that bone fragment lived in caves because that’s where the fragment was found. One wonders if a thousand years from now scientists will find the skeleton of a miner killed in a coalmine and infer that Homo sapiens circa 2021 lived in collieries.

None of this in any way diminishes my admiration of the scientists who have now forged an unbreakable chain tying together the dragonfly, the ‘Dragon Man’ and Leonid Brezhnev. We all like the odd bit of sci-fi.

Our royals aren’t diverse enough

No one can change history, although many are trying. And the history of English royalty is truly shameful.

Her Majesty the Queen, a few geenrations from now

If you look at all our kings and queens, you’ll find they’ve all been offensively white. Judging by the fact that she is portrayed by a black actress in a recent TV series, Anne Boleyn might have been the sole exception – and some die-hard racists deny even that.

Prince Harry is doing his level best to improve this calamitous situation, but his effort may be described as too little, too late. In any case, he is so far down the line of succession that even if his children grow up to marry appropriately coloured spouses, our monarchs will remain white. Perhaps if Meghan could dump Harry and a have a child with Will… but let’s not go there.

If we could start from scratch, we’d doubtless make sure that the royal family reflected the demographic makeup of the population at large. But we can’t backtrack to the beginning, so there.

What we can do, however, is apply our progressive standards to the royal staff, and that’s precisely what the lobbying group Race Equality Matters has done. And what do you know, its findings confirm what we’ve always suspected: the Palace is infested with institutional (or is it unconscious?) racism.

Only a miserly 8.5 per cent of its staff represent various ethnic minorities. This though most of them have been recruited in London, where such groups make up 40 per cent of the population.

When this gross, borderline criminal iniquity was pointed out to the royal retainers, they were suitably contrite. “Could do better,” admitted a senior Palace spokesman. “We recognise we are not where we want to be and we want to improve.”

Where they want to be as a point of departure is at the dizzying height of 10 per cent. No wonder Raj Tulsiani, co-founder of Race Equality Matters, thinks that’s not good enough.

The Palace, he said, doesn’t “deserve a pat on the back” for expressing good intentions. “Amplifying aspirations for future inclusion, it’s nothing. It’s just words,” he added in the inimitable progressive idiom.

What kind of deeds would be deemed satisfactory? I get it. The Queen should summarily sack the Royal Equerry, Maj. Tom White, and appoint a racially appropriate replacement.

He – or better still, she – could then be given the task of dismissing the entire staff and starting a recruitment drive in certain areas of South and East London. For one thing, that would enable Her Majesty to improve her currently strained finances. After all, staffers living in Tower Hamlets are guaranteed to come cheaper than the denizens of, say, Belgravia.

That would keep Mr Tulsani happy, and his happiness is the primary, possibly only, aim of Britain’s domestic policy. However, those of us who have no say in Britain’s domestic policy, and whose happiness is very far down on the country’s list of priorities, may wonder yet again if the world has gone mad.

In a sane world, a campaign for diversity would only make some sense if ethnic minorities could be confidently shown to be underrepresented due to wilful discrimination. However, that’s not the case, quite the opposite.

If any discrimination is at all observable, it’s of the positive kind, with racial minorities receiving preferential treatment. As that great man Thomas Sowell, himself black, has shown, a private firm can’t afford to discriminate against qualified candidates.

Companies compete not just for markets, but also for staff. Good help, as the saying goes, is hard to find, and finding it is a reliable way of gaining a competitive advantage. Hence, when a qualified black or Asian applies for a job, rejecting him on racial grounds would mean cutting the company’s own commercial throat.

Dr Sowell showed that this isn’t the case mainly on American data, and race is a much more sensitive issue there than in Britain. Speaking from personal experience, whenever I was in a position to hire a talented copywriter or art director, I looked at his portfolio, not the colour of his skin. I didn’t care if it was black, brown, yellow or polka dot – and neither I’m sure does any employer these days.

Though the royal family is sometimes colloquially called the Firm, it’s certainly not a private firm. And Dr Sowell shows that discrimination is more likely to occur in the public sector, where the stakes are lower, and competence has little immediate impact on success.

However, only a madman would believe that our royals could indulge racial prejudice even if they were so afflicted. Our ‘liberal’ hacks are predominantly republican, and they constantly roam around the Palace to find a weak spot they can pounce on. If any sign of racism were detected, the clamour would become deafening.

In all such situations, no one asks the only logical question: Why do we think that ‘diversity’ is ipso facto desirable?

Surely our whole society would stand to benefit if every job in the land were filled by the most qualified candidate, irrespective of his race or any other extraneous characteristics? And surely we’d all stand to lose if such characteristics trumped relevant qualifications at hiring time?

I for one wouldn’t like to be operated on by an inept surgeon who got his job only to fill some idiotic quota. Nor would I like to have my plane flown by a bad pilot chosen on similar criteria. Would anybody?

Such questions are never asked because modernity is obsessed with form at the expense of substance. Modern barbarians whip out their calculators and scream bloody murder whenever the numbers don’t add up to some mythical virtue.

Eventually such shrieks bust the eardrums of previously normal people, and they accept madness as sanity. They end up adopting the false premises imposed on them and drawing wrong conclusion on that basis.

All I can do is offer a premise I consider right: Diversity isn’t intrinsically good. If it happens naturally, fine. But shoving it down people’s throats will make the whole society choke on the reflux.

So I wish the Palace could tell the likes of Mr Tulsiani to perform an acrobatic and ballistically improbable act on themselves. Then again, I also wish I could lose a couple of stone without starving myself.

Russia bullies the waves

The destroyer HMS Defender sailed from Odessa to Georgia yesterday, passing 10 nautical miles from the Crimean coast.

HMS Defender stands warned

Since neither Britain nor any other Western country recognises the theft of the Crimea in 2014, the Defender sailed through either international or Ukrainian waters. She was following what Downing Street describes as “the most direct and internationally recognised route”.

Since Putin sees things differently, HMS Defender was harassed throughout her voyage. She was shadowed by Russian warships and buzzed by at least 20 warplanes flying just 500 feet overhead.

When the Defender approached the Crimea, the Russians demanded she change her course. The captain refused, and warning shots were fired. The Russian ministry of defence then advised that next time the shots would be on target.

Our defence spokesmen reiterated Britain’s intent to continue sailing in those waters, if only to uphold the international law of the sea. Yet Putin treats both national and international laws with equal disdain, happily pushing them beyond the breaking point.

Nationally, he gets away with it because no opposition worthy of the name exists. One would hope that such opposition should exist internationally, but that hope is constantly frustrated.

The other day I wrote that Putin’s stance vis-à-vis the West can be summed up in a line straight out of the lexicon of a schoolyard bully: “Oh yeah? So what are you going to do about it?”

That question has been posed many times, if not in so many words, in London and Salisbury, Georgia and the Ukraine, Syria and Germany, Moscow and now the Black Sea. The bully upped the ante each time the West failed to respond decisively, limiting itself to expressing “grave concern” or at best imposing token sanctions.

Anyone who grew up in a crime-infested neighbourhood knows that it’s not a slap on the wrist that can stop a bully, but a punch on the nose. In this context, the punch can be thrown from different angles and, alas, a direct military response isn’t one of them.

Whenever two armed forces come in close contact with each other, they tend to act on Chekhov’s prescription for stage plays: if a shotgun hangs on the wall in Act I, it must fire in Act III. Guns brandished by two hostile parties also obey the intrinsic logic of such confrontations by firing sooner or later.

The discharge may be accidental or deliberate, coming as an emotional outburst of a trigger-happy officer or an extension of policy. One way or another, playing chicken with modern weapons is a dangerous game – especially for the side that’s badly outgunned.

Britain, along with all European countries, fits that description. Decades of refusing to pay the cost of defending the realm have come back to haunt us, as every sensible commentator knew they would.

Britannia no longer rules the waves, not in the Black Sea and not anywhere. We are unable to provide a sufficient escort for our ships to deter the bully, not even if our solitary carrier sails there. Nor is it a valid option to harass Russian ships sailing through the Channel and the North Sea within sight of the British coast – the Russians would simply dare us to fire, and we won’t.

That, however, doesn’t mean we have no valid options whatsoever. It’s just that we should counterattack not in the Black Sea but in the City of London.

The Crown Prosecution Service explains the legalities involved: “Proceeds of crime is the term given to money or assets gained by criminals during the course of their criminal activity. The authorities, including the CPS, have powers to seek to confiscate these assets so that crime doesn’t pay. By taking out the profits that fund crime, we can help disrupt the cycle and prevent further offences.”

‘Proceeds of crime’ is an accurate description of the hundreds of millions in Russian assets held in Britain. It’s a safe, nay irrefutable, assumption that any Russian fortune laundered through British financial institutions or estate firms was acquired and transferred by means regarded as criminal in any civilised country.

Forfeiture of those assets is the only effective means of punishing Russia’s contempt for international laws – much more effective than any military response would be, even in the unlikely event of all of Nato going along.

Russia isn’t governed by institutions customary in the West. It’s ruled by a gang resulting from history’s unique fusion of secret police and organised crime. Over 80 per cent of its members come from a KGB background, but they use their expertise to ends different from those pursued in Soviet times.

Then KGB methods were used to gain a geopolitical advantage over the West, drawing more countries into the Soviet orbit. Ostensibly, Russia pursues similar objectives, but ‘ostensibly’ is the operative word.

Putin’s hybrid war on the West mainly serves the purpose of allowing his coterie to enrich themselves in an unimpeded fashion and enjoy their ill-gotten wealth in the congenial environment of Western resorts.

This worthy goal can only be achieved if the gang stays in power, tightening the screws at home and keeping its finger on the proverbial nuclear button. And its grip on power is contingent on a show of strength, domestically and globally.

Any student of Russian history knows what happens there to rulers perceived as weak – regardless of any other traits or, for that matter, their qualifications and achievements. That’s why Putin uses every trick, subtle or otherwise, to pose as a direct heir to Stalin, one who inherited his muscular DNA.

But Putin’s regime isn’t really a continuation of Stalin’s by other means. It’s a sui generis phenomenon and should be treated as such.

Stalin and his henchmen didn’t launder billions through Western banks, and neither did they buy up Western properties on a massive scale. Funds in those days flowed from the West to Russia – not the other way, as they do now.

And money streams point to the regime’s desiderata. For example, Lenin and his jolly friends feared they wouldn’t be able to hold on to the power they had seized illegally.

That’s why they quickly robbed Russia blind and channelled millions (billions in today’s inflated cash) to European and American banks, hoping to hide behind a pile of money if they had to flee. The money was also used to foment revolutionary unrest in the West, in the hope that the Bolsheviks could continue to lord it over Russia by destabilising the West.

Stalin took over when the fight for domestic power had been won. Consequently, his goals changed: he aimed for world domination, a goal impossible to achieve without Western credits and technology. Hence the flow of money changed its vector: the arrow began to point at Moscow.

Under all post-perestroika governments, but especially under Putin, the vector spun 180 degrees again, although some circular motion came into play too. The West pays for Russian exports of energy and other natural resources, with the proceeds then recycled back to the West.

This is consistent with the aims of the Putin junta, but it also makes it vulnerable. For all of Russia’s natural resources were seized by criminal means, mainly during the roaring nineties, when Mafia wars claiming hundreds of victims raged throughout Russia.

Hence, the CPS would be within its stated legal remit if it were to impound, or better still confiscate, all major Russian assets held in the UK. A quiet word to that effect into Putin’s shell-like would be a stronger deterrent than any flexing of our atrophied military muscle.

Doing nothing is no longer an option, and I hope our powers that be will finally realise this. If next time the Russians sink our ships, rather than warning them, a military response will be the only one possible, and we don’t want that, do we?    

Racially sensitive knickers have arrived

Until now, Marks & Spencer has been unconsciously racist. To atone for that deadly sin, it has gone consciously woke.

The holy spirit of the secular saint George Floyd wafted into the M&S lingerie department and begat a redemptive concept of a new line of neutral or nude-coloured underwear. Suddenly, the designers of knickers and bras saw the light: their products had been racist.

The idea behind nude-coloured underwear is to make a woman wearing knickers and bra appear as if she’s wearing nothing at all. Personally, I think that’s cheating, and I can also anticipate a situation where such a trompe l’oeil may endanger male health.

Just imagine a young, strong and impetuous chap led to believe that no physical barrier separates his passion from the woman’s body. Unable to contain himself, he lunges… Well, you know.

However, I’ve been reassured that the desired illusion isn’t so realistic as to produce penile trauma. Apparently, one can see that a woman is wearing knickers, even though they more or less match the colour of her skin.

Yes, but is it more or less? That’s where the retailer’s vision was enhanced by what its spokesman described as “the global conversation on racial inequality following the horrific death” of the serial criminal George Floyd.

St George II acted as a conversation starter because he was brutally killed by a racist Minneapolis cop for being black. That’s the accepted thrust of the narrative. The less accepted but truer version is that Floyd was a drug-addled recidivist thug who resisted arrest for yet another crime he had committed. His death was unfortunate, but it had nothing to do with his race.

Yet our biggest retailer of underwear chose the accepted version, which inspired a closer look at its nude-coloured underwear. It turned out that the line was designed strictly for the milky skin associated with a typical English rose.

However, the apparition of St George II removed the scales from the M&S people’s eyes. They saw the light and realised that some of Britain’s fair maidens aren’t, well, fair, if you get my meaning.

The female population of our multi-culti land comes in different shades of skin colours, at least five of them. And four of those had until then been ignored.

The knicker designers gasped with horror and went to work, the image of George Floyd never quite leaving their line of vision. So inspired, they produced a new “bold and relevant” line of inclusive, racially sensitive bras and knickers – in five different colours, approximating the racial makeup of our society.

Now, I happen to think that this whole hullabaloo about Floyd is so much hogwash acting as subversive propaganda against our whole civilisation. But I realise that some people may feel differently, for whatever reason.

They swear by the new, fake take on virtue and are serious about signalling it urbi et orbi. They do think that George Floyd is a martyr for the noble cause of racial equality, a deficit of which indicts the West for the greatest infamy in history.

I only wonder if communicating that grandiose message through bras and knickers may just trivialise, nay vulgarise, that great cause. No mockery like self-mockery, and this knickers-and-knockers campaign brings that notion into sharp focus.

One observation is in order, I think. I’m not buying the seductive idea that all wokers of the world are stupid. Some are, some aren’t. 

Even rather intelligent people may feel the emotional need to fall in with what they see as majority opinion. It probably isn’t in the population at large, but it may well dominate within some swathes of British society, which is where wokers wish to belong.

So some of them may have some intelligence. Not an excessive amount, but some. What they absolutely can’t have under any circumstances is taste. Revolutionaries, cultural or otherwise, are always tasteless, simply because they’ve pledged their loyalty to a tasteless cause.

Anyway, I wish M&S every measure of success in their marketing venture. That’s guaranteed because the new line can’t lose even if it flops commercially.

A financial loss won’t prevent it from scoring a moral victory. After all, some things soar above filthy lucre, and I’m sure M&S shareholders will see it that way.   

It’s not just what you say, but how you say it

Phonetics matters, ladies and gentlemen. Mispronounce a word, and you can find yourself in trouble, or even in prison.

…for telling us how not to mispronounce Niger

Hence, by way of public service, I’ve been warning people for years to watch how they pronounce Niger and Nigeria.

A slip of the tongue can easily cause offence, and anyone feeling offended may – these days almost certainly will – seek restitution. Even if people don’t really feel offended, they’ll be instructed by authorities to re-examine their feelings and manufacture credible outrage.

Yet David Collins, a geography teacher in South London, either never heard my warnings or regrettably failed to heed them. When the subject of West Africa came up in class, he told his 14-year-old pupils not to pronounce Niger like the word than which nothing worse exists in the English language, nor indeed in our whole galaxy.

To clarify his meaning, he then helpfully provided the mispronunciation to be avoided. Predictably, his pupils didn’t feel helped. They felt offended.

The school administration instantly provided a means of expressing their wrath. Pre-printed complaint forms were issued, and the pupils were encouraged to fill them in, pulling no punches.

(Apparently, most schools provide forms for the pupils to rate their teachers. Someone ought to educate our educators that schools are different from supermarkets. Customer satisfaction forms are appropriate in the latter, not in the former. Unlike a supermarket manager, a teacher must be seen as a figure of authority who educates, not serves, his flock. Nor is it a good idea to encourage the young to snitch.)   

Shaken to its foundation, the school has felt compelled to restate its uncompromising position on its website:

“As part of our commitment to British values and spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, each half term sees a focus on a key issue relating to diversity: gender, LGBTI, immigration, race, different needs (including mental health and being differently abled) and religion. Each half term, our students can purchase badges, make pledges to show their commitment to reducing discrimination and donate to relevant causes.”

These 65 words illustrate, in conjunction with this whole episode, the catastrophe of our education, indeed the dying twilight of our whole civilisation.

A general observation first: no school capable of expressing itself in the kind of English that sounds like a bad translation from the German should be accredited to teach our young.

Since those ‘educators’ themselves speak pidgin English, it’s no wonder their pupils have to be told how not to mispronounce Niger. They evidently haven’t been taught that the first syllable in that word is what phoneticians call ‘open’, meaning ending in a vowel.

That vowel is almost always pronounced as a diphthong. At the same time, the g-sound is usually softened in a pre-vocal position. Hence any pupil aged 14 should naturally pronounce Niger like the name Nigel without the final consonant.

That’s how that country’s name always used to be pronounced in English. However, with the recent tendency towards faux authenticity, we’ve been ordered to use the Franglais pronunciation of Nee-ZHER.

That’s ridiculous: we anglicise many French names, such as Paris or Rheims, so why not Niger? But never mind that – my point is that no one with even a rudimentary knowledge of English would mispronounce that word in the criminal way.

Since the pupils of Chestnut Grove Academy in Balham possess no such knowledge, they have to be told. And the school’s administrators themselves should be told that British schoolchildren are called ‘pupils’, not ‘students’, as they are in America.

Most terms in the school’s mission statement are as offensive as the racial slur in question.  For brevity’s sake I’ll only single out “mental health and differently abled”.

The second term denotes those unable to learn much of anything. But we, the newly sensitive we, can’t say that, can we?

Yes, they may not possess the requisite ability to learn how to read, write, add up and pronounce ‘Niger’. Yet that mustn’t be construed as their having no abilities at all.

They do have abilities, but different ones. For example, those pupils could sell you a gram of coke faster than you can say ‘juvenile delinquent’, and the especially abled among them could perhaps hotwire a car in 20 seconds. I may be looking on the negative side here, but that’s only because I haven’t a clue what those different abilities may be.

As to ‘mental health’, I propose that this term be banned on pain of public flogging. Alas, this proposal hasn’t been, nor ever will be, acted upon. In fact, mental health of the young is one of the hottest news topics these days.

The logical antonym of ‘mental health’ would be ‘mental illness’, like clinical depression, paranoid delusions or schizophrenia. Hence this term belongs in psychiatric literature, not general usage. But ‘mental health’ persists in general usage, designating the opposite of a lousy mood, sadness – or outrage one is mandated to feel whenever Niger is mispronounced.

According to current data, 55 per cent of British youngsters have sought professional help for a deficit of ‘mental health’. Nevertheless, one has to discount, after momentary hesitation, the possibility that over half of our young people are, clinically speaking, nutters.

It’s just that they are drowning in the sewage of psychobabble flooding the classrooms of schools like Chestnut Grove Academy, which is to say most schools. Psychobabble and aggressive, fascisoid wokery are portrayed as the right, increasingly only, tools for inculcating “British values”.

These values are of recent vintage. In the past, the British used to be a nation of warriors, explorers, adventurers, inventors, entrepreneurs, risk takers, sturdy individuals able to take the rough with the smooth.

Now they are mass-produced to become effete snowflakes who respond to anything upsetting by running to Mummy or, when slightly older, to a shrink. In between such visits, they are indoctrinated with the tenets of the socially and culturally destructive pseudo-morality guaranteed to turn them into perverse, brain-dead barbarians.

It takes much hatred of Britain to describe the outcome of this subversive effort as ‘British values’. The prefix anti- must have fallen off by accident.

But what if history starts out as a farce?

When Marx wrote that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce, he didn’t account for the possibility of the reverse sequence.

The actors have played their parts

Yet the Biden-Putin summit, inaugurating the interplay between Russia and America for the next four years, shows that this possibility is very real. We were served up a farce, and a tragedy may be just around the corner.

Biden has been hailed in the American press for his self-restraint, belying the steely resolve underneath. No one seems to realise that Putin played Biden – and the sycophantic ‘liberal’ media – for a sucker. People in the West don’t seem to grasp the salient difference between the two chaps.

Biden’s words may not be deeds, but they still are words. The nature of Western governance is that politicians may be held to account for things they say. That’s why they so often, practically always, utter vacuous, noncommittal statements, trying not to give their opposition an opening. They can’t just say any old thing and hope to get away with it.

Putin’s words aren’t words. They are KGB ops, solely designed to deceive, provoke, unsettle, trick – whatever works to complete the mission.

The mission is to defeat the West politically, to force it to accept the legitimacy of the Russian regime and Putin personally, giving them a free hand to do as they will. Such a victory must not only be won, but it must also be seen to have been won.

Acting on his childhood experience as a self-described “common Petersburg thug”, later parlayed into a career within history’s most murderous organisation, Putin knows how to declare victory without actually uttering words to that effect.

The technique he uses comes straight from Petersburg’s back alleys, where the bully knows he can say anything he wants without anyone daring to disagree. The message is, “Oh yeah? So what are you going to do about it?”

Just look at the way he handled the issue of Navalny, whose Anti-Corruption Foundation (ACF) has been a thorn in Vlad’s side for years. To jog your memory, Putin’s Lucretia Borgias poisoned Navalny with novichok.

Yet they didn’t get the dose quite right, which is always a problem. Too high, and the poison will be instantly detectable in postmortem. Too little, and the target may survive.

That’s what happened in this case: Putin’s hitmen only succeeded in putting Navalny in a coma, not in a coffin. Still unconscious, he was taken to Germany for treatment, and his life was saved.

Navalny then returned to Russia, knowing he’d end up in prison. So it proved. He was accused of jumping parole and sentenced to 3.5 years in a penal colony.

When queried about this, Putin delivered his back-alley jive. Navalny, he said, had committed a crime by escaping to Germany. Hold on, Vlad, but surely, being in a coma, he didn’t have much choice in that matter? Oh yeah? So what are you going to do about it?

Then Putin corrected a widespread misapprehension. People treat Navalny and his ACF as legitimate political opposition. In fact, they are nothing but terrorists, teaching their supporters how to make Molotov cocktails.

But Vlad, the ACF was established in 2011, and in the intervening 10 years they haven’t committed a single terrorist act. Nor is there a shred of evidence that they are planning one. Oh yeah? So what are you going to do about it?

Biden tried to answer that implicit question by threatening “devastating consequences” should Navalny die in prison. By the looks of it, the devastating consequences will take the shape of another stern expression of deep concern.

Anyway, why weren’t there any consequences, devastating or otherwise, when the previous opposition leader, Boris Nemtsov, was shot dead a few feet from the Kremlin wall? Or when another opposition leader, Anna Politkovskaya, was murdered? Or after dozens of other dissidents (Starovytova, Shchekochihin, Sheremet, Litvinenko et al.)  were ‘whacked’ in Russia and elsewhere?

Where were the consequences of a London restaurant being poisoned with polonium and half of Salisbury with novichok? What about that Chechen émigré shot in Germany? Boris Berezovsky garrotted in London? Alexander Perepelichny poisoned in Surrey?

And why just threaten consequences? Why respond to the Navalny poisoning with merely token sanctions against a few Russian officials? That was supposed to send a signal to Putin, but a much stronger one was sent by Biden’s suspending sanctions against Nord Stream 2 contractors, effectively strengthening Putin’s ability to blackmail Europe with his energy cosh.

Biden did mutter something about human rights in Russia, giving Vlad a chance to embellish on the answer his foreign minister Lavrov once gave to his British then-counterpart David Miliband: “Who are you to fucking lecture me?” (At the time I was shocked by the split infinitive.)

What about those poor souls, said the Petersburg thug, who expressed their peaceful political opposition in Washington on 6 January, 2021? Hundreds of them were arrested, many will go to prison. Where are the human rights in that, eh?

Hold on, Vlad. They weren’t arrested for voicing dissent. They were arrested for storming the US Capitol, with five people dying and 140 injured as a result. So that analogy doesn’t work. Oh yeah? So what are going to do about it?

Then Biden raised the issue of cyberattacks on US political and commercial institutions. We have hackers too, threatened Joe. We can retaliate – will retaliate, especially if you hit one of our 16 vital infrastructure facilities.

Biden apparently named those lucky 16 to Putin, but he kept the public in the dark. Those outside the red line must be on edge, and even those inside can’t relax if they can’t be sure on which side of the line they fall.

Biden also expressed his deep concern (that dread phrase again) about the recent concentration of Russian troops on the Ukraine border. Hey, those were Russian troops moving around Russia, objected Vlad. Our troops, our country, we can do as we please.

And anyway, the Minsk Protocol is still in force, and it’s the only valid basis for even discussing the Ukraine. Putin was referring to the 2014 ceasefire agreement that followed Russia’s aggression against the Ukraine. Actually, Russia has been violating those accords with such metronomic regularity that they can only function as part of the aforementioned ‘Oh yeah?’ stance.

Much more germane to the conversation would have been the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, whereby the US and the UK guaranteed the Ukraine’s security in exchange for her relinquishing nuclear weapons. Yet invoking that document would have added a touch of realism to the unfolding farce, and Biden didn’t want to step out of character.

Until recently, Putin had only talked in that openly mocking way to the paper-trained Russian media and, through them, Russian people. Now he clearly feels strong enough to adopt the same public posture before the West, which doesn’t bode well for any of us.

For Putin seems certain he can now run his op worldwide and succeed, as he did in this case. Biden got nothing out of those talks, whereas Putin got exactly what he needed: an equal place at the international table.

Biden implicitly endorsed that elevation by calling Putin “a worthy adversary” with whom he spoke “the same language”. And he accepted Russia as “a great power”. QED

With a meagre three per cent of world GDP, Russia certainly isn’t a great economic power. But she punches way above her economic weight because she possesses a large number of nuclear warheads. It’s the greatness of a schoolyard bully, not of a bespectacled straight-A pupil.

Now, China, with over 18 per cent of world GDP, is a great economic power, which makes many observers, including some who ought to know better, regard her as the greatest threat to the West.

First, I’m not aware of any rule saying that the West can have only one threat at a time. Second, I see no evidence that China presents an immediate political threat. One doesn’t see Chinese troops in action anywhere in the world, and neither does China try to undermine Western elections and buy up Western politicians and parties wholesale.

Third, and most important, Russia and China are both ruled by disgusting regimes that hate the West. That makes them natural allies who can launch a two-prong offensive against us, economic (China) and political (Russia). I don’t know if any formal agreement has been reached between the two, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were in the near future.

China may eventually accumulate enough wealth to put a python-like squeeze on Western economies and monetary systems. Russia can at the same time keep “probing the West with the bayonet”, in Lenin’s phrase.

China, with her vast industrial capacity, doesn’t need political pinpricks to achieve her goals. Russia does, and one of the goals is to be accepted by the West as a “worthy [meaning equal] adversary”.

That goal was largely achieved in Geneva a week ago, with Biden agreeing to play his role in the farce.

We must have more rapes

I know this sounds just awful. But it’s one of the possible conclusions to be drawn from this morning’s Sky News report.

Its presenter, Kate Burley, whose politics would place her somewhere between Jeremy Corbyn and Notting Hill, interviewed two government ministers, one in charge of domestic crime, the other of crime in general.

Isn’t it wonderful how finely our government divides responsibilities, each calling for a separate ministry? That’s definitely a step in the right direction. Racing along that road, I’m sure we’ll soon have a Minister for Muggings, one for Racial Slurs, another one for Burglaries… No, scratch that last one. Burglary has been decriminalised in the UK, or as near as damn.

Anyway, Kate nailed both Tories to the wall with her questions about a report showing that fewer rape cases are now being brought to trial. She held both politicians personally responsible for that outrage, and they both expressed the requisite regrets and abject shame, promising to do something about that scandal in short order.

Kate’s assumption – nay certainty – clearly was that misogynist cops, prosecutors and judges refuse to pursue rape cases. Possibly that’s because they think it takes two to tango. Or else they feel that women egg men on by wearing short skirts. Or perhaps those fossils get off on rape stories and see them as nothing but titillating entertainment.

Now if that’s the case, then justice isn’t being served, and things have to change. However, both ministers and their inquisitor didn’t even broach the possibility that the reason there are fewer rape cases being tried is that fewer rapes are being committed.

That would explain their predicament and light up a clear path to corrective measures. They should encourage men to rape more women more often.

That would instantly drive up the number of such cases reaching the Old Bailey, getting the government off the hook and putting a wide smile on Kate’s face and also on the visages of Jeremy Corbyn and every resident of Notting Hill.

Here I have to disappoint them. I’ve given up rape, partly because the pillow talk is too limited. A loquacious chap like me wouldn’t be happy with such foreplay exchanges as “Shut up or I’ll slit your throat!” and “Please don’t!” Then again, now that I’m in my dotage, most women could probably take me in hand-to-hand combat.

But the strong, silent types among my male readers should be able to oblige, which I strongly encourage them to do. We none of us want to upset Kate Burley.

Then there’s another possibility worth mentioning. That there may be fewer cases with enough evidence to bring to court.

Here we hit the nail right on the head. For the belief reaching dominance fast is that the standards of evidential proof in rape cases ought to be much laxer than in any other crime (with the possible exception of racial slurs, which will soon be handled by a specially designated ministry).

Let’s try to get to the bottom of that. In the past, a crime of rape offended two entities: the victim and the law. Hence it was treated like any other crime against person or property, where the offended parties fell into the same two categories. The plank of the evidence sufficient to dispel reasonable doubt was set high in all such cases – and, more important, equally high.

That has changed, as far as rape is concerned. For this crime offends not against two entities, but three: the victim, the law – and, critically, the woke ethos raised to a level of religious orthodoxy.

This adds a metaphysical dimension to the forensic procedure, and metaphysics doesn’t necessarily depend on physical evidence for its vindication. The ideal the likes of Kate Burley see in their mind’s eye is for every man accused of rape to be charged, tried and found guilty, regardless of any proof beyond reasonable doubt.

Even if that particular defendant didn’t rape that particular woman, that’s like shooting fish in a barrel – you can’t miss. There’s a rapist lurking in every man’s breast, isn’t there? Of course, there is. Every feminist worth her salt will tell you so.

Then, if the chap is actually guilty, it’ll be a crime punished. And if he isn’t, it’s a crime prevented. No man can be scrubbed clean of the original sin of being a rapist either in actuality or waiting to happen.

Still, it’s good to see that on a slow news day both our media and government officials have been able to isolate the most critical problem plaguing Her Majesty’s realm. The narrower the focus, the clearer the vision – and Godspeed to all of them.

The French are undergoing a cultural collapse

The words are simply refusing to come together in a sentence. So I’ll have to write them one by one.

This is dill, mes amis. Good with fish.

Young. French. People. Know. Nothing. About. Food. Any. Longer. I’m sure you can string these words together. But can you understand their full implication?

It’s as if Italians stopped pinching women’s bottoms on public transport. Or Russians, drinking toxic amounts of vodka. Or Britons, chanting “If it wasn’t for England, you’d all be Krauts” at football matches. Or Americans, confusing Austria with Australia, Sweden with Switzerland and not giving a damn. Or the Dutch, producing and consuming mountains of mediocre cheese.

If such calamities occurred, all those people would still be there in body. But their soul would be gone, their idiosyncratic character no longer recognisable.

That’s why I’m worried about the French. For gastronomy is a part of their national character that’s both essential and immutable. Or so I thought.

Then, over the past few years I’ve had many opportunities to observe young French people, and not just uneducated ones, struggling to identify some basic food items.

We have (or rather had before the lockdown season) a small Sunday market across the street from us in London. Many of the tradesmen and half the customers were French, the latter mostly working in finance.

One would expect those young professionals on the rise to continue the fine traditions of French gourmandising. Yet every now and then they displayed woeful ignorance.

Once, for example, I observed a well-dressed couple thoroughly befuddled by the sight of parsnips and swedes. They were looking at that exotica the way Man Friday looked at the salt shaker in Robinson’s hands.

The novelty struck them to the core. They asked each other if they had ever seen such amazing things, and neither of them had. What are they called? Not a clue.

Being by nature an obliging sort, I helpfully provided the French words for parsnip (panais) and swede (rutabaga). They looked at me not so much with gratitude as with awe, the way Venetians must have looked at Marco Polo who, on his return home from his voyage, told his friends that those odd Chinese cut dough into long strips and then boil them. “Delizioso, amici!

If reasonably educated Frenchmen can have such lacunae in their culinary knowledge, what kind of expectations can one have of youngsters working in French supermarkets? Pretty low, I dare say, and they live down to them.

People working at checkouts routinely fail to identify simple foods, especially vegetables and herbs. Hence they don’t know how to run them through and have to call for help. The help arrives after some five minutes, in the shape of their older manager who looks as if she thinks the holdup is our fault.

This morning, for example, a young man, probably a student doing a summer job, didn’t know what dill was. My supplying the word missing from his lexicon, aneth, didn’t ring a bell, and neither could he locate that mind-boggling item on his computer.

Penelope had to run back to the vegetable section and look up the item code, which took some time, much to the displeasure of the people behind us in the queue. She then told me not to use such language in public, even in English.

A trivial matter, you would think, and so it is. Or rather would be if it weren’t indicative of a general decline in taste.

I’ve been shopping in rural French supermarkets for some twenty years now, never missing an opportunity to peek into other shoppers’ trolleys. And let me tell you, their contents have changed even during this relatively short time.

If a generation ago most trolleys contained fresh vegetables, good bread, fruit and the ingredients for the ubiquitous local staple, boeuf bourguignon, nowadays they squeak under the weight of frozen pizzas, ready-made meals and revolting fizzy drinks.

It’s 20 years ago I’m talking about, not 450 or so, which was when Catherine de’ Medici married the French king Charles IX and brought some Italian chefs over in her trousseau. The Italians then taught the French that there was infinitely more to cooking than just roasting a whole wild boar on a spit.

Credit where it’s due, the French turned out to be able pupils, who have since created a great cuisine of their own. So great, in fact, that it has gone into much of what adds up to their national character.

One wonders, if they are busily abandoning that part, what other parts are also falling by the wayside. Quite a few, I’d suggest.

Inexplicably, French youngsters of the lower classes are beginning to mimic the behavioural patterns of their British counterparts. As in all such cases, the worst aspects find it easier to cross national borders.

For example, on weekends young Frenchmen often present at hospitals in a lager-induced coma – they seem to think that drinking 20 pints of beer is as cool as listening to rap and punk, which they assume all rosbifs do. Then there are tattoos and facial metal, practically unseen in France twenty years ago.

At that time there was not a single tattoo parlour in our regional centre, Auxerre. Now there are half a dozen, and one sees their customers roaming the glorious medieval streets and making me look away in revulsion.

These are small details, but they are the kind in which the devil lives. I could easily extrapolate from there into the general collapse of Western, not just French, civilisation. But that would be superfluous – you don’t need me to observe our universal relapse into barbarism.

Alas, it’s also observable in weightier areas than just fruit and veg.