Last week I described a long-ago Christmas in Moscow, in those days the capital city of one of the maddest ideas that ever seized the human mind. It was a crazy place, needlessly dangerous, dirty, corrupt, desperately inefficient.
One fact about it will tell you a lot. We always kept a spare can of petrol in the boot of the car (for petrol could suddenly disappear from the scarce pumps without warning) in case we needed to get to the airport in a hurry.
Because, if any of us was seriously ill, the only wise thing to do was to get the first plane out to Helsinki, where up-to-date medical treatment, modern drugs and clean conditions were available.
There we were, in the heart of a state supposedly dedicated to the ideal of human equality, and the only good hospital in the whole country was hidden behind a 15ft wall, in guarded private grounds, available solely to a few dozen members of the Communist Party Central Committee.
The USSR was also supposed to be dedicated to plenty but the official shops were empty. The joke described a woman going into one of these ornate places and asking one of the many unoccupied staff if they had any fish – to which the helpful reply was: ‘No, this is the shop where we don’t have any meat. The shop which doesn’t have any fish is just there across the road.’
During my time there, this was more or less an accurate account of real life. If you wanted meat, then the black market was where you went – except for the privileged Communists, who had their own special shops and supplies.
The point of this story is not to dance on the grave of the Soviet Union. It is dead and gone. It is to warn against the creation of another society, just as stupid, and equally driven by ideas which look good and nice at the beginning.
For years here I have warned against the Green dogma which has largely replaced Communism in the minds of the global Left. Like Communism, it has a noble goal, the saving of the planet.
This goal is in fact so noble that it causes its supporters to sweep aside all doubt and restraint. They are so good and so right that any opposition is wicked, all doubt is unforgivable. In the minds of these people, a golden future lies just beyond the next hill, provided by sunshine and windmills.
Every few months for some years I have marked the wanton destruction of efficient, useful, modern coal-fired power stations – not cautiously mothballed in case they are needed again, but swiftly blown up with high explosives, relying on a certainty about the future which no sane person should claim to possess.
I have noted the folly of failing to renew or sustain our nuclear power stations, pointing out that a programme for building them would be a far better use of the cash poured into the modernisation of our unusable, grandiose Trident nuclear missile system. This is a Cold War superpower weapon, when we are no longer a superpower and the Cold War has been over for 30 years. You might as well build huge new factories dedicated to making black-and-white TV sets for export.
Now the threat I warned of has arrived. Sunshine and wind cannot power this country. So, without coal and nuclear power, we have become hopelessly reliant on the quick fix of gas-fired power stations, which are not even Green. And gas has become so expensive that all of us can now expect to pay vastly increased power bills very soon.
By next autumn, we will all be paying hard cash to sustain the dogmatic lunacy of a power elite wholly gripped with Green zealotry. Good luck organising an economic recovery while this is going on. The country will begin to get colder and darker. Because, like the Red fanaticism it replaced and which it so strongly resembles, Green zealotry never blames itself for the disasters it causes.
It goes on and on until it becomes intolerable and falls.
A foolish silence
For some time I have tried to find out if drugs – especially marijuana – may have been involved in cases of apparently irrational violence. This is because the excellent Ross Grainger has compiled the website Attacker Smoked Cannabis, which records the huge number of crazed violent crimes in this country, where the perpetrator has been found to have been taking this drug. I suspect there are many more, where it never comes out.
The police are astonishingly unhelpful in such matters. I think this may be because they are rightly embarrassed about their almost total failure to enforce the law against marijuana possession.
Anyway, you might like to know that when I asked if any investigation had been made into whether the suspect in the recent Windsor Castle incident had used illegal drugs, Scotland Yard refused to answer the question.
A dreadful Duchess who shamed herself
I am not sure what is especially British about A Very British Scandal, so oddly dramatised last week by the BBC. Margaret Whigham, third wife of the Duke of Argyll, grew up in New York City and her life was, mostly, so cushioned by money that it could have been anywhere where there were rich people.
Any sympathy I might have had for her vanished when it turned out that she had cruelly forged a letter to try to turn the Duke against his young sons by a previous marriage. The letter claimed the boys had been fathered by someone else. This was surely the work of a monster. The drama ends with an announcement on screen that the divorce case in which the Duchess’s advanced sexual activities were revealed was ‘the first time a woman was publicly shamed by the UK mass media’.
Can this be true? You could make a very good case for saying she had publicly shamed herself. But, apparently, we are supposed to think that this nasty, super-wealthy adventurer was some sort of prototype strong woman, Germaine Greer before her time.
As usual, there was no real attempt to recreate the past. Just old cars, old hats and old frocks. Even the swearing was modern, totally reliant on the F-word as it was not in those days.
To make up for this, everyone smoked all the time everywhere. Please somebody correct me if I am wrong but I do not think that even dukes, let alone reporters, were ever allowed to smoke during divorce cases in court.
Claire Foy, left, more or less repeated her role as the Queen from The Crown. Is it now a rule that all major dramas must star either Ms Foy or Olivia Colman?
A brief appearance by the marvellous, shiningly intelligent Phoebe Nicholls, who long ago played Cordelia in Brideshead Revisited, was a reminder of how much other talent there is and how little it is used.
Act to keep death off pavements
On Thursday afternoon I stepped out of a bookshop on Kensington High Street and was almost eradicated by a phalanx of four e-scooters speeding along the pavement, each bearing a fit young man.
I tried, for the sake of form, to point out that this was illegal. They just sneered and sped on. I reckon I very nearly ended up in hospital. There were of course no police to be seen (I did eventually come across one later, with a gun on his hip, heading back to sentry duty at some embassy). This is the future everywhere if Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is not persuaded to change his mind.
Author: Peter Hitchens