For my many faithful readers, you may have been alarmed and perturbed by my recent absence, and you are wondering why. I suspect you are feeling lonely and unloved, and crave an explanation.
The explanation is somewhat mundane, although you may feel, as I do, that sinister forces are at work. Three weeks ago, my wife and I decided to take a short break in the Algarve, where, according to the promotional blurb, the sun spends the winter. Not this winter!
We chose Squeezijet as our preferred carrier, although, if the truth be known, we were not exactly spoiled for choice. It was either that or Ryanair, better known as FlyinFear, and the only airline with outside lavatories.
We arrived to grey skies, a cool wind and steady rain, but we comforted ourselves in the belief that it would soon blow over, with blue skies and sunshine just round the corner. Not so. The word on the beach was that a belt of cold air was coming from east of the Urals, and immediate suspicion fell on Vladimir Putin. And like a bad smell, it hung around for days.
I was amazed that Putin found time to interfere with the weather when he was in the middle of a re-election campaign for president, and by all accounts, it was on a knife edge. The only credible candidate was Alexei Navalny, a brave yet foolhardy man who stood up to Putin and for his temerity, was subsequently barred from standing in the election following a trumped up charge of fraud. In passing, if fraud were a sound basis for disqualifying a candidate, why was Putin standing?
In the absence of Navalny, the next best candidate to unseat Putin was Bozo the clown.
It’s a strange business being a dictator. You seize power for the good of the people, you suppress all opposition, again for the good of the people, you starve millions of your fellow countrymen, again for the good of those who survive, always ensuring there’s more than enough for you, your cronies and the army, and to legitimise your oppressive behaviour, you call elections from time to time which are rigged, so that you can declare to the world and his dog that your government is for the people and by the people.
But what I want to know, why bother?