But for Russia, what news items would pique your interest? Dave Cameron’s recipe for pig’s cheeks? A duchess sleeping with her estate keeper? Even weather forecasts on Russian TV are more fun than that.
The other day a curvaceous girl did an impersonation of a Channel 4 weathercaster, complete with a dazzling smile and an electronic map superimposed on the backdrop.
The girl pointed at the map, allowing the viewers a good look at her figure. Thus distracted, they took a few seconds to realise that the map showed not Russia but Syria.
The beauty then conveyed some meteorological data of vital importance to Russians. October, she announced, is an ideal time for bombing raids on Syria.
The average temperature is only 21C, there will be but three overcast days, the maximum precipitation is 7mm, and top wind speed is a meagre 15m/sec.
Any temperature below 35C, she explained, putting the desiccated data into context, is ideal for bombing, especially with little interference from the elements. She sounded like her Channel 4 colleague reassuring Londoners that the cricket test match is unlikely to be rained off.
The bombing the young lady was talking about was old-fashioned blockbusters dropped from high-flying planes. Ever the traditionalists, the Russians only resort to laser-guided ordnance in four per cent of cases.
Other than that, it’s just indiscriminate slaughter. The tactic isn’t all bad, however, since, while high-altitude bombs may fall on wrong people, they’re unlikely to fall on a wrong country.
That’s more than can be said for Russian cruise missiles launched at Syria from 900 miles away. Anything the Yanks could do in Iraq, we can do better in Syria, said Vlad, pushing the button.
Unfortunately, four of his 26 missiles veered off course and hit Iran. The country affected didn’t make a big stink about it because the ayatollahs know that Vlad is their ally. Provided the other 22 missiles hit those infidel Sunni pigs, may Allah turn their mothers into toads, the ayatollahs were happy.
How the US forces will react if accidentally hit by stray Russian missiles is anybody’s guess. Suffice it to say that under such circumstances soldiers sometimes act impulsively rather than prudently.
The danger of accidental conflagration is high, and the choice of possible flash points is wide. Nato and Russia are facing each other in the Baltics, the Middle East, the Ukraine and Turkey. Statistics are beginning to work against us dying of old age.
Political talk shows on Russian TV offer an even greater entertainment value than the weathercasts. Semyon Bagdasarov, the Duma’s Middle Eastern expert, dazzled the audience of a top chat show with his erudition, supporting an unassailable syllogism:
Orthodox Christianity was born in Syria, specifically in Antioch. Russia is Orthodox. Ergo, he screamed triumphantly, “Syria is our land!”
This logic is hard to fault but easy to extend. Even though Antioch was indeed part of the Syrian tetrapolis, making the parliamentarian’s claim irrefutable, it’s now in Turkey, which automatically makes this country “our land” too.
Then again, Antioch is only one Orthodox patriarchate. Rome, Jerusalem and Alexandria are others, and hence they clearly ought to belong to Russia by right.
Since Italy, Egypt and Israel may prove recalcitrant in the face of Russia’s just demand that those cities be transferred to the Russian Federation, these countries must also receive their share of meandering cruise missiles.
Israel in particular should brace herself. Not only is she home to an Orthodox patriarchate, she’s also the birthplace of Christianity in general. Since Russia is the world’s last stronghold of that religion, Israel is clearly “our land”.
Also, let’s not forget the vast number of Israeli Russophones. Didn’t Vlad declare it his sacred duty to protect not just Russia, but the whole “Russian World”, which elusive term is defined in cultural and linguistic terms?
That’s Israel spoken for. And what about millions of Russians living in New York, Paris and London? And weren’t Poland and Finland parts of the Russian Empire? Aren’t Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia Orthodox even now, never mind back in ancient history?
When Russia’s hot, she’s hot. If she ever cools off, we’ll again live in an utterly boring world.