The government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda has drawn three major criticisms. First, that it is inhumane. Second, that it will be incredibly expensive. And third, that it still won’t deter large numbers of desperate immigrants from risking their lives trying to sail from France to England.
Still, there is no need for Boris Johnson to worry. Salvation is at hand. Because a reader of this column, Mr. Tony Monks of Chichester, emailed me to suggest an alternative policy that, in his opinion, avoids all three of these pitfalls.
Monks argues that the main reason so many asylum seekers try to get to Britain is so they can speak at least some English. After all, it is the most widely spoken language in the world, much more widely spoken than any other European language.
Therefore, he says, the solution is simple. We should be spending our international aid budget on teaching everyone in the Middle East, and other volatile parts of the world, to speak French fluently. So if the inhabitants ever end up fleeing their home countries, they will all happily settle in France, rather than risk the perilous journey across the Channel.
Priti Patel has said that this crisis requires a “bold and innovative” solution, and Mr. Monks’ suggestion certainly meets those criteria. Anyway, I think it’s important to keep in mind the main reason why English is so widely spoken.
It is not simply because, hundreds of years ago, Britain colonized so many countries. After all, the Empire is now a distant memory. No, the main reason that people all over the world learn English these days is because that is the language that the United States speaks. And no country on Earth has more cultural influence than the United States.
Therefore, to prevent so many desperate asylum seekers from trying to sail to Britain, we must stop America from speaking English. And the only way to do that is for Britain to conquer America, so we can force everyone to speak French.
Conquering the US may not seem like an easy task, but in recent years the American public seems to have developed an almost neurotic terror of becoming involved in military conflict, so our prospects for success may be greater than we think. I suggest we invade sometime in the afternoon, while President Biden is napping.
Rock of Ages
At the age of 49, Liam Gallagher has admitted he suffers from arthritis and was advised by nurses to have a double hip replacement. The former Oasis frontman, however, has refused because he believes that, for a rock’n’roll star like him, a hip operation carries too much “stigma”. In other words: he worries that people will think that he is old and out of date.
Nonsense. Once upon a time, a rock singer might as well have been mocked for having a hip operation. But not these days. We now live in a world where Sir Paul McCartney has been booked to headline Glastonbury the week after his 80th birthday. Clearly, age discrimination in rock is a thing of the past.
Go back to the 1980s, when Mr. Gallagher was growing up, and it was a very different picture. In those days, rock was a young man’s game, and anyone over 35 was seen as a drooling nursing home. When George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty formed The Traveling Wilburys in 1988, journalists referred to them as “old statesmen”, “veterans”, “great men of rock”. However, Petty was only 37 years old, and all the other members except Orbison were years younger than Liam Gallagher is now.
The following year, 1989, the rock magazine Q ran a cover story on the Rolling Stones, satirically titled “Lock up your grandmothers!” At that time, Mick Jagger was only 46 years old.
The Stones singer was a common target of age-related teasing. In 1990, when Morrissey was a fresh-faced 31-year-old, he wrote a song that began, “Oh you old fool, you old fool, you’re making a fool of yourself, so get off the stage.” Rock journalists were sure he was singing about Jagger.
In any case, it seems that Morrissey no longer believes that older artists should be pushed aside. This summer he has been booked to give a series of concerts in Las Vegas, at the age of 63.
Even Jagger himself used to cringe at the concept of the aging rock star. In June 1975, when he was 31, he told People magazine, “I’d rather be dead than sing Satisfaction when I’m 45.”
However, on July 27 this year, he will sing it in a 62,000-capacity stadium in Germany, the day after his 79th birthday.
Jeremy Corbyn’s views on the Russian invasion of Ukraine remain a subject of intrigue. In an interview this week, the former Labor leader was asked if he admires Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“I don’t know,” Corbyn replied dryly. “I never met him.”
It seems like a funny rule to live by: that you can only decide if you admire someone after you’ve met them. What makes it even more curious is that, in 2018, Corbyn told the bbc that the person she most admired was the proto-feminist writer and thinker Mary Wollstonecraft. Who, as historians will confirm, was born on April 27, 1759.
Since Mr. Corbyn can only decide if he admires someone after he has met them, this suggests that instead of dying in the year 1797 as scholars have always believed, Mrs. Wollstonecraft is alive and well today.
If so, on Wednesday of next week he will be celebrating his 263rd birthday. I hope he invited his old friend and admirer, Mr. Corbyn, to the party.
‘Way of the World’ is a twice weekly satirical look at the headlines with the aim of poking fun at the absurdities of the modern world. It is published at 7 am every Tuesday and Saturday.
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