THIS time last year we would have been understandably worried if we heard some Russian nut job was threatening the UK with nuclear annihilation.
But a year after Russia invaded Ukraine, we barely blink when the nukes are hurtling our way.
“London will turn to dust!” shouted Putin’s propagandist Vladimir Solovyov this week, outraged by reports that the British government is to supply Ukraine with more weapons.
Solovyov is a major TV star in Russia, host of a popular evening show on the Russia-1 channel.
So his threats are similar to Richard Madeley calling for Moscow to be shot on Good Morning Britain.
We do not take those of the nuclear warmonger Solovyov seriously.
But it should.
Because this is our war too.
The first anniversary of Russia’s insane invasion of Ukraine was on Friday, and it won’t be over anytime soon.
Even if the UK gives Ukraine the fighter jets it craves, it is likely to take years.
And even if Putin were to go, there’s nothing to suggest he won’t be replaced by another rabid Russian nationalist.
The unpleasant truth is that Russia’s war of murderous aggression has enormous support among the brainwashed Russian population.
The heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people to Putin’s unprovoked invasion will go down in history.
But already there are those in the West who fear the prospect of Ukraine winning this war.
Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, warns: “Russia cannot end up like Germany in 1919 – it must be able to recover and be safe without being allowed to repeat its aggression.”
Russia deserves to end up like Germany in 1945.
But expect more calls to appease Putin as the war continues.
The West will inevitably tire of this war. It will seem very far away.
We will feel that the extremely expensive kit we send to Ukraine is never enough.
What if Ukraine’s F-16s don’t want to end the war?
We will feel – perhaps sooner than we think – that we really can’t afford it.
More voices of doubt will be raised. What is President Zelensky waiting for? Doesn’t he always want more?
Ukraine will be forced to negotiate with its Russian invaders — especially if there is eventually a Republican President in the White House and a Labor Prime Minister in 10 Downing Street.
But it will be our war. Even when we are tired of hearing it.
Even when we are tired of paying for it.
There is no peace for the world as long as Russia is in Ukraine.
Putin has started a war he can never win. Even if Putin’s wildest dreams came true and his army marched triumphantly through the streets of Kiev—as was widely expected to happen when Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine a year ago—Putin would be occupying a country where 43 million people hate his guts.
And they are willing to die for their freedom.
Even if Putin subjugated Ukraine, Russia would inherit another Vietnam, another Afghanistan—a conflict that the aggressor can never win, even if it drags on for 20 years.
But if Russia doesn’t have a clear path to victory, then neither does Ukraine.
When NHS nurses tell us they don’t earn a living wage, it’s hard to sustain an endless enthusiasm for sending more weapons to Ukraine.
Don’t we have our own problems?
Yes, we certainly do.
But Putin is one of them.
And Russia, that rogue state with nuclear weapons, is one of them.
Ukrainians are fighting for their freedom.
But every time London is threatened with Russian nuclear bombs, we are reminded that Ukraine is also fighting for our freedom.
LEAVE DAHL ALONE
Rewriting Roald Dahl’s books is cultural vandalism.
Dahl’s publishers – Puffin – have given themselves permission to rewrite our greatest storyteller as they see fit.
“Words matter,” says Puffin in the new editions of Dahl’s books.
“This book was written many years ago, so we regularly review the language to ensure it can continue to be enjoyed by everyone today.”
Dahl’s books will never be enjoyed if they have been censored by some nameless cretin at his publishing house.
Hundreds of changes have already been made.
Cloud Men in James and Giant Peach are now Cloud People.
In Matilda, our bookish hero “went on the old sailing ships with Joseph Conrad.”
But now Matilda “went to the 19th century estates with Jane Austen”.
Augustus Gloop – the immortal glutton from Charlie And The Chocolate Factory – is no longer fat.
“That grumpy old cow in the living room has all these rotten diseases,” Dahl writes in George’s Marvelous Medicine.
Which goes, “Grandma has all these rotten diseases.”
Roald Dahl would explode.
He sold 250 million books. He knew what he was doing.
This censorship would not have happened if he was still alive.
If his publishers created an item in the Dahl world, they wouldn’t have to rewrite his books.
Why not burn them?
BBC Radio 2 has replaced Ken Bruce with Vernon Kay.
He – why?
ROYAL ROAST A JOY
Harry and Meghan were mercilessly mocked in South Park as the privacy-seeking Prince and Princess of Canada, a couple of self-obsessed, self-pitying, private-jet-flying narcissists.
America’s honeymoon with Harry and Meghan lasted long enough.
Looks like the honeymoon is over.
He has no principles and no new ideas,” Conservative Party chairman Greg Hunts says of Keir Starmer.
I’m not sure it ever stopped anyone from becoming Prime Minister.
The Director Who Loved Me – Tim’s Bond girl
Sloppy director Tim Burton, 64, falls in love with Italian actress, model and Bond girl Monica Bellucci.
“If you don’t leave now, we’re going to die together,” Monica memorably told 007 in Spectre.
“I can think of worse ways to go,” smiled Daniel Craig.
With films like Edward Scissorhands and Beetlejuice, Burton has arguably the most original imagination in Hollywood.
But what the hell does he see in her?
BOWIE’S POWERFUL LEGACY
“I KEPT everything,” David Bowie told me in 1993 when he urged me to take three years off to write his autobiography.
And I thought – not all, surely, David.
But Bowie really kept everything, videos, diaries, album art.
The jumpsuit he wore on his first appearance on Top of The Pops.
Every outrageous stage costume, every familiar notebook, every musical instrument.
Bowie’s obsessive hoarding paid unimaginable dividends.
The exhibition on his life and career at the Victoria And Albert museum in 2013 was – by some means – the biggest exhibition I have ever seen in my life, a thrilling barrage of sound and vision eventually seen by two million people.
There were rumors that Bowie himself – heavily disguised – was one of them.
Now the V&A has acquired 80,000 Bowie artefacts which are to be exhibited at the David Bowie Center for the Study of Performing Arts, due to open in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in East London in 2025.
If it’s anything like the 2013 V&A Bowie exhibition, it will become a tourist attraction for rival Buckingham Palace.
MOTSON WAS SO LOVED
JOHN MOTSON, the beloved voice of the national game, has left us at the age of 77.
Motson provided the ecstatic soundtrack to some of football’s greatest moments, from England’s World Cup penalty shootout to Gaza’s stunning goal against Scotland to Ronnie Radford’s scream when Hereford played Newcastle in a plowed stadium in 1972.
John lacked the lyrical flourish of a Kenneth Wolstenholme. Motty stuck to the basics.
“England is out!”
“Oh what a goal!”
But no one took us closer to the pure heart of football
And that is why John Motson was so loved.
PUT IT IN A DOG BAG, TA
LUCY the Golden Retriever stages a sit-in every time she passes a Greggs, asking for one of their sausage rolls.
“It sits and does this thing where it refuses to move,” says owner Cara Ovens, from Edinburgh.
“She’s probably Greggs dog’s biggest fan. He loves the smell and gets a little treat every few weeks.”
Surprisingly, our dog, Stan the cavalier King Charles Spaniel, feels the same way about Caffé Nero.
It requires us to enter every Nero we pass.
It deals with Nero cheese toasties, chicken sandwiches and, with a push, croissant crumbs on the floor.
On Christmas Day, the one day Nero is closed, I tell him we can’t go in and he looks at me like I’m barking crazy.
Our dogs are the only thing keeping the great British High Street alive.