David Cruickshanks (2022) Stayin Alive. How PTSD (Nearly) Stole My Life.

Summy passed me working in Kerr’s garden in Shakespeare Avenue. It runs parallel with our horseshoe shaped street—and he stays in McGrath’s old council house, a few houses down—from home. He was taking his two sons down the road. I imagined it was to school or nursery. One of the boys fell behind, and he was acting up. Summy was firm, but loving with him.

Summy’s mum was an alkie. His step-dad was away working for the Shah of Iran. He spent a lot of his childhood looking after his wee sister, whom we labelled Janey Mongo. A version of Summy pops up in lots of my stories. Summy joined the navy. He signed on for twenty years when he left school. I remember him coming home in dress uniform and into Macintoshes Bar. We were going to the Oasis later. We told him he couldn’t go with that thing on him, but he went with us, anyway. None of us scored, but that was normal. I don’t know what ship he was on, or if he was a Falklands’ war veteran. That was normal too.

David Cruickshank’s life in Glenrothes in Fife was a version of ours. Some of my favourite books are coming of age and autobiographical: Cider with Rosie. Growing up in the Gorbals. This Boy’s Life. In the Mind’s Eye.  All Quiet of the Western Front.  War and Peace, arguably, bridges both genres. He claimed to have read it aboard HMS Fearless, on the 8000 miles journey to the Falklands. The loss of over 200 British lives came after the sinking of the ageing Argentinian ship, ARA General Belgrano. Anyone that reads War and Peace should have a medal pinned on his or her shoulders.

That’s not a very good joke. I read David Cruickshank’s book in almost one sitting. Putting one word in front of another can be harder than it looks. We become word blind.

‘I awake feeling like someone is prising my eyes out of their sockets with a rusty hammer drill, which is not as bad as I thought I would feel.’

‘I awake,’ should be I wake up, or I waken. A minor quibble. My da’s bigger than your da. But I don’t like the editing. The author, as a comedian, tries for a jokey tone. But too often no cliché is left unused. Descriptive phrases become puffed out. Adolescent lust, for example, becomes dreams about ‘motorcycle girl’. We all have them. I could tell you the names of all the girls I fancied from the age of around five. They all had Barbie hair and faces. Readers don’t need to hear about them. Strip to the boner is not always better.

‘Wee George is emerging from a sleeping bag like a maggot from a cow’s swollen belly.’

Similes that strain should be abandoned, especially if they are visual images that mix metaphors. A map of how did we get to this, with a gasp at the end.

My mum asked me to shave my da, before he died. She knew I didn’t want to do it, but I wouldn’t refuse her.  

     Lucy Easthorpe, When the Dust Settles, uses the Welsh notion of Hiraeth. A longing for home. A place that no longer exists. An innocence lost, but we can still hear the echo.

I wonder if my da had post-traumatic-stress disorder.  David Cruickshank’s book is timely. We have war in Europe, again. The Belarusian writer, and dissident, Svetlana Alexievich The Unwomanly Face of War tells of a young girls surviving the collectivisation of Ukrainian farms by eating horse shit. Around six million died. It wasn’t so bad, because it was frozen and she could break parts off. Girl soldiers, during The Great Patriotic War, who carried no weapons because they weren’t enough, and men carried them. Their job was to lag behind Russian tanks, and when they were hit, try to save the men inside, by pulling them out of the burning shell.

It’s difficult to imagine. But not for David Cruickshank. When his ship was bombed and strafed, he was entombed in a stinky room, not much bigger than a tank. If the ship had sunk, he would have died. Stress doesn’t always leave a mark on the body. But our bodies don’t forget. We have lost that innocent non-awareness. Hiraeth. David Cruickshank writes from a place of knowledge. In joining the dots, he’s too many dots. But hey, it’s a cliché, but none of us are perfect. And if I see Summy again, I’ll need to ask him about his war. Ironically, Summy was always writing a book. We thought he was a fucking idiot. Don’t get above yersel. Stayin Alive and making do are staple relatives of Scottish working-class life.      

Ryszard Kapuscinski (1993) Imperium.

Ryszard Kapuscinski was born in 1932 and grew up in the Polesie region on Poland (today Belorussia). Pinsk was liberated by Soviet troops in 1939. From what wasn’t clear. He learned the Cyrillic Russian alphabet as school from a single copy of Stalin’s Studies in Leninism, watched arbitrary mass deportations to Siberia and starved with his family. He remained liberated for most of his adult life and witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.  The unravelling of the Imperium: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn 1992.

The system that governs us is a combination of the old nomenclatura, the sharks of finance, false democrats, and the KGB. I cannot call this democracy—it is a repugnant historically unprecedented hybrid, and we do not know in which direction it will develop…[but] if the alliance will prevail they will be exploiting us not for seventy, but for one hundred and seventy years.   

We do know the direction Russia took under Vladimir Putin. Kapuscinski marks out the direction of travel. He speaks of the old native Russia. His reading and understand of Bierdayev’s book as a student at university who tried to outline what the Imperium was and the paradox of what does a Russian think when he is somewhere such as the shore of the Yenisry.

He can walk along for days and months and always Russia will surround him. The plains have no end, nor the forests, nor the rivers. To rule over such boundless expanses, says Bierdayev, one had to create a boundless state.

Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace showed the hubris of Napoleon and the triumph of Mother Russia. The Great Patriotic War as the Second World War was called was when the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic defeated the Nazis (that had an alliance with until 1942). There were two superpowers in the world when the war ended and America was the enemy. They fought proxy-wars, Korea at the beginning of the 1950s. Communist China, a pauper state, under Chairman Mao provided unlimited manpower and around one million troops. Soviet MIG fighters protected ground troops. General McArthur, holed up as proxy-Emperor of Japan wanted to fight on, go all the way to China, all the way to Russia. War weary, General, later President Eisenhower, divided Korea. Both superpowers had nuclear weapons. China acquired them from Russia.

The Cold War and Mutually Assured Destruction. John F. Kennedy at the end of 1962 called the Russian’s bluff over Cuban missiles. I was too young to remember. Now we’re too old to care. Then Putin, 24th February 2022 threatens nuclear war for interference over his invasion plans of Ukraine.

Ukraine has been at war with Russia for eight years. It used to be the breadbasket of Russia and exported grain to Germany, now it exports its crops to China. Its soil was so fertile it was said that if you left a stick in the ground a tree would bloom. Yet, during Stalin’s purges millions starved. Putin’s military has annexed Crimea. The second day of their full-scale invasion and troops surround the capital Kyiv. But with amphibious landings on Mariupol and Donbas.   

Kapuscinski reminds us of falling into the abyss. The massacre of around 1.5 million Armenians in Turkey in 1915, the greatest mass genocide until Hitler. Regarded as traitors and infiltrators. In Putin’s terms neo-Nazis and drug addicts.    

‘Nationalism is the forbidden fruit.’

The Chechen Wars were good wars for Putin. The use of overwhelming military force, mass murder and torture quelled the North Caucasus. Puppet government.

‘A state that does not have a state seeks salvation in symbols. The protection of the symbol is important to it as protection of borders to other states. The cult of the symbol becomes a form of the cult of the country. Protection of the symbol becomes an act of patriotism.’

Look at the map, Kapuscinski says of Aremenia, but he could also be speaking of Ukraine.  The Russian bear wants to swallow it up. But he offers another lesson.

Look at the history books, ‘A magnificent ascent, and then, a dispiriting fall’.

The West (by which we mean President Joe Biden) offers overwhelming sanctions against Russia, but not if it pushes up the price of petrol for the average American. I wonder when the backbiting will start about the four million refugees not coming into Europe, because they’re already here. Are we sliding down the same road, taking sides, picking allies? Imperium is an insider account of a refugee that’s not a refugee in the old Soviet Socialist Republics Putin thinks still exist. Keeping your mouth shut doesn’t guarantee you’ll be OK. Not taking sides is taken sides. I’m not taking sides. I hope Ukraine wins, whatever that means. But I doubt its people will. Putin will win—for now.  I don’t know what that means either.   

The Countess and the Russian Billionaire, BBC 2, BBC iPlayer, editors Gregg Morgan, Chris Dale.

The Countess and the Russian Billionaire, BBC 2, BBC iPlayer, editors Gregg Morgan, Chris Dale.


A poignant voice towards the end of this docu-drama told viewers Sergei Pugachev was likely to be down to his last £70 million (or it might have been dollars $70 million). That was to put things into perspective. I’m not sure if we were meant to feel sorry for him. My Russian stretches to nada.   Pugachev had once been worth around $15 billion. He was a Russian oligarch and friend of Vladimir Putin. His portfolio included one of Russia’s largest private banks, shipyards, a coal mine and designer brands. He’d been married but divorced when he employed Countess Alexandra Tolstoy to teach him English.

Tolstoy was still married to Chama Uzikstn, whom she’d met while yomping across Russia on horseback. They were stars of a Russian television series ‘It’ll Never Last’, which proved prophetic. Here we had the English ideal of female beauty celebrated with pale, flawless complexion and rosy cheeks and some dark skinned horseman.

President Putin, Pugachev tells us, wasn’t keen on the Russian oligarch marrying an English rose. Putin told him much the same as he (allegedly) told President Trump that Russia had the most beautiful woman and prostitutes, who could piss on anybody’s bed (perhaps not in that order) even his.  

Pugachev tells us he defied Putin and married Countess Alexandra Tolstoy and they had three children together with houses all over the world. It’s a happy-ever-after scenario. The education of the children taking place in their home in Kensington, London. Here we have the English-language version of ‘It’ll Never Last’.  

Let’s not fall for he married the wrong woman argument. Bill Browder in his book, Red Notice, tell us how he became ‘Putin’s No.1 Enemy’. Pugachev puts himself around Putin’s No. 3 Enemy. He admits he fears with his life. With almost 40 Russian oligarchs dying and the use of  Novichok nerve agent on British soil, and the then British Prime Minster, Teresa May, condemned Russian involvement and naming two Russian agents who had perpetrated the crime, he had good reason.

Post-Soviet Russia after the fall of the Berlin wall was cowboy country in which the Chicago School model attempted to  transform Communism into Capitalism in one big gulp. Browder estimates that around twenty men ‘stole’ around 39% of the economy.  Pugachev was one of these twenty men which took him into the top 1000 richest men in the world (of around 8 billion). 

Putin, the little grey man, was pushed forward by oligarchs and regional gangsters and in January 2000, became President of the Russian Federation.  Pugachev was still part of the inner circle, still friendly with Putin as others grabbed the money and fled abroad. England, and London, offered citizenship at a fixed price of around £2 million, access to the money-laundering capital of the world and access to Conservative politicians. Pugachev remained in Moscow.

Pugachev’s narrative that he married an English rose and defied his old friend Putin, doesn’t hold. His claim that Putin’s agents took over his bank and demanded $240 million, accused him of $100 million tax fraud and threatened to kill him, his wife and children unless he paid up immediately does. Browder reports the same tactics and his Russian manager was imprisoned and beaten to death in a jail cell. The Russian state used English law to call for his deportation back to Russia (similar to the tactic they had used with Browder). Here  Pugachev made a tactical error, his passport was impounded but he fled London to his chateau in France. In absentia, he was jailed for two years for breaking English law.

Here we’re on the English version of it’ll never last. Countess Tolstoy’s parents were related to THE Leo Tolstoy of War and Peace, (perhaps also to the émigré writer and nobleman Alexi Tolstoy favoured by Stalin) and fully supportive of their daughter marrying a Russian billionaire. When things went badly, they remained supportive. Here’s the narrative of the plucky daughter, who although Pugachev was trying to bully her in the same way Putin was trying to bully him into returning home, she would not bend. The lady’s not for turning narrative.

Pugachev had tried to take her passport and imprison her and the children in his chateau in France. Countess Tolstoy said he’d a gun. He was no longer a billionaire, just another millionaire that tried to control his wife and kids and hit her when things went badly. Billionaire wife beater. That sounds about right, although not factually correct.

Countess Tolstoy was paid to appear on Russian telly, the equivalent of Fox News in America, Putin’s channel and confronted with Pugachev’s claim, she wasn’t even a proper Countess.

Fake news turns up everywhere. The wife beating Pugachev remains abroad. Tolstoy returned to Russia in an attempt to make a living. I guess with Covid-19 she’ll be home now. Home being, Kensington, London. Down and out in London and Moscow. George Orwell, eat your heart out.

Elton John (2019) Me

Not many folk get to call their book, Me, and expect you to know who they’re talking about. The Glasgow imperative applies here: Who the fuck dae yeh think yeh are? If the answer is Elton John, you go, oh, aye, that’s alright then. Elton John seems to be everywhere at the moment, BBC 1, BBC 2, BBC 4, Radio Four, Channel 4, but I can’t find him on ITV, which is a bit disappointing. He’s an institution.

I thought I’d have a quick shifty at Reg Dwight’s memoir. We already know his story from gossip columns. His love of Princess Diane (Candle in the Wind) and her children, the little royalings. Throw in the queen mother for lunch and yes, I would have thrown her, but you can see how he’s part of the establishment. Remember Elton’s first wife left at the registry office? Gargantuan drinking and drug sessions with the likes of Rod Stewart. I often wondered how the shagger of tall blonde woman and the gay guy that doesn’t shag tall blonde woman got together. The answer is here. Both of them got their start in the music industry as backing for Long John Baldry as he attempted to conquer the world with Bluesology. Baldry is a footnote in the rise and rise of Elton and Rod, both of whom love football. Elton knocked the name off from a band member and loves Watford -forever- and Rod loves Celtic far longer than he caroused with the latest blonde.

Then there’s the Elton away from all that showbiz glitter, hats and hairweaves. He didn’t screw his lyric writer the way many stars would and claim all the credit and profits. Bernie Taupin is worth around $150 million, but Elton did take £15 for the first gig, since he was playing piano, Bernie got a tenner. Elton, I’d guess, is worth considerably more now. The adopter of Take That renegades and other would-be rock stars that fell off the wagon.  The Elton addicted to AA meetings and Drugs Anonymous, give him a sniff of anything like that and Elton will turn up. Throw in his charity work. Raising tens of millions for AID’s charities. Bringing the homosexual into the Establishment and mainstream in a way that Peter Tatchell never could.  

Then there’s his late fatherhood, two boys (I think) with David (I can’t remember what’s-his-name, [Furnish?] which shows who I think is the one that matters).

So, to recap, I don’t really need to read this book to write about it. I did read the mandatory first 50 pages. I should really turn it into a rant about how Me is muscling out me and other authors scratching a living.  How out of the 1.6 billion books bought in the UK in 2018, I sold one Kindle copy that remains unread. Dead. If you turned that into percentages the book would run several volumes longer than War and Peace and be more interesting. Read chapter 1 here free: 0.000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000…% .

Or I’d be snide and say things like Reg Dwight didn’t really write the book, his kinship to books is like the moron’s moron in the Whitehouse, the book was really written by Alexis Petridis a music critic and if Petridis was really a music critic he should find someone else to work with. I’d probably throw in something that has nothing to do with Elton, David Walliams entering the writer’s club that holds those that made more than £100 million in sales. For some reason I can’t stand Walliams, there’s no logic to it, just gut instinct.  

Reg Dwight, the child prodigy that grew up to be Elton John, I don’t know why, but I kinda like him. Maybe it’s because I don’t listen to music and I’m jumping on the bandwagon. Read on.

Jaroslav Hašek (1973 [?])The Good Soldier Švejk, translation from the Czech by Cecil Parrot and the original illustrations by Joseph Lada.

good soldier.jpg

The Good Soldier Svejk like author Jaroslav Hasek, as their names indicates was  a Slav and Czech serving in the 91st Infantry Regiment of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, when they still had an empire, at the beginning of the First World War.  It’s not All Quiet on the Western Front, because for one thing it’s the Eastern Front and the Russians are the immediate enemies.  Svejk’s not sure how to get there, who they are fighting or the reasons why. He’s an eternal optimist and hopeless buffoon, which makes him the mirror of a The Good Soldier depending on whom looks into his simple face. He always carries out orders and does what he’s told, but when no official or officer is sure what they’re doing either Svejk often ends up metaphorically and literally walking in circles as he does in his putative journey to meet up with the 91st Regiment at Budejovice.

‘Forward the brave!’ said the good soldier Svejk to himself. ‘Duty calls. I must get to Budejovice.

But by an unfortunate chance instead of going from Protovin south to Budejovice Svejk directed his steps to the north towards Pisek…

‘Jesus Christ,’ sighed Svejk. ‘Here I am back in Putin where I slept in a haystack’.

That’s where I stopped reading. Just after book 1. The Good Soldier Swejk began as a series of newspaper articles illustrated by Josef Lada. And the characterisation can be cartoonish, but ironically the situations more real. There’s no doubting that a good officer had the perfect moral duty to beat his batman to death to enforce discipline and doing so twice was to be commended. And military doctors had a perfect moral duty to root out malingerers that feigned blindness and deafness and having only one leg by starving and beating and forced purgings which killed many and cured other.

Look at the central character Count Pyotr “Pierre” Kirillovich Bezukhov is in Leo Tolstoy’s  Napoleonic novel War and Peace and you will find many of the same traits. Indeed, at the end of this epic ‘Pierre’ boasts that he is no longer the same man, he no longer beats his servants, even though it’s long overdue and deserved. It’s a class thing.

The Good Soldier Svejk is an everyman soldier that gets on with everybody and nothing surprises him and for every story being told he adds ten taller tales of his own. In the end I found the poor, simple, buffoon wearisome as the bureaucracies and officials he faces, but that may say more about me than Jaroslav Hasek’s character and how stupid the First World War was for every side on the Western and Eastern fronts.

Joyce Carol Oates (2017) A Book of American Martyrs.

a book of american martyrs.jpg

Books don’t usually have corners. But (I guess) this one does. That’s one of the things that (kinda) annoyed me, Joyce Carol Oates has a tended to add extra bits of information in brackets. Her writing style didn’t (really) annoy me. What annoyed me was I felt the book was too long.

War and Peace and the rebirth of the Russian nation as a leading European power in 1815 took less of a word count than it took for Soldier of God, Luther Amos Dunphy to shoot and kill Augustus Voorhees  and his escort, a retired Vietnam veteran and the blow back that ensues.

Edna Mae, Luther’s wife, finally works it out for herself. ‘Her Luther had killed two men in cold blood as a way of ending her marriage and changing his life utterly.’

A reader can, of course, leave a book at any time. We are not required to push (relentlessly) forward in the way that Luther’s daughter, Dawn, D.D. Dunphy, The Hammer of Christ, moves in the boxing ring. Here’s where I come to the (provisional) idea of corners.

I didn’t find Dawn or Edna Mae or indeed much of Dunphy family, who have their mirror image in the rich and educated life (and times) of the Voorhees’s family, convincing. I also scoffed at Jenna Voorhees, Gus’s wife, and mother of little Naomi, aged around twelve, after the killing telling her she could no longer be her mum and driving away. Dickensian Dawn Dunphy, however, fills out as a character when she begins boxing. Joyce Carol Oates is an expert on boxing.

I was  also intrigued with botched State killings on Death Row and the rise of hate-mongering American right. The election of the moron’s moron in  Trump country makes a dumb  (kinda) sense when you read these these pages. (The patience of Job needed).

Similarly, I turned a page and came to another corner, in which Dunphy believes himself to be touched by God and applies to become a minister. It’s a simple year-long course in ordained hate. Hate outsiders. Hate women. Hate science and love the lord. And of course, hate baby killers that perform abortions like Dr Voorhees. But Dunphy is not academically gifted enough to pay his fee and pass his exam and become one of God’s chosen.  The belief that god stands over and marries the two haploid  cells inside the womb in that first division of those that believe it is just a collection of cells and those that believe it to be a baby. Language is instructive. Cancerous cells need to be excised cut out, but baby cells need to be breed because ‘No baby chooses to die.’ (No cancer cell chooses to die either.)

Dr Voorhoo’s half-brother (who should have been aborted on the page) points out fairy- tale endings are something added on, like the resurrection of Christ, but both Dr Voorheese and Dunphy were fanatics and willing to put their life on the line. Different sides of the same coin.  American Martyrs.  (Ho-hum, coming to a clinic near you soon. Already appearing on London streets.)

Gay Talese (1992) Unto the Sons.

gay talese.jpg

I’m not sure how to write reviews. Usually, I start by saying something about the writer, such as I knew nothing about Gay Talese until I read an interview with him in The Observer Review, which focused on his latest book, the name of which I can’t remember, but the story centered around a man who ran a hotel and peeked through the ceiling at the room below and the couples that had sex in them. That piqued my interest. Next up, an online interview with Gay Talese in The Paris Review. I liked what he had to say. So I went to my local library (yes, libraries still exist) and got a book out. Quiet a hefty book, 629 pages and the author’s notes. It could have been any of Talese’s books, over almost a fifty-year period he’s written, according to my flawed reckoning, seven.

Unto the Sons is an epic that spans the Napoleonic wars, the taking and making of Italy by Garibaldi and the First and Second World Wars. To call it autobiographical would be an understatement and a bit like calling War and Peace a story about Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow. Napoleon does feature here, a background figure. Flickering in the foreground was one of his generals Murat, who was married to his sister (or sister-in-law) but was known as the King of Naples, a dismissive term in both books, but here he appears to lead a rebellion and take back what he imagined to be his kingdom from the Bourbon king, Victor Emmanuel III. Murat has a walk on role, because Naples is near Maida, in the South of Italy. That’s important because everything springs from that soil including the people and their customs and their antagonism to the people in the North of Italy who take everything good and give nothing back.

Gay’s father Joseph is a tailor, made good in the new land, with his own business in Ocean City, New Jersey, a naturalized citizen, jingoistic in support of the war effort, but fearful for his relatives fighting for the Italians and the Axis powers, relatives of his brothers and sisters and sons and daughters of the soil of Maida. He prays daily to St Francis of Paola, a son of the southern Italian soil and a miracle worker. Like many young boys Gay finds this distasteful and embarrassing.

Usually, when reviewing a book you stick in something that spoke to you. Something that resonates. Perhaps even to show the agnostics that you have read the book. On a day when Donald J Trump becomes the forty-fifth President of the United States I was struck by a passage featuring one of the protagonists that the book follows (based I guess on the diaries he left), Joseph’s elder cousin by four years, Antonio who had fought for Italy and France in the First World War, and whom a younger Joseph lived and worked for briefly in Paris, before moving further from his homeland to America. Here Antonio, an avowed Fascist living and working in a Paris not yet occupied by the Germans, takes stock of the Duce, Mussolini,  whom he privately thinks has done some good things and can’t really do any great harm (and we know what happened next) and his thoughts mirror my own about Trump’s possible trajectory.

Antonio saw Mussolini as a man with more bark than bite, an egotist with perhaps a neurotic need to gain other people’s attention, yet he thought the Duce could be reasoned with, must be reasoned with, before he embraced Hitler as his strongest ally. Mussolini was a dictator, but Antonio believed, only a dictator could have restored order in Italy during the strike-ridden 1920s.

Blackshirts and black armbands. I’ll wear the latter, a day of mourning for the election of Donald J Trump and the belief that he can make America great again. I’m in mourning for the world I knew.


idiocy on a grand scale

We all know how this works. BP is on the slide. Share price dropping like a cascade of dominos.  It’s not a good time to be in fossil fuels. China no longer buying; America fracking and the Middle Eastern countries pumping out more oil than you can shake a Sheik at. Even Saudi Arabia is feeling the pinch and trying to sell shares in its monopoly. The best thing a company that BP can do is sack worker [tick] and lower existing workers’ pay [tick] and water down any obligations that the company may have towards workers’ welfare such as pensions and sick pay [tick]. And if that doesn’t work first time, keep doing it until you can see the whites of the workers’ eyes. Plead poverty. Ask for a government bailout on that infrastructure you’ve already paid for and get a tax rebate to keep you competitive. Threaten even more job losses [tick].  Then appoint a new chief executive Bob Dudley.

What makes Bob that is a Dudley unusual is  the established formula of agreeing to everything the new chief executive demands, such as a £14 million starting salary was voted down. Wow. That’s Bolshevism for you. Some of the other executives in the top FTSE 100 companies average a  salary of around £5 million a year. According to the High Pay Centre, they’ve got to make do with Exec poverty at around 183 times the earnings of the equally average UK worker. Average earnings in the UK being around £26 500 in 2015, but of course most folk I know don’t make average earnings, they make far less than that. But let’s just simply, picture your own average executive and pin his image to an internal dartboard [and it will be a he]. He makes 200 times the average worker. And Bob, this is a Dudley, makes almost three times as much as them.

What can super Bob do? Can he like Superman turn the earth back on its axis, regularly save the world, turn back time and save Lois Lane from a crumbling dam that has killed her and bring her back to life with a kiss? Temporarily blip. Like the stock market, she will recover.

I’m sure those angry shareholders were asking the question most workers face. Would Bob work for a measly £13 999 999? And if he would why not a measly £13 999 998?  £13 999 997?  You can see where it’s going. A downward pressure on Bob’s pay packet.

Perhaps shareholder could get Bob, who is a Dudley, to sign a workers’ agreement, or more a lame-duck promise, not to commit suicide, as all new global workers, such as those making smartphones and tablets for Apple’s subsidiary company Foxconn in China were forced to do, in 2010.

Ignore signs such as those held up to information technology workers on Google buses there’s 10 million Dudley’s more like you in India. One of the picketer’s placards being held by Thomas Piketty.

All wages are relative and Bob who is a Dudley is I’m sure worth more than the average worker.  But how much more? Let’s throw up some ideas. Offhand, how about 100 000 times more? The ratio of how many serfs the nobility owned in War and Peace. By the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall, around 1989, the modern aristocracy of the Communist politburo has two houses and earned around six times as much as the average worker. Let’s just say it’s a changed world from the people that owned the land that also owned the people on the land, to modern commerce, but the principle is the same. Putin knows it. I’m the one holding the big stick. Like it or lump it. I’m sure Bob that’s not a Dudley knows it too.