The Hound

The Hound

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Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a fish he caught fishing during a three-day fishing and hunting trip in the Siberian wilderness near the Mongolian border August 1-3, 2017 in the Tyva Republic, Russia.

Putin’s come-back: Western leaders would look disgusting topless

Playground insults appear to be the latest military development to come out of the war in Ukraine, as Vladimir Putin tells Western leaders they would look “disgusting,” shirtless. Do you need some ice for that burn, G7?

“I don’t know how they wanted to get undressed, above or below the waist. But I think it would be a disgusting sight in any case,” the Russian leader said during a visit to Turkmenistan.

He’s not wrong.

Putin’s feelings had clearly been hurt earlier in the week after Western leaders mocked the Russian president’s carefully cultivated macho persona, particularly all those photo-ops of him riding bare-chested, topless fishing and hunting bears. 

Not only did Boris Johnson describe Putin’s invasion of Ukraine as a “perfect example of toxic masculinity,” during the NATO summit in Madrid, he also proposed at the G7 summit that leaders “show [their] pecs,” to “show that we’re tougher than Putin.”(What the classically-educated British PM failed to mention was that Catherine the Great was one of Russia’s most ambitious and feminine of monarchs, invading both Crimea and Ukraine centuries ago.)

The ever ambitious Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, went one step further than Johnson. He suggested the G7 leaders match Putin’s favourite outdoorsy pastime, with a “bare-chested horseback riding display” of their own.

This would be a sight to behold – though admittedly a strange one. Perhaps they should refrain from showing Putin their “guns” and instead send more real ones to Ukraine.

To rub salt in the wound, Putin even went holier than thou, suggesting Western leaders “stop abusing alcohol and other bad habits, do physical exercise and take part in sports.”

To be fair to Putin, he is 69 years old and still knows his way around an ice hockey rink. He told Emmanuel Macron in February that he’d rather be playing hockey than meeting Joe Biden for peace talks. Who wouldn’t.

In any case, the G7’s leaders are now no doubt huddled around the climbing frame trying to think of a comeback: “Well Vlad, you’re not coming to my party,” perhaps?

Svetlitsa, Russia. January 19, 2018. Russian President Vladimir Putin climbs out of the ice-cold water of Lake Seliger to mark the Orthodox Epiphany at St. Nilus Stolobensky Monastery January 19, 2018 in Svetlitsa, Russia

Johnson and Wallace get personal on toxic small-man Vlad

Are the Defence Secretary and the Prime Minister coordinating on attack lines? Ben Wallace, speaking on LBC, told listeners that Putin is a “lunatic” who suffers from “small man syndrome” and holds a “macho” view of the world. In the noughties, Putin cultivated an image of “strongman” virility, having himself photographed riding horses without his shirt on, fishing in the Taiga topless and out hunting… again, topless.

Now, aged 69, just four years below the average male life expectancy in Russia, the years have left their mark. At the Victory Day parades in Moscow, he sat with a blanket on his lap to keep himself warm.

In an interview with German media following the G7 summit, Boris Johnson accused Vladimir Putin of “toxic masculinity” and claimed that a female president would not have behaved in the same way. That must come as news to students of Russian history who will remember that Catherine the Great, during her reign in the 18th century, expanded Russian territory by thousands upon thousands of square miles.

The Hound speculates that the comments show the enduring salience of the Gavin Williamson doctrine of British foreign policy making, developed during his time at the MoD. In March 2018, following the Salisbury nerve agent attack he said that “Russia should go away and should shut up.” A bit on the nose, cheeky and a little bit crass – but by God, didn’t he have a point about toxic strongman Putin?

London, UK. 16th Oct, 2020. Boris Johnson's Political Adviser, Dominic Cummings, leaves his house to go to Downing Street.

Dominic Cummings needs to get a job

As a bored and self-indulgent fifteen-year-old during lengthy school holidays, the Hound’s owner used to sit on her bedroom floor and create league tables of her favourite albums, books, films etc… to decide which one was truly the best. This activity usually killed enough time until she found something better to do. The following summer when she had turned 16, she had a waitressing job and no longer had the time to ponder at length which Sofia Coppola film she really liked the best.

One can only hope that Dominic Cummings’ circumstances will similarly change by this time next year once he’s turned 51 as today his subscribers were treated to not only his top 50 favourite films but also his thoughts on which of these films his subscribers one hundred years from now might be the most surprised to find on said list.

Cummings’ employment prospects, however, are slightly more complicated than a fifteen-year-old looking for a bar job. After he ejected himself from a crashing Number 10 in November 2020, Britain’s kingmaker’s contributions to political life seem to have been limited to fanning the flames of his former-employer’s steady succession of scandals via chaotically punctuated tweets and writing his aforementioned blog. And as every fifteen-year-old learns in IT lessons, what you post on the internet could harm your future job prospects.

To be fair, any publication requires a bit of variety and colour, and the list is a solid selection (although conflating Alien and Aliens, and the first two Godfather films into a single entry is cheating somewhat). But unlike most fifteen-year-old girls, Cummings’ experience, ambition, and knowledge would actually make a difference if turned elsewhere.

Perhaps he is biding his time, perhaps he is writing his post-Downing Street memoirs or perhaps he is toiling over a more worthwhile project which will be revealed in a few months’ time. But if he is truly in need of something to do, the service industry is seriously struggling for staff these days.