In the age of cheap flights, where international travel was available to the relatively poor as well as the absurdly rich, we became used to the idea of visiting exotic climes and experiencing strange new cultures. Such an experience, if eco-warriors get their way, will soon once more be reserved for the financial elite.
But showing true generosity of spirit, those same elites have built us a new wonderland, and it is right here at home. In fact, most days, it is in our living room. It is the world of the radio, and the TV, of Hollywood and the BBC. It is the only world whose opinions apparently matter, and it is a world where every opinion is the bizarre mirror opposite of those held by people on the other side of the glowing screen. It is also known as Clown World.
The opinions of Clown World have been designed purely for our amazement and amusement. Where the Victorian Circus concentrated on bizarre physical abnormalities – the bearded ladies, the hairy Dog Boys, the grotesque deformities and aborted foetuses floating in jars of formaldehyde – Clown World concentrated on nothing so prosaic as purely physical aberrations.
For Clown World astonishes and delights us with purely mental absurdities, with ideas so fatuous as to be instantly comical, or with views so inherently illogical that they seem to give a glimpse into an alternative dimension.
For instance, in Clown World, drinking milk is either a subtle sign of racist intent, a sly symbol of supremacy, or it is an act of reckless ecological malice sure to wipe all human life from the face of the planet. It is never just drinking milk.
In Clown World, bravery does not mean risking your life on behalf of another or for some noble cause. It means telling everyone about your sexual preferences, or cheating on your wife, or possessing a fetish for teenage boys.
In Clown World, compassion means helping rapists, murderers and violent criminals gain easier access to fresh victims, or helping them avoid punishment or deportation after they have ruined other lives.
In Clown World, wisdom is not granted by age or experience, but by their opposite. The people of Clown World worship youth, so much so that angry teenagers can chart the course of trillion pound policies simply by stamping their feet and pulling angry faces.
It is in fact a never ending circus, a circus without borders or limits. There are no trapeze artists, and the animals are all human. Clown World never sleeps or closes, and the rides cover the same ground, endlessly. The Everyone-Is-a-Nazi roller coaster is especially popular, and the clowns are highly paid.