‘Unbelievable,’ the professor told me. It was hard to disagree. We had just laid flowers on the grave of the anti-communist Russian philosopher Ivan Alexandrovich Il’in. Just a short time ago, mere possession of one of Il’in’s books would have brought six years in prison. Now the Russian state has reburied the philosopher in Moscow with all the pomp and ceremony it could muster.
Earlier this month the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Alexei II, presided over a service of reburial at the Donskoi monastery in Moscow for not only Il’in but also his far more famous contemporary General Anton Denikin, head of the anti-Bolshevik White forces in southern Russia during the Russian civil war.
Britain, the Prime Minister will be pleased to learn, once had a nuclear weapon named the Tony. (It was a prototype warhead to be fitted to the Bloodhound surface-to-air missile, tried in the 1950s but never developed.) The record books of our great nation’s early nuclear experiments also yield something called the Peter (appropriately enough, a trigger device for a larger explosion) but, alas, no Alastair, no Gordon (though there was, perhaps in anticipation of the late Robin Cook, another prototype unhappily christened the Pixie).