A battle of the calendars is being waged in Russia, prompting Alf’s mates at the Eketahuna Club to muse on how a similar battle might shape up in this country.
In Russia, 12 scantily clad women oozing praise for Vladimir Putin are stacked up against six stern-looking female students demanding human rights.
Alf reckons it’s a no-contest, simply on a numbers basis – six versus 12.
Oh, and then there’s the advantage the pro-Putin mob has gained by stripping to their undies, which means they are much better clad for combat of this sort.
It’s all happening at Moscow State University, according to news reports sweeping the world, after the publishing on Thursday of an erotic calendar by students at the university’s journalism faculty in celebration of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s birthday.
The 2011 birthday calendar featured 12 female journalism students posing in just their underwear. The message: “Vladimir Vladimirovich, We love you. Happy Birthday Mr Putin,” was adorned, in English, on the cover and each picture was accompanied by a personal message to the prime minister.
Each young woman is dressed in lacy lingerie, and has a word bubble stretching from her mouth with phrases like “Can I be your co-pilot?” and “How about a third go?”, referring to one of the prime minister’s manly stunts and the possibility he may return for a third term as president.
The word bubble for the month of March reads: “You put out the fires, but I’m still burning.”
But damn it, Russia has its malcontents and shit-stirrers, too.
These are the equivalents of the spoilers who have kicked up a fuss about Paul Henry.
And so the calendar drew swift and severe criticism from a separate group of journalism students from Moscow State University.
The second group – led, no doubt, by Russian versions of Sue Kedgley and Sue Bradford – created their own calendar, in which they posed fully clothed with pieces of tape over their mouths to symbolize the restrictions on freedom of the press imposed by the Kremlin.
This group is an earnest lot – just like Kedgley and Co.
The girls’ personal messages mocked the vulgar messages of their fellow students by posing serious political questions about the policies of the current government.
The joyless lasses who produced the second calendar point to murders of journalists and curbs on media freedom under Putin.
“Who killed Anna Politkovskaya?” asks Yekaterina Ulianova, posing, like all the young women, in a sombre black outfit with yellow tape sealing her mouth shut.
Politkovskaya, a journalist who was one of the Kremlin’s toughest critics, was shot dead on Putin’s birthday four years ago today.
Mind you, Alf must say he quite likes the idea of muzzles on political malcontents.
He is also tempted to think the Russian mischief-makers look better on a calendar with gags over their gobs than Kedgley and Co would look on a calendar, even if they had no gags over their gobs and were stripped to their undies.
Oh, and he is told that 50,000 copies of the first calendar have already been sold and 50,000 more will go on sale soon. All proceeds will go towards helping a fellow student, who suffers from leukemia.
Putin – who turned 58 on October 7 – has given his approval to it.
He was informed about the two birthday gifts, and approved both, Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said, according to tabloid news site Life.ru.
“The premier was more impressed by the first [group of girls],” Peskov said.
Mrs Grumble is keen to have a calendar produced for John Key’s next birthday.
She is thinking of asking members of the local WDFF to co-operate in the enterprise by showing off a bit more on this occasion than their best scones or biggest pumpkins.