This year's Olympic Games were supposed to be Communist China's coming-out-party, and the torch route is even more ambitious: 21 countries on all six inhabited continents. But that includes Australia, and I really wouldn't send the torch there if I wanted to preserve China's dignity.

As England is the spiritual homeland of irony, so is Australia the world capital of mockery, and by the time the torch gets there (if it ever does) the Australians are going to feel challenged. It was burning underpants in 1956; what might it be in 2008?