I NEEDED some extra cash the other day, so I decided to sell my soul to the Devil.

Summoning the Evil One, Master of the Princes of Hell, was surprisingly easy; I found a ritual online involving nine pounds of Stilton, a roadkill squirrel and a backwards recording of Barry Manilow’s Greatest Hits.

Once he appeared, Satan seemed a nice enough sort - not exactly wholesome but certainly less abhorrent than, say, those people in the advert for home equity release who sing a jingle based on vintage Bernard Cribbins novelty record Right Said Fred.

Admittedly he smelled a bit goaty, but no worse than that person you always seem to be assigned a seat next to on a long-haul flight.

Anyway, I learned that the Devil doesn’t purchase souls without question anymore, as there’s a bit of a glut in the market. Something to do with the popularity of social media influencers, apparently.

These days, Satan prefers to try before he buys, and conducts job interviews involving interesting scenarios.

“I’ve got a bit of a problem in another country,” he told me.

“I want to make sure the place is so thoroughly polluted that all human, animal and plant life is stunted and ruined.

“I want the air to be turned into a poisonous miasma; I want every river to become a channel of oozing filth, a glowing stew of radioactive pestilence; I want every non-renewable resource stripped from the land and I want every sentient being to know their children and grandchildren will spend their horrifically-foreshortened lives struggling to scratch an existence in a scoured desert incapable of supporting any crop more advanced than lichen.

“My problem is that there’s a very strong environmentalist movement holding my servants, the polluters, at bay and encouraging the general public to do all they can to safeguard the air, the water and the land for future generations.

“Any suggestions?”

I thought for a while and said to the Devil: “Well, you know what your problem is, don’t you?

“It’s people listening to the environmentalists. You don’t want them listening to the environmentalists.

“If I were you, I’d have my evil minions tackle that problem immediately.

“Your best bet is to have them start inserting lots of carefully-chosen new folk into the upper echelons of a really prominent environmentalist group.

“You might want to choose people from the same social and economic background as the bosses of the companies doing most of the polluting. Even if they care about the environment, make sure they’ve never known so much as a day’s hardship their life, and that they don’t even think of ordinary working people as human beings.

“Once you’ve done that, don’t bother having them target the actual polluters or any other powerful people.

“No, you want to hit the ordinary people - make them angry.

“Have your environmentalists target public transport, for example. Have them prevent ordinary people getting to work. Have them put ordinary people at risk of losing their jobs and their homes.

“Have them prevent ordinary people from getting home in time to see their children after a 12-hour shift.

“You don’t want the public thinking of environmentalists in general as people to be listened to and respected.

“You want the public to think of them as privileged, posturing, prancing sociopathic narcissists to be shouted down and perhaps even physically attacked.”

The Devil said: “That seems a pretty outlandish strategy.”

I replied: “Really? So you mean that’s not what you’re doing in Britain already?”