Good morning lovely people
What we thought was a nightmare over the last two years was just a few sleepless nights. The world has changed, again, in just a few days and it’s leaving a new kind of chill in the air.
During the no alcohol curfew stage of hospitality restrictions Victor’s old headmaster caught me. With all the love and support so many of you have given us over the years, he wisely said “At least we’re not at war.”. My naivety challenged him. Thinking that wars were of another world and that our own hell was worse than fighting any imaginary tyrant. It felt like some of our community were fighting an enemy none of us could see and some were oblivious to the battle. Our brothers and sisters in Ukraine are facing a very visible horror story, changing my perspective significantly.
In a blink, part of the world, our politicians’ rhetoric and our media have gone from talking about a pandemic to fighting a war of the old order, with real bullets and many casualties. It feels almost perfectly orchestrated. I’ve not heard the word Covid for a week. We struggle to change from breakfast to lunch service as quickly. Here, none of us are holding a gun, our families aren’t separated, our homes aren’t destroyed. How is a war of this scale possible in 2022? There are wars in Myanmar, Syria, Colombia, Libya. These lands are not close to our doorstep or on European soil. In a global economy perhaps vested interests’ lives have more value or maybe this war is a very different and very dangerous variant.
Putin’s “special military operation” on Ukraine has shocked the West. The EU has moved quickly on immigration. The UK has been too slow and too conditional. It shouldn’t be like picking fruit, when you just choose the ones that look perfect. To say we may be inundated with Russian spies surely is a joke. Their spies have been here for years and any new Russians willingly coming over, won’t be arriving by yacht, and are probably in more danger than we are. Over 1 million people have fled Ukraine already, this is estimated to increase to 7 million. That’s almost the entire population of Scotland and Wales.
Edinburgh is twinned with many cities including Florence, San Diego, Munich, Nice to name a few and beautiful Kyiv. Can you imagine open combat in any of these places? A convoy of armoured tanks along the M8 arriving on Princes Street, the headquarters for the worlds’ war correspondents housed in The Caves, the Castle battered and bombed or worse our team and friends holding weapons to defend our homes. The news today tells of lives lost not by a virus but by a human neighbour, brutishly believing his old world vision is greater than ours today.
How quickly Covid feels irrelevant. SAGE too may now be irrelevant. Any life lost is not irrelevant but the propaganda, regulations and manoeuvring surrounding are. Who wears a mask in a war zone when a bullet proof vest is the essential attire. Clearly different enemies require different protection but have we been duped all along?
Covid felt like one person’s rights were of less value than others based on how you earned your living, my feeling of unfairness is now outweighed by the unimaginable. This freezing humanitarian crisis in Ukraine is only evading the oligarchs and they may not like it getting so chilly.
Men in Ukraine aged 18 to 60 have been asked to stay and fight for their country. That’s Orlando and Victor. Carla and I (and no3 with Rocco) would be on a train, I know they’d be up in arms if she was prevented from staying behind.
Volodyemyr Zelenskyy a former actor, now famously the voice of Paddington Bear 2’s Ukrainian edition. His words, better than any Arnold Schwarzenegger catch phrase “I don’t need a ride, I need more ammunition.” Scary stuff.
Our tiny stance is the removal of all Russian vodkas from our lists, my favourite after a trip to Moscow and St Petersburg 7 years ago. Trips like this may be on hold for decades. We’ve gone with Absolut. The Swedish have been good at Covid we think they’re pretty good with vodka too. Scottish Arbikie, if this potato version is your tipple, will also be available. We’ve tried twice to boycott Coca-Cola for different reasons but there has been huge popular resistance. Maybe it’s time for this to go too? Fizzy drinks are a tiny bubble compared to the real problem of natural gas and oil supplies. How did anyone think that was a good cocktail?
Russia was one of our favourite holidays. Beautiful, if restrained, people. Fabulous Faberge to stunning Stroganoff. Bolshoi to Beluga; Carla and I indulged in the ballet and left the caviar for Victor (he didn’t have any but was very tempted). Catherine The Great’s collection in The Winter Palace or the treasures of the Kremlin Museum left no room to question what a super power was. Every nation has their own display of this level of control. Versailles to the Vatican. The Forbidden City to Karnak. An insatiable covetousness for some can never be satisfied until it’s broken. Peace should be a price even the richest should be able to stomach and afford. With international sanctions starting to take effect maybe peace will look like a bargain. The world is manoeuvring. China was the source of the problem for Covid, could it be the solution now? Today’s threads of these insatiable greeds are embroidered across the globe. London being quoted as the money laundering capital of them all even if they can no longer pay by MasterCard or Visa. Unlike the old world powers much has been hidden in broad daylight, but for how much longer? More interesting, where will the new hiding places be?
Are we heading back to the days of the Iron Curtain? With so many ties to Russian gas supplies to Western European nations, never mind a nuclear threat, we have got ourselves into a bigger pickle than Nureyev defecting. COP26 seems like another convoy that was a waste of time if we end up relying on fossil fuels to get us warmed up. We’re all hoping that the taste of the good life that the West has brought the Eastern big guns will maybe be too tempting to lose. Will it be them or China to convince the son of Leningrad otherwise? How long will it take? How much will it hurt? It’s going to take longer than breakfast to lunch for sure. I think someone should call Daniel Craig, bring him back from retirement and send him to Russia with love. The people of Ukraine and her neighbours have all our love and warmest wishes for now.
Keep well and keep safe
PS Victor says I’ve to stop drinking tea for a little while. No idea why!