Wednesday, 8th February, 2023

[Day 1059]

Today we chatted for a while with our domestic help whose day it is each Wednesday. We were swapping stories about the emerging news from the earthquake zone in Turkey and Syria and how devastating it is for those lucky enough to have escaped the falling buildings only to helplessly stand by whilst they can still hear family members trapped inside the ruined buildings, calling for help of which there is never enough. Then, after breakfast and more or less on the spur of the moment, we decided to visit Marks and Spencer in Longbridge (the site of the old Austin-Rover factory which is now a large retail park) We had not visited Marks and Spencer for several months now and as usual the departments that we visited were generally very quiet whereas the cafeteria was heaving. Meg and I treated ourelves to a coffee and a sandwich as soon as we arrived as by now, it was quite late on in the morning. Then we paid a visit to the women’s lingerie deprtment where after a degree of searching, we managed to locate and to buy the underwear for which we were seaching. Finally, we paid a visit to the Food Hall to pick up an item that our domestic help particularly wanted and finally we returned home. Once at home, we immediately started to prepare our lunch which was a curry/pasta type meal and our domestic help took a little lunch with us. I asked her if I could borrow a particular item of clothing which I need for my Pilates class next Tuesday – all of this will be explained in the fullness of time.

A private underwater search company has been using sonar equipment on the River Wyre in the search for the woman missing from a Lancashire village. The news this afternoon is that the underwater search expert looking for missing mother Nicolla Bulley has said his team is pulling out of the hunt as she is ‘categorically not’ in the area of the river where detectives believe she fell in. All of the experts involved in this search describe themseves as ‘baffled’ by the disappearance of the woman and one wonders what form the search will take from this point onwards. The police has been assiduously checking all of the videocam evidence that they can lay their hands upon and are wondering if she could have left the area without being caught on any video cameras at all. After the passage of some days, the trail, if any, gets colder and colder and at some point, I imagine that the police will have to scale down their operations and declare the whole incident as an unexplained missing person.

The Turkey-Syria deathtoll is now of the order of 12,000 and research fforts are bcoming increasingly frantic. A team from Britain got to work within minutes of their arrival upon Turkish soil but even with a vast army of volunteers, the scale of the problem is so vast that the chances of being rescued is diminishing by the minute. The more one learns about the complexities of this particular earthquake, the more horrendous it becomes. For a start, the earthquake footprint falls across both Southern Turkey and Northern Syria so two governmnts are involvd. But Northern Syria has been an area in conflict for some time now and the remit of the Syrian government does not run as far as the earthquake footprint – the Turkish army control some of the area, as do Kurds and some rebel militias. So trying to negotiate the politics of all of this sounds like a nightmare. In addition, many of the roads serving the area have themselves been destroyed in the earthquake. Whatever roads are open, there is an army of refugees trying to flee the area presumably trying to get to the safety of other family members who live outside the earthquake zone. So trying to get heavy earthmoving equipment along these damaged and refugee packed roads is problematic to say the least. And finally the weather is particularly bad at the moment with temperatures several degrees below zero and with heavy snow much in evidence. Those who survived the earthquake only wearing the clothes they were wearing when they ran out of their collapsing buildings are pullings bits of wood out from the rubble with which to light or sustain a fire so that they can keep themselves warm.

The Ukrainian President Zelenskyy has making a surprise visit to the UK today and is addressing members of both the Commons and the Lords in Westminster Hall. Naturally he has been asking for jets from this country and the response from the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunk is to say that ‘nothing is off the table’ which is a meaningless form of words that means nothing and commits you to even less. Supplying jets is not a simple question either as jets have to have support and maintenance and refuelling even before we get onto the vexed question of training Ukrainian pilots. Following the speech, Mr Sunak asked Defence Secretary Ben Wallace to investigate what jets the UK could give to Ukraine – I do not expect the reply will be a straighforwrd one and may be an interesting way of saying ‘yes’ and ‘no’ at the same time.