Monday, 13th February, 2023

[Day 1064]

Today dawned as quite a bright,but cold, day and it is pleasant for us to enjoy this spell of high pressure whilst it persists- which may not be for very much longer. Meg and I went off to collect our newspaper and we took back with us a copy of ‘The Guardian‘ which was given to us in error the other day but the newsagent is going to restore it to its rightful owner. As we often do on a Monday, we popped into Waitrose to buy one or two things and the staff delighted us by giving us a small bunch of daffodils which look as they might bloom within a few days. They were evidently getting prepared for a big rush later on today ready for St. Valentine’s Day which is tomorrow. I did read somewhere on the web that if we look back to the pagan origins of St Valentine’s Day, then it was characterised by naked men, running throgh the streets with a leather whip and swishing at the posterior of any maidens that they espied as a way of guaranteeing their future fertility. I somehow think that I had better not emulate this example for fear of being arrested and I do not think that following an ancient tradition will be much of a defence in court.

The situation in Turkey/Syria is becoming more dire by the day. Live people are still being pulled from the ruins over a week since the earthquake struck at 4.17 in the morning. However, the task of searching is becoming inceasingly unpleasant as the stench of decomposing, but unreachable, bodies fills the air. In the streets where the houses have not completely collapsed, the remainder are in such an unstable condition that nobody dares to go back inside them. Meanwhile for the rescue and medical authorities, the most difficult of balances has to be struck. Does one carry on searching for hours to rescue any more survivors or does it make more sense to preserve more lives by devoting resources to those who are rescued and injured but may not survive without some extra care and attention. At some point, and this point may only be a day or so further off, then might one preserve more lives by caring for the survivors than by an inceasingly futile search for those trapped in the ruins of the collapsed buildings? The total death toll is now put at nearly 36,000 and fears are rising that infections of all kinds may ravish a very weakened population. It is also being reported that the Turkish authorities have ordered the arrest of 131 builders or developers who may have been responsible for the erection of buildings that have evidently not survived the earthquake. Although it is well known that Turkey lies abreast a massive earthquake fault and therefore that quite severe earthquakes are not unknown, nonetheless building materials, design, construction and maintenance have been routinely ignored over the years. But before we start to point the finger, we still have the scandal of Grenfell Towers hanging over us after which no building firm has yet been sanctioned yeas after the event. One has to ask the question, which is not easily answered, which is why the construction industry should so ofen prove to be found wanting in the case of national disasters? One reason may lie in the fact that one relies upon first a strong moral and professional ethic on the one hand coupled with a strong and effective state which is properly resourced to police the design and the construction of building projects. But we live in an age where regulation is decried by the right wing media as the ‘nanny state’ which is said to be a brake on the operation of ‘free enterprise’. A related example is to be found on the front page of todays ‘Times‘ where it is reported that the water industry that has been routinely polluting our rivers and waterways should be subject to absolutely massive fines. But the story today is that these fines are being lessened by the present Government on the grounds that they are disproportionate. Once we go down this road, then a fine for non-compliance with legislation is merely seen as an additional and occasional business cost which will be passed on in any case to the customers.

Very strange things seem to be happening over the skies of North America. Shooting down a Chinese do-called weather balloon (which was quite likely to be a spying venture that went wrong) is the comparatively easy part. But now, the American military have attacked and destoyed three other ‘objects’ flying over North American and Canadian skys. In all probability, it is likely that these ‘objects’ which are the size of a small car may well be spying-related entities but, as of now, and until some pieces have been recovered, we could classify these entities literally as ‘Unidentified Flying Objects’. It seems likely that in a day or so, sufficient fragments of these objects will have been found for more definitive information to emerge. There is a very heightened state of tension between the USA and China at the moment and the existence of these flying objects can only add to the growing sense of unease.