Today the weather looked set fair so after our customary chat with our domestic help whose day it is on Fridays, Meg and I set off for the park. For the past few days what with one thing or another, we have tended to utilise the car but today it was almost a spring-like day – although the sky was blue, the sun was shining and a gentle wind did not make us feel particularly cold. We occupied our normal bench for about twenty minutes and then chatted with an older couple who recognised us as being members of the same church congregation. Then we walked down to the lake and espied our University of Birmingham friend and Seasoned World Traveller having a coffee in the open air at one of the few tables provided by the owners of the park’s cafe. I bought a round of coffees and left Meg whilst I popped into town to collect our Friday newspaper. In the newsagent, I espied a bowl of Cadbury’s Creme Eggs on the front of the counter. This prompted me to remark that when Meg was pregnant many decades ago now, she had a particular craving for Cadbury’s Creme Eggs. When I mentioned this to the newsagent he remarked that if he spotted Meg coming into the shop to buy a supply of the same, he would then draw the appropriate conclusions. I then popped back into the park to sit at a table with Meg and our two park friends and, of course, we spent most of our time discussing whether Putin was ‘mad’ or just ‘bad’. This is quite an interesting debate as it happens because there is a blog which comes my way via my email account where there is quite a long and intelligent discussion whether Putin is displaying rational behaviour or whether what is seen in the Ukraine is an example of the deranged delusions of the Russian leader. I think that it is possible to draw these two threads together, though. It is possible that Putin, acting as a chess player, has a carefully calculated plan which is now being put into effect. On the other hand, even some multiple murderers (for example ‘The Yorkshire Ripper’, the Moors murderers) might exhibit a complete lack of any emotional empathy whilst carefully planning their crimes. So we might label this complete absence of any emotional feeling state as behaviour which is ‘mad’ but this is not to deny that they are rational within their own terms.
The Ukraine invasion is now being reported upon and analysed by all of the world’s media. Channel 4 news, for example, is showing some incredibly compelling footage from inside the Ukraine and some of their focus has been upon the refugee crisis that we are witnessing in the heart of Europe. I suppose there could just about be some 95 year olds in Poland and France who can recall what it was like when Warsaw and Paris fell in WWII. I hasten to add that I think it is common knowledge that the French did not really much to defend Paris putting a lot of their resources into the Maginot line which the Nazis just walked around. However, I know that military history is a lot more complicated than this but the ‘decapitation’ of the Ukraine now looks a distinct possibility. Although the fall of the Ukraine is now almost certain, I do not think this is by any means the end to the story. I think it is true that whilst an army of ‘x’ thousands might conquer a territory, one has to multiply that by several times (3-5 times) to install an army of occupation. In the Ukraine, the authorities have been handing out Kalashnikovs to a goodly proportion of the population as well as encouraging the population to prepare Molotov cocktails. Whilst many if not most of the women and children are sheltering or fleeing, there is conscription in place for all adult males aged 18-65. So we may see the prospect of hand-to-hand fighting through the streets of the Ukrainian capital. The Russians, of course, might just try to utilise missiles against what they can but already some blocks of flats in the capital have been destroyed by missiles. Were these random attacks or a mal-functioning missile? As the veteran Labour politician (and doughty fighter as a tank commander in WWII) Denis Healy pronounced: ‘In war, the first casualty is truth‘ No doubt, within the next day or so, we shall start to see some terrible events unfold before our eyes and the journalists can rely upon quite a lot of video-footage captured on mobile phones.
Tomorrow, we have some more ‘Six Nations’ rugby matches to keep us entertained but the match I really want to watch (Wales v. England) clashes with our our regular church attendance so I will have to try and time-shift it, if the BBC allows this (I was unsuccessful the last time I tried this as there may be ‘copyright’ issues)