Thursday, 22nd September, 2022

[Day 920]

Today dawned somewhat duller and certainly cooler so we must get gradually used to the colder days of autumn. As we have now passed the date of September 21st yesterday, we are just more than half way between the longest day and the shortest day. In general, I quite like the autumn probably because it was always the start of something new such as a new university term or the start of a new job. October, which is nearly upon us, I quite enjoy but November is just a month that has to be ‘lived through’ before we start to think about the celebrations of Christmastime. However, we group of ‘old fogies’ who were due to meet for a get together in Winchester chose a date which unfortunately for us the railway unions did as well as they announced a strike on Otober 5th. So we have postponed our get-together until November which does have the bonus of alleviating what would otherwise be quite a dull month. Meg and I popped into the park not expecting to see anybody in particular but we did commune a little with Inveterate Octogenerian Hiker and then a few minutes later with Seasoned World Traveller. We put the world to rights, as we normally do, and then discussed the geopolitics of the moment which inevitably means Putin. We had both seen on the news that up to 1,300 Muscovites had come out onto the streets to protest against Putin mobilising anybody who had some military training in his war on the Ukraine. Considering that this might result in a severe beating following by up to 5 years in gaol in the most squalid of conditions, these protesters must be brave indeed. Waves of young men, often strongly encouraged by their parents have headed out of Russia as fast they can with Georgia being a particular favourite as there is no need (yet) to secure a visa. I think that many politically informed young men are calculating that the reservists might be called up first and they will almost certainly follow and they have no desire to be used as cannon fodder in Putin’s war. I heard a military analyst on Radio 4 this morning as I was getting ready to go shopping who was saying that the extremely low rate of morale in the current Russian front line in the Ukraine was all pervasive. This being the case, Putin’s hold on the areas that he has invaded must be a little tenuous to put it mildly. Perhaps, and this is being optimistic, things might come to such a pitch that the Russian soldiers might capitulate quite easily and the army collapse rather like a dam being breachd. Most predictions, though, are for a long slog in which it takes months, if not years, for the conflict to be resolved.

This afternoon was rather dominated by the fact that I walked down into town to fulfil a doctor’s appointment arranged a week or so ago. I joked with the doctor that whatever symptoms you have seem to diminish once you were actually sitting in the doctor’s waiting room. Actually, I was not unpleased to be making a visit down into the town because I needed to pick up some of the labels that I use to label my damson gin bottles. I had ordered some of my favourite design that I had used for years and they had been delivered to the Ryman’s store in Bromsgrove. Having picked up my ordered labels, I paid a visit to the carousel where the labels are usually stored and Sod’s Law sprung into operation as the store happened to have plenty in stock. Nonetheless, I bought several extra packets of labels so I now have sufficient not only for this year but for some years ahead. I also took the opportunity to get an important letter posted – it is quite rare for me to commit anything to the post these days. Then it was a walk home thrugh some gentle rain – Meg and I treated ourselves to an an ‘autumn’ type tea in which we make a thick mushroom soup combining the remainder of last week’s mushrooms with a tin of mushroom soup.

The international news is of course dominated by the news from Russia that Putin is going to try and mobilise 300,000 reervists to fight in the Ukraine. Our own Ministry of Defence (MOD) is arguing that the Russian president is likely to struggle with the logistical and administrative challenges of even mustering the 300,000 personnel. They are also saying that it is unlikely to be combat effective for months and the move is effectively an admission that Russia has exhausted its supply of willing volunteers to fight in Ukraine. The MOD continuedby saying that even this limited mobilisation is likely to be highly unpopular with parts of the Russian population and that Putin is accepting considerable political risk in the hope of generating much needed combat power. Although the censorship in Russia is incredibly pervasive, in these internet days many young Russians are undoubtedly discounting whatever Putin has to say and relying upon other news channels to find out what is going in their own country.