Tuesday, 15th March, 2022

[Day 729]

Well, today has been quite an interesting day what with one thing or another. Again, like yesterday, it was a beautiful day and Meg and I walked to the paper shop, calling in at Waitrose en route to collect some supplies. Then we made our way to the park where we were pleased to have a sit down and to enjoy a little more spring sunshine. We knew that we did not have to tarry too long as Tuesday is my day for my weekly Pilates session so we set off for home in plenty of time. On the way home, though, we bumped into our Italian friend and we had quite a long chat, mainly discussing the practicalities of hosting a Ukrainian refugee family. I told our Italian friend about the ‘Cake Sale’ being organised on Friday by one of the large insurance companies in the town and Meg and I will no doubt go down there (even though cake is not really ‘our thing’) and I wonder who else we will bump into when we get there. The chat with our friend made me a little late for my Pilates class so I really had to put my skates on to get myself turned out and ready for the class. On my way down, there was some surveying work going on along the pavements along the Kidderminster Road and I suspected that the firm was using ground penetrating radar or other types of instrumentation to determine the cables buried beneath the surface. But what was so remarkable was the variety of colours of both spray paint and chalk there were being used to indicate the type of cables and their location. I counted six different colours of paint that were being utilised (white, yellow, blue, green, orange and red) and the pavement rather looked as though a gaggle of primary school children had been let loose to do their best. In fact, when the work started yesterday, I asked one of the operatives whether they had been deprived of coloured crayons when they were a child and hence they had now got themselves into a job where they could spray away to their heart’s content.

On the way down to my Pilates class, I called in at an ATM in the wall of the Asda supermarket which is on the way to the location where my class is held. I requested that the ATM dispense £200 and my card was accepted and then returned to me. Then a message came up which indicated that my cash was being counted and after an indeterminable time grinding some sort of mechanism, I waited for my cash in vain. After what seemed to be an eternity, a message came out to say the machine could not comply with my request but had I just lost my £200? Either the ATM had run out of cash or it was malfunctioning but there was no way of knowing which of these possiblities it was. The supermarket actually has two ATMs adjacent to each other and I managed to get the cash that I needed from the neighbouring machine. Then it was off to Pilates and my class before I walked home – but evidently whether or not I had just been deprived of £200 was preying on my mind. So when I got home, I immediately got onto my internet banking to discover that the first machine had indeed debited my account – but then another system had reinstated the money when it failed to dispense the cash. I suppose that this is the system working as it should but I have to say that having used ATMs for about 25 yers or so now, I have never had the experience such as I have experenced today. It really is one’s worst nightmare when the cash fails to appear but I suppose they have to run out of cash every so often and perhaps many people have this type of experience before – but not me.

There was an incredible happening on Channel One of the Russian state broadcaster. During a live broadcast on Monday evening, Marina Ovsyannikova, who is thought to have worked for the company for years, walked on to the set behind the presenter with a placard denouncing the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Following a court hearing, she was fined 30,000 roubles (£213), state media reported. It is not clear if she will face other, more serious charges over the protest because, in theory, she could spend the next 15 years of her life in gaol.

There is a hint tonight that the Ukrainian negotiating team may be prepared to buy peace by abandoning Ukraine’s ambition to join NATO. But, when the war ends, if Ukraine as an independent nation gets itself armed to the teeth and acquires a superb air defence system, perhaps it doesn’t need to join NATO at all. The Russians are not going to invade a well armed and prepared Ukraine on a second occasion, after all, if they eventually withdraw with a bloodied nose.