Saturday, 19th March, 2022

[Day 733]

Another fine day bcckons, so Meg and I are resolved to make the most of it. Today was always going to be quite a full day what with one thing or another. Whilst Meg was occupied showering, I went through some bathroom cabinets to rescue what duplicates we have of shower requisites and diverse other cosmetic type things to donate to an Ukraine appeal. As the bag was so heavy, we felt we had better go down to the insurance company organising the appeal and parked, semi-illegally, for the minute or so that it took to drop off our goodies (and they were teeming with material) The newsagent’s wife tells me that she herself had donated two carrier bags full, one of groceries and the other of toiletries in the last day or so. Apparently, the ‘cake sale’ raised £750 which the insurance company were going to match, thus doubling the total. All of the donated goods are going to go to the premises of the ‘Worcester warriers’ rugby club where they are going to be sorted and appropriately parcelled up. From there, they are going to be transported to the Poland-Ukraine border for distribution where they are needed – presumably in Poland itself. as they have 1.1 million refugees. I imagine and hope that there is a massive collective effort going across Europe to assist those who the Russians accuse of being ‘Nazis’ and ‘Fascists’ There is a terrible appropriation of terminoloty here as Vladimir Putin is himself a fascist autocrat, one who imprisons democratic opposition leaders and critics. He is the acknowledged leader of the global far right, which looks increasingly like a global fascist movement. Ukraine does have a far-right movement, and its armed defenders include the Azov battalion, a far-right nationalist militia group. But no democratic country is free of far-right nationalist groups, including the United States. In the 2019 election, the Ukrainian far right was humiliated, receiving only 2% of the vote. This is far less support than far-right parties receive across western Europe, including inarguably democratic countries such as France and Germany. Meanwhile, back at home, there was a prayer service for Ukraine organised by the borough council and a local baptist church (in the bandstand, which we often occupy when we are being rained upon). Next week, in our local Anglican church (the biggest in the town, complete with a clock and steeple) there is going to be a concert at 7.00pm next Saturday evening with attendance ‘free’ but donations sought to go the Ukranian relief effort. I presume that local musicians and choristers are giving their services free and I do not know what the programme will be. It must be the things that the musicians know well and do not need to rehearse and, under the circumstances, one would be very forgiving of an under-rehearsed performance.

Our friends in the park were explaining to us recently how Russia possesses, and had deployed, a new type of missile known as a hypersonic missile. Cutting the technicalities to a minimum, these missiles are fired into space and then drop to earth, presumably with a satelite guidance system onto their target at speeds which are Mach 4 i.e. four times the speed of sound. By way of comparison, a bullet from a high velocity rifle might travel at twice the speed of sound. Because of their speed, these weapons are almost impossible to guard against as no missile tracking system can track them or lock onto them. When they hit the target, they have enormous destructive power (imagine a small meteorite hitting the earth) before we even start to consider their explosive charge. Russia has claimed it used a hypersonic missile to strike a large weapons depot in western Ukraine. It marks the first time a Kinzhal – or ‘Dagger’ – missile has been deployed since Vladimir Putin sent his troops into Ukraine, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency. So this help to explain why the cities of the Ukraine are being pulverised as it were.

As a follower of ‘Six Nations’ rugby, one of the biggest upset in the history of the competition took place this afternoon. Italy has participated in the competition and played 36 matches without a victory until now. But in their match against Wales at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff this afternoon, the Italians were actually leading the Welsh until 12 minutes before the end. Then the Welsh scored and it looked as though the match was all over. Then in the last few minutes of the game, the Italians scored an incredible ‘break away’ try which was easily converted to give the Italians a one point victory. It is fair to say that the Italians have been steadily improving game by game but they have never even come close to beating an opponent until this year. The Welsh gave away a lot of needless penalties and one can only be extremely glad for the Italians to have gained a victory against anyone at last. The competition as a whole can only benefit from this, of course, even though Italy still occupies the bottom slot in the table.