Whilst the people of Ukraine face down the Russian war machine for the ego of one inadequate madman, never ones to miss the opportunity for self-aggrandisement when they could be doing something useful instead, various members of our government have been keeping the official photographer busy. James Cleverley has been photographed sat alone at a well-polished table showing us what lovely handwriting he has. Foreign Secretary and Thatcher-wanabee, Liz Truss has thrown herself into the dressing up box with increasingly gay abandon. Finally, the PM was photographed standing next to a plane last Thursday. Looking Very Serious Indeed. According to one of his sycophants who tweeted the picture, this was the “front line”. At Brize Norton. In Oxfordshire.
Now we are all used to all of the disinformation flying around, so one does need to be wary. I am pleased that Mr Cleverley is proud of his handwriting, although why he thinks we need to see it remains a mystery to me. I wish Ms Truss would stop her unconvincing drag act in a bid to show us what a wonderful PM she would be. And Mr Johnson? I live on that particular front line so I can let you have my live report.
I ventured bravely into Oxfordshire this morning, a notoriously lawless county. As it was raining and a bit cold, I put on a big coat. With a hood. I drove through some reasonably busy traffic to the supermarket, armed with a mask and some carrier bags where I talked to the self-checkout. I then returned to my house. As my village has had a pretty tense disagreement with the one next to us over the date of the Summer Fete this year, my house was, much to my surprise, still standing. I then walked the Hound when I weaved in and out of Oxfordshire. In the wind and rain. I bumped into a neighbour when we complimented each other on our impressive bouffants. So what I can tell you about this particular front line is this: avoid the M40 at rush hour if possible, the staff at Tesco are extremely helpful when the self-checkout accuses you of not scanning items that you have clearly scanned, and it is really quite muddy in the fields at the moment. Make sure you have good walking boots or wellies on. And a well-fitting hat would also be advisable if it is windy.
Meanwhile elsewhere in Europe, the people of Ukraine have some real issues on their hands. The Ukrainian President has declined to be airlifted out of his country. People are making Molotov cocktails and sheltering underground. It is reported that the Russian army has moved mobile crematoria to the front lines. Actual front lines. With machines designed specifically to process vast numbers of bodies. Because nothing gets in the way of an army advancing like piles of bodies.
Of course there is never anything so bad that there isn’t always someone who can’t make it even worse. Some British sanctions have thirty days before they kick in, leading many to opine as to the reason for this delay as the EU and the US seem to have managed it already. One MP has sensitively suggested that any Ukrainians who want to seek refuge in this country should apply to pick fruit. Because when you’re fleeing your home to escape being bombed to oblivion, do remember to make sure it’s in the right season and don’t forget to take a pen. My personal favourite so far in the shitstorm of inhumanity currently on display is from The Telegraph: “They seem so like us. That is what makes it so shocking. War is no longer something visited upon remote and impoverished populations.” Who signed that off? Good god.
This could all make one give up hope. And one could be forgiven for thinking that that is what it is designed to do. Don’t. Public opinion is doing a lot to move our politicians in the right moral direction, even if it is the threat of them losing their job that motivates them. The assistant in Tesco told me that they had had quite a number of people in buying supplies for humanitarian aid to be sent to Ukraine. It’s not fancy. We don’t have a photographer to show the world how clever we are. But it matters. When it comes down to it it’s all that matters. And it’s worth fighting for.