PC 280 One’s Heart

My sensitivity to the one organ of the body without which we can’t live will become apparent in due course. But first let me explain why I needed to scribble something; ‘needed’ as in ‘have to’!

I enjoy a wide variety of programmes broadcast on television, from The Repair Shop (see PC 274 Tick Tock March 2022) through all sorts of films and drama series to Grand Designs, a programme of 22 Series, each of nine episodes, featuring individuals building their own ‘grand design’ house. I have seen many of these and feel there are two issues common to every programme; all builds go over budget and every woman client gets pregnant during the construction!

Sorry! I digress. Recently we have loved the final series of the BBC drama The Split about the lives and loves of a family law firm in London (Note 1). Of course these days if you get hooked early on you can use BBC iPlayer and watch the rest one after the other. It used to be that ‘to binge’ meant a period of excessive indulgence in an activity, especially eating, drinking or taking drugs. Nowadays you could add ‘binge watch’ to describe seeing every episode one after the other, being impatient with the TV scheduling! And this is not to say that the original binge activities are not mutually exclusive from each other and this new meaning.

If you haven’t seen The Split, here comes what’s known as a ‘spoiler alert’. I remember my grandmother betting on the football pools and the television announcer giving the day’s results saying: “If you don’t want to know the result, look away now.” (Note 2) In this final series, at the end of episode one, James is knocked off his bike and killed. The writer Abi Morgan writes: “To kill a much-loved character is always hard but I felt in a way this was the arc of his journey. One of the last things he says to his wife is ‘I don’t want to miss life, Rose.’ I thought if that’s what the audience is left with then what an amazing gift to have left everybody.” Not quite sure I understand this but I am not a writer of dramas so the nuance may be lost on me?

For me the issue is a more basic one, about his heart. Prompted by a shortage of people opting to allow their organs to be transplanted to help someone else, the law in England changed in May 2020. Now it is considered that you agree to become an organ donor when you die, providing you are over 18, have not opted out (still an option) or are not in an excluded group. Other countries may have different rules. I suspect we have all thought about being a volunteer organ donor and just never got around to it; now you don’t have to think about it!! Phew! All the details are found at www.organdonation.nhs.uk. Being reasonably young, James’s heart was a good organ for transplanting and it was placed in the chest of other chap; let’s call him Andy. All good and nothing for me to get incredulous about. Over the ensuing months Rose his widow comes to terms with James’ death and agrees with a counsellor that she’s ready to meet the chap in whose body her husband’s heart pumps.

She arranges to visit Andy and his wife at teatime. After the initial hugs and expressions of ‘heart-felt’(!) gratitude we get to the bit where for me time stopped. Rose just happens to have a stethoscope in her bag and, with Andy’s obvious consent, places the pad on his chest, over his heart. The only sound one hears is the regular beat of a healthy heart. But this is James’ heart, sorry, no, it’s now Andy’s – but Rose has heard it beating before no doubt, maybe lying with her face across James’ chest after an afternoon’s romantic country picnic. The turmoil of emotions she must feel were transmitted to us, the audience, well to me certainly. I can think of recipients of kidneys, bits of liver or bone marrow and I’m unaffected, but to personally listen to a sound you have known in another body is just so weird. Sorry rant over!

My sensitivity to the heart started in 2013 when I went to my GP with irregular chest pains. An ECG was followed by an Angiogram that found a reduction in the diameter of the main artery of some 80%. So the heart was fine, the piping needed replacing; a triple bypass sorted it out (Note 3). But I could have joined the 60,000 people in the UK who have a heart attack every year, away from hospital – of whom 5% survive!! I could have been one of those 57,000 – I could have died! Lucky, huh! Physically I feel fantastic and manage my five hot yoga sessions a week with ease, but there is this little piece of memory that keeps me smiling; put simply, I might not have been here. Today I went down to the beach, to look at the calm sea; (we have high pressure!) Did it make any difference that I was still here, that I hadn’t died? Would nature notice my absence? The sun will surely rise tomorrow, whether I’m here or not; funny thing, life.

Richard 29th April 2022


PS In PC 278 Unintended Consequences I wrote how us chaps must take care of our crown jewels. Jeremy Clarkson, writing in the Sunday Times on Easter Sunday, two days later, about his home gym, said this: “……  after a few seconds the pedal fell off the bicycle, which caused my testes to slump heavily onto the saddle. So I had to spend the next ten minutes uncrossing my eyes and  ….”!

Note 1. The issues covered included a long con artist, early pregnancy, an affair which is further complicated by a pregnancy, a divorce, a marriage and an unrealistic love affair. Exhaustingly busy!!

Note 2 This could have been Manchester United 1 Brighton & Hove Albion 3 – but maybe in my dreams?

Note 3. The human heart is about the size of a fist. For the new pipework the surgeon, or maybe one of his minions, took a vein from a leg. My left leg has a scar from mid-thigh to my ankle, some 65 centimetres of vein, to replace three pieces 8cms long??????

PC 279 Starstreak

As much as we would love it to be otherwise, there is probably a point when all of us could resort to violence. It’s like saying to someone ‘I will give you some money if you …..?’ ‘What’s your price?’ …. and they protest and say ‘I can’t be bribed’ and then they are given a figure which starts their own internal challenging of the issue but still they resist ….. until an amount is offered which would transform their life and their principles lie shattered on the floor …… and they take it!

I think it’s same with violence. Unless you are tricked into a situation when struggle is immediately rewarded with your demise, such as trying to escape a concentration camp by climbing the fence in full view of trigger-happy guards, a one-on-one situation will quickly move towards some physical or assisted response. It’s one of the reasons why countries where guns are readily available have higher deaths per million of population than those who don’t. On the sliding scale of responses, going from A-Z if there are graduated options is better than if Z is very close to A.  

But the desire to defend what we hold dear, the values of our chosen society, is basic. Most countries have some form of Armed Forces the notable exception being Costa Rica, which abolished its military in 1948 after a bloody civil war.

Here is England one of our kings, Harold, was killed when an arrow fired into the sky embedded itself in his eye. Ouch! It wasn’t the first time that projectiles fired into the sky had been used to attack ground forces but the advent of heavier-than-air machines in the First World War meant Biggles-type pilots flying over the enemy trenches could drop hand-grenades and bombs. Those below responded by firing their rifles and machine guns; thus started the need for defence from attack from the air.

Some 47 years after the end of that war I walked across the threshold of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and spent the next 20 years wearing a uniform. I spent some years in West Germany looking east towards the threat from the USSR and the Warsaw Pact. My last role was commanding an Air Defence Battery in the UK equipped with a first generation, shoulder-launched missile system called Blowpipe. The operator had to track the target and the missile at the same time and hopefully the two combined in some impact. (Notes 1 & 2) It was first used in anger during The Falklands War, whose 40th anniversary fell this month. Like many first-generation systems it was extremely difficult to use and came in for a lot of criticism from those who imagined you simple fired the missile at a target and got a hit. (Note 3) Records suggest its operators succeeded in bring down 5 aircraft.

Towards the end of my Battery Commander tour, during a bi-annual live firing practice camp at the Royal Artillery Range at Manorbier in South Wales, I was approach by someone from Short Brothers, the company who made the system, and offered a potential sales role. I joined them in April 1985 and became a salesman for air defence missile systems, initially for Blowpipe’s successor Javelin. (Note 4)

I was a typical salesman, developing contacts and giving presentations and demonstrations to those who were responsible for such purchases; loo paper, cars, mobile telephones or missiles, it’s the same basic process although a ‘demonstration’ for ‘loo paper’ might be an unnecessary one!! My ‘pilot’ bag contained slides and videos and I got on an aeroplane at Heathrow – initially to European capital cities and then to ‘India and The Far East’.   

Whispered confidential conversations about the next generation system during a visit to the manufacturing plant off Montgomery Road in East Belfast (now Thales Air Defence) got me up to date with what the company called Starstreak.

Starstreak comprises a rocket which blasts three little steel darts, captured in a laser beam, towards the target. The kinetic energy released on impact is enough to destroy the aircraft. I used to travel with one of those three darts in my pilot’s bag to aid my presentations. I would always declare it at Customs as that was the easiest way to get through. Most thought it was a scale model of a much larger missile; I did not enlighten them!

One particular memorable live firing demonstration took place at the company’s range at West Freugh south of Stranraer in Scotland. A delegation from Denmark watched as the three darts shredded a canvas sheet sitting on a raft about 2500m out to sea. I left the company in 1991 and completely forgot about it – until last month when I read that it had been used in the war in Ukraine. Whatever development programme you might have been involved in, it’s gratifying to read that the end result is a highly successful addition to an army’s air defence capability.

The Tripod-mounted Starstreak

On Wednesday The Times reported that the UK are giving Ukraine the Starstreak system mounted on a tracked vehicle called Stormer.

And finally, an Army connection! I met Crichton at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst on the 9th September 1965; he was commissioned into the Royal Gloucesters. It’s lovely to still be in touch and he commented on Unintended Consequences post card (PC 277 April 2022): “I am constantly impressed by your ability to write about complete trivia (I don’t think all of my posts are trivial!!) but make it interesting and fun, especially when you have been people watching in your local café!”


Richard 22 April 2022

www.postcardscribbles .co.uk

Note 1 CLOS Command to Line of Sight is the basic. Then Semi-Automatic Command to Line of Sight (SACLOS) and finally Automatic (ACLOS) when the system tracks both target and missile

Note 2 The Irish Republican Army (IRA) was always looking to buy weapons for its conflict against the British State. The cartoonist Jak brilliantly summed this up, depicting someone holding a Blowpipe cannistered missile for sale, with the caption acknowledging its native origins.

But don’t ask me what end you blow through!

Note 3 There are two basic types, one infra-red seeking aka ‘Fire & Forget’, and one which relies on the operator or system to track the target.

Note 4 This name is now used by the American company Lockheed Martin for their Anti-Tank missile system.

PC 278 Refuge – The Hope Café

Refuge:  ‘shelter or protection from danger or distress’, ‘a place that provides shelter or protection’ or ‘something to which one has recourse in difficulty’.

Haven’t managed to get to the Hope Café for a while, so it was good to push open the black-framed door and enter its cosy warm space – a sort of personal refuge. Nothing had changed so it’s comforting to see the familiar! I reach a table near my normal one as that’s occupied and raise a hand to Josh, who indicates a double espresso is on its way.

Susie is also behind the counter so he brings it over:

Morning! Haven’t seen you for a while! You OK?”

Yup! Fine! You?”

“Of course! You probably expected to see Sami here but he’s gone on holiday, now his evidence to the Post Office Inquiry is over. He thought it went well but he was exhausted having to relive the sequence of events that eventually resulted in his bankruptcy.”

“Poor chap! Really hope that he and all those wronged individuals get good compensation.”

As Josh ensures there are no crumbs from the previous occupant of my table by wiping with a cloth, he turns his head towards another table. “There’s a lady over there who has heard about you and wants to tell you something. Her name’s Edith.”

I pick up my notebook and walk across to the purple-hatted elderly lady who has a pot of tea, a crumpet and an empty chair in front of her. “Hello Edith! My name’s Richard and Josh tells me you want to chat?”

A crumpet with lots of butter!

“Sit down, Richard” she says in heavily accented English, “I recognise you from standing outside Trinity Medical Centre a year ago (See PC 224 Trinity) but more importantly I overheard your conversation with Josh the other week about how Jews fled from Nazi Germany. I was one of those refugees; I was aged 3 and more to the point, came from Prague with a great friend of mine Marie Korbel.

“Not a name I recognise! Who is she?”

She looked down and I saw a page ripped from The Times with the obituary of Madeleine Albright.

 “Was! She became the American politician Madeleine Albright and her obituary was in the paper on 23rd March; she was 84. Apparently she had been a refugee twice in her life. The first time was aged 2, when her family fled to London as their home in Czechoslovakia was occupied by the Nazis in 1939. It was almost sixty years later that she learned that her grandparents and a dozen of her relatives had died in Auschwitz and other concentration camps. After a brief return to Prague, the Soviet-backed communist coup in 1948 saw the family sail for the USA. It says here that Madeleine thought Britain welcomed refugees then asked when they would be leaving, while in America they felt welcomed and were asked when they would become US citizens.”

“You didn’t go back to Prague, Edith?”

“No! My parents found work, I went to school and became ‘English’; have been living quietly here in Hove for years.” She reached out and put a slender hand marked by purple veins and parchment-like skin on my arm. “Now you can mention me in your writings, again!” she said with a smile as she turned back to her crumpet.

That’s a really interesting comment about how we British expect refugees to return home, especially today when millions of Ukrainians have fled the conflict engulfing their country. I sense Ukrainians who have been displaced by the conflict will, in their hearts, want to return. The issue may be when that will be possible, given the wanton destruction and therefore rebuilding necessary. By that time they, like Edith, will have become embedded in their host countries, adults into work, children into school and so on.

We used to have a history of welcoming refugees in this country, starting with the Huguenots. They were French Protestants who were so persecuted by the Catholic Government of France in the C17th that they fled, in huge numbers. Some 45,000 sought refuge in England, others in non-Catholic countries in Europe or in the United States and Africa. They brought the French word refuge into the English language as refugee. (Note 1) 

Jews were banned from this country for 300 years before Oliver Cromwell overturned the ban in 1656. Since then there has been a steady trickle and a surge in 1938/1939 of whom Edith and Marie Kobel were just two. Parts of North London are heavily populated by Orthodox Jews.

Whilst the plight of the Ukrainian refugees and their treatment or non-treatment remains headline news, the English Channel continues to be a popular route for others. Refugees from Iraq, Iran, Syria and Afghanistan particularly, some 5000 so far this year (Note 3 & 4), are making the perilous 22 mile crossing from the Calais area to Dover in dangerously overloaded inflatable dinghies in journeys organised by people smugglers.

I read an interesting and arresting news item in the paper last week. The head of the White Helmets group of search & rescue volunteers in Syria, currently numbering some 3200 individuals, accused European nations of giving preferential treatment to the refugees from the Ukraine over those from the civil war in Syria. The figures suggest he’s correct; over six years some 20,000 Syrian refugees have settled in Britain, whereas 22,000 visas have been granted to Ukrainian refugees in the past month. (Note 2) “It’s double standards. Refugees should be treated equally regardless of their race, ethnicity or religion, because they have equal rights.” In an ideal world he’s probably right, but ideals suffer for pragmatism and I suspect European Ukrainians are viewed as having more equal rights than Arab Syrians.

And finally, in last month’s PC 275 ‘Kerfuffle’ I scribbled about the use of two swear words f**k and s**t. Two weeks on and Rose Wild in The Saturday Times reports that the subject is very current!!

A busy morning in The Hope Café!!

Richard 15th April 2022


Note 1 Refugee: “The UK government accepts someone as a refugee if he or she has fled their own country because of a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group of political opinion.”

Note 2 Our Home Office has come in for a great deal of criticism over its handling of those from Ukraine wishing to move here.

Note 3 Some 600 on one day this week, the 13th April. Nine out of ten are economic migrants and are male. The Government plans to send them ‘for processing’ to Rwanda!

Note 4. The breakdown of illegal immigrants arriving last year across the English Channel is thus:

PC 277 Unintended Consequences

I know some people have stopped reading, listening to or watching the current news stories, such is their general gloomy and doomy nature. Personally I am a news sponge, soaking up the facts, the fiction and the analysis; history is being made as I write. Years ago there was a newscaster here in the UK who tried to provide exclusively ‘good news’ stories; it didn’t last long!  Today there are many websites offering it: www.goodnewsnetwork.org – “good news itself is not in short supply; the broadcasting of it is.” Or www.postive.news –  “the first media organisation in the world that is dedicated to quality, independent reporting about what’s going right.” (See PS Below)

I guess the broadcasting organisations give us the gloomy and doomy stuff because there is something compulsive about its absorption; a little like driving past the scene of an automobile accident – and having to look, to stare, to work out what happened. If you are driving at the time this is an absolute no-no. (Note 1) There’s even a verb in English to describe this foolish action – ‘To Rubberneck’. 

My car key fob: open, close and open tailgate

‘In the old days’ some things were much simpler but technology has given us gadgets galore to make our lives easier. I mentioned amongst other things in PC 167 Modern Complexity (January 2022) the TV remote controls; the need to get up off the sofa to change a TV channel was erased overnight. It’s the same with the locking/unlocking device for your car. A real key was necessary to unlock the doors and boot. Then a remote locking system became pretty standard. My Saab’s key was actually hidden inside a moulding, which fitted into the slot on the console.

On Monday last week I met up with Jon in Bill’s in Lewes. Bill’s, a quirky restaurant both in food and decor, was started by Bill Collison in Lewes in 2001; the second one opened in Brighton and now there are currently over 70 branches in the UK.

Produce for sale in Bill’s

I had parked in the local Tesco car park (free for 3 hours!). After a convivial lunch we walked together upriver back to the car park and to our respective cars; Dick Head had parked so close to me I could not get in the driver’s side. (Note 2)

Fortunately the parking space on the passenger side was empty. I unlocked the door by pressing the key fob ‘unlock’ (obviously) and lowered myself onto the passenger seat then lifting my right leg and placing it in the driver’s side foot-well. It was a good thing I do Yoga as this sort of manoeuvre requires certain flexibility. All good! The key fob was in my right hand and inadvertently the tailgate button got pressed. It rose silently and gracefully into the damp air and it was this, the sense of the damp air that alerted me to the problem. Note 3.

The only way to close it is by pressing the button on the tailgate itself! I extract myself from my delicate position astride both front seats and exit the car. I walk around to close the tailgate and make a second attempt to get into the driver’s seat from the passenger side, keeping an eye on the safety of the Crown Jewels, the proximity of the handbrake level and the location of the key fob. Success! Key into the ignition, start the engine and reverse out of my space.

Mentioning ‘the Crown Jewels’ and we are not talking here of what HM might wear to the State Opening of Parliament, reminded me of other slang words for male genitalia: ‘lunch box’, ‘meat and two veg’, ‘naughty bits’, ‘tackle’ to mention a few. Believe me, banging the Crown Jewels is momentarily completely incapacitating and has been compared with child birth. As pain is very subjective it’s impossible to make a judgment, apart from saying that pain in the nuts fades quite quickly whereas giving birth can take many hours.

But this little experience reminded me of cinematic recreations of two individuals trying to make love in a car. Invariably there is a great deal of huffing and puffing before achieving their goal, for which they should be awarded an Olympic medal for gymnastics. Steamy windows? Well only when Mr Plod spots the car in the deserted car park with its four way flashers operating (something inadvertently pressed the button) and tries to see what’s going on. What was it Tina Turner sang: ‘Steamy windows – zero visibility. Steamy windows – coming from the body heat!

Recently there has been a move to make our internet purchases more secure, by the introduction of a ‘security code’ sent to your mobile telephone. This is a good idea, except that it is not instantaneous! The other morning I bought something online, was told to wait for the ‘security code’ ……. and I waited …… and I waited ….. the page on the website asked whether we wanted to log out ……. I made a cup of coffee …… I checked my text messages – nothing …… I waited …… and finally, after 38 minutes, I got the code which if I had actually been patient and waited for it, would probably have ‘time-expired’! (Note 4)

Now, next week I will be scribbling about …………..

Richard 8th April 2022


PS  Something to mull over; this week recorded the 40th day of the Ukrainian war. In that time western allies of Ukraine have delivered some one billion dollars’ worth of military hardware. On the other side, Russia is receiving one billion dollars each DAY in revenue from its oil and gas sales. 

Note 1 Researchers in the USA estimate that 10-16% of all accidents there are caused by rubbernecking, ie distracted drivers. Some 1000 people are injured daily by distracted driving. You have only got to go onto YouTube to watch people being complete ****wits!

Note 2 In the last year I have lost some weight ….. but the bones don’t shrink! There was absolutely no room – well 15 cms perhaps.

Note 3 Recorded by the comedian Gerald Hoffnung (1925 – 1959), The Bricklayers Story is a tale of unintended consequences and my car experience reminded me of it. Although dated (1958) it should raise a laugh if you listen to it on YouTube. Hoffnung had fled Nazi Germany as a boy in 1939 and died in Hampstead of a cerebral haemorrhage aged 34.

Note 4 I had bypassed the code system by simply putting in my details and finished the payment.

PC 276 Pictures at an Exhibition

I imagine we’ve all traipsed around art galleries at some point in our lives, whether on a school trip to one’s town or city’s municipal display or to the capital city, as a student of ‘Art’ or as an adult who appreciates drawings, paintings and sculptures. In London this would probably mean visiting the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square, the National Portrait Gallery around the corner in St Martin’s Place, Tate(s) Modern and Britain, The Royal Academy of Arts on Piccadilly, The Hayward and The Serpentine. Abroad and you’re also spoilt for choice, with The Louvre in Paris,

…… the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, MoMA and The Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Museu de Arte do Rio in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro or the galleries in every state capital in Australia; the list is endless.

My view of Aberystwyth in Wales

Using the verb ‘to traipse’ might give you a clue as to my abiding feeling, ‘To walk or move wearily’; initially I am always enthusiastic but find after two hours I have had enough and need to sit. Sitting in front of an internationally renowned painting doesn’t work, as the crowds of visitors block your view. It’s better to find a less popular artist and a work you can get lost in, if you get my meaning. I visited one gallery every time I went to Copenhagen on business back in the 1980s, just to sit in front of one particular painting, in silence, and get my fix! If you don’t want to wear out your shoe leather you can always look at all the paintings and creations on line, in detail, up close.

Local artists here in Brighton and Hove have a large choice of wall space on which to hang their creations, some obviously for sale but others simply to grow their following. These days they probably do that on Instagram as well.

My latest triptych

At this point you might wonder why I am scribbling about a subject, Pictures at an Exhibition, which is already covered by thousands of books and here’s me trying to be succinct, in a thousand words! The connection is the capital city of Ukraine, one we knew as Kiev and now know as Kyiv.

My knowledge of Russian classical composers only covers four of the main five and probably just their more well-known works. (See PC 109 That Reminds Me (1) November 2017) Think Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (Scheherazade and The Flight of the Bumblebee), Alexander Borodin (Prince Igor), Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (the ballets Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker, his Symphony no 6 (Pathétique) and the Violin Concerto in D major) (Note 1) and Mussorgsky (Pictures at an Exhibition). What I hadn’t known was that Mussorgsky’s first name was Modest! A quick Google search reveals it’s not unusual in Russia as a male first name and its female version Modesty is tagged internationally to the main character of the comic strip Blaise.

I can’t imagine that the saying ‘Modest by name, modest by nature’ applying to a classical music composer with a big ego but I can’t find the origin of the saying so it may be I dreamt it?

Modest Mussorgsky 1839 – 1881

Mussorgsky had been born in 1839, some five years after the artist, architect and designer Viktor Hartmann had been born in St Petersburg. They probably met in 1868 and quickly became friends, both devoted to the cause of Russian art. Hartmann gave Mussorgsky a couple of paintings; Mussorgsky dedicated a composition to Hartmann. Sadly five years later Hartmann died of a suspected aneurism aged only 39 and Mussorgsky became deeply depressed. Friends of Hartmann organised a memorial exhibition in the Imperial Academy of Arts in St Petersburg in February 1874; over 400 paintings were exhibited, including the two that Mussorgsky owned.

Inspired by his friend’s paintings, Mussorgsky composed ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’, a suite of ten piano pieces with a recurring theme, in three weeks in 1874. It was not well received and didn’t get published until five years after Mussorgsky’s early death at the age of 42. I probably have heard the whole suite but it’s the Great Gate of Kiev that is memorable and my ears can recognise it instantly. Hartmann had designed a monumental gate for Tsar Alexander ll (1818 – 1881) to commemorate his escape from an assassination attempt in 1866 – “in the ancient Russian massive style with a cupola shaped like a Slavonic helmet”. The sketch The Bogatyr Gates was included in the exhibition and became the 10th piano piece.

The painting which prompted Mussorgsky’s The Great Gate of Kiev is top left

Other paintings of the ten included a ‘ballet of un-hatched chicks’, two Jewish men, a dark painting of the catacombs and the ‘Hut on Hen’s legs’.  I have this rather romantic notion that all cities had monumental entrance gates; maybe I have watched too many Ben Hur-type movies. Certainly the inner city boundaries have been subsumed by urban sprawl and Kyiv doesn’t have anything resembling Hartmann’s design.

Watching the current wanton destruction of Ukraine’s villages, towns and cities raises many questions; how do people survive, how will they be rebuilt and who will pay for the rebuilding, currently estimated to be $100 billion but this is just a finger in the air figure? But rebuilt they will be and tourists in the future will wander the streets of, for instance, the old port city of Mariupol and marvel at the ancient buildings and narrow streets.

If they have no knowledge of history they will be none the wiser. Take Warsaw, a city flattened by the vengeful Nazis after the 1944 Warsaw Uprising of the Polish resistance. The uprising infuriated German leaders, who decided to destroy the city as retaliation.

The ‘old’ centre of Warsaw today

It was rebuilt brick by brick, stone by stone, to look exactly as it had.

Richard 1st April 2022


Note 1 Possibly Tchaikovsky’s most famous work is his 1812 Overture, composed in 1880 to commemorate the Russian defence of Moscow against Napoleon’s invading armies sixty-eight years previously.