There seems to be quite a crowded agenda of things which are about go belly up and disrupt our lives accordingly. Many, if not most, need not concern us here in Tellytubby land (aka Great Britain, the UK and Old Blighty), but the aftershock of some might well upset our teatime regimes and ensure that the good folk at the Foreign Office don’t knock off at lunchtime on a Friday, but hang around to sort matters out. Where can one begin?
The whole business with Greece - will they, won’t they fuck up the European part of the Western World by telling their creditors to piss off and re-introduce a glass of ouzo as their preferred unit of currency - might for some take centre stage. But let’s be honest, there’s enough shit going on in the world (at least in the Northern Hemisphere - South America, African nations, Asia have enough troubles of their own and aren’t necessarily inclined to spend their time worrying about us however much we might feel put out by their disinterest).
Elsewhere there’s the battle to kick ISIS (IS or ISIL, never trust anyone with more than two names) out of Mosul, then Tikrit (or Tikrit, then Mosul - subs please check), which might superficially sound encouraging until you hear of the concerns of those familiar with that neck of the woods that the Shia militias - which make up a substantial part of the forces fighting IS (ISIS or ISIL, never trust anyone with more than two names - same joke, but I go along with Sam Goldwyn who believed that ‘if they liked it once, they’ll love it twice’) - might well not stick to the more or less admirable plan to neutralise IS, but carry on and kill each and every Sunni they come across.
This, the worriers concede, might well irritate the Saudis - Sunnis to a man (forget about the woman there I’m told). Given that conventional wisdom insists that almost all the trouble in the Middle East is at heart a proxy war between the Sunni Saudis and the Shi’ite Iranians, any ‘peace envoys’ from anywhere are quite simply wasting their time.
But that’s not quite it: there’s also the ongoing bollocks in Eastern Ukraine. And that is where the latest piece of news I have come across fits in.
. . .
I have almost finished reading Petet Pomerantsev’s very interesting and very readable book Nothing Is True And Everything Is Possible, and it gave me a fascinating insight into - well, it has to be said - metropolitan Russia, i.e. Moscow. Then, last night, I watched a BBC 2 Newsnight report about the gunning down of Boris Nemtsov which suggested that Vladimir Putin is perhaps not quite as in control of Russia as many, probably Putin himself, like to think. And then I came across these two accounts in the Guardian and the Telegraph, both suggesting that Putin might be ill.
The first thing I noticed was that his age was given as 62. Well, I thought, he’s as healthy as a rat in shit - I’m 65, three years older and have never felt fitter, so why the bloody hell should he be ill? Nonsense, of course - my mother died of a massive heart attack at 60.
No one actually knows whether Putin is ill. They only know that ‘he hasn’t be seen in public’ since March 5. First question: so what? I have just spent three days in bed with a bad cold (for my feminist readers who like to have a good laugh: man flu) and I wasn’t ‘seen in public’ for three days. But there’s the rub: first of all it is now March 12, so Putin ‘hasn’t been seen in public’ for seven days.
Then there’s the obvious point - good of you to point it out - that in the context of world peace I am not half as important or even as influential as Putin.
So what can it mean? Well, I don’t know, to be honest. And I must admit that feeling, as one does, quite low when one is afflicted by a bout of man flu, it is a relief not to be obliged to release hourly bulletins as to how you are getting one, with additional piccies to substantiate the veracity of the bulletins.
Folk like Putin, apparently, are obliged to. Or else we must Fear The Worst!
Putin is, after all, the man of iron who is apt to wrestle two tigers solo before breakfast. I have noted before in my many ramblings about the former Soviet Union - for I think it is healthier to see it in those terms rather than Russia - that what is most worrying about what is happening there and what might affect us here in the West is the question of succession. It isn’t as though there is some respected and trusted mechanism for the passing on of power.
It seems that there are two distinct factions in the Kremlin as regards the Ukraine: the Peace faction and the War faction. And the names speak for themselves. So - if they exist and it is not all some figment of some journalist’s imagination - to which faction does Putin belong?