I seem to have spent most of the last hour crying. Now we are on the weather forecast I am sniffing and blowing my nose; there’s a heavy feeling in my heart. In my head I keep hearing the Beatles song Back in the USSR, and the lines the Ukraine girls really knock me out, they leave the West behind. I’m not sure I should be anywhere near as brave as the Ukraine girls I have just watched on Channel 4 News. Actually, I am sure, I shouldn’t be.
I was cooking, so my tears dripped into the red bean stew with millet pilaf and greens, a meal I haven’t made in a while. I finished cooking and ate, still watching the news.
Clive James, now departed from this mortal coil, used to write a TV column for the Observer. In one he made a remark about Kate Adie, saying that if Kate Adie appeared on our screens reporting from somewhere we knew it was serious. Kate Adie doesn’t report from danger zones now, but Matt Frei and Lindsey Hilsum are carrying on her tradition, both reporting from inside Ukraine, while Paraic O’Brien reports from the border with Hungary, and the rest of the impressive news team fill in the gaps from elsewhere.
I’ve not been a fan of Matt Frei, but this war has changed that. His reporting, his interviews, some of which are with people in Russia who seem downright deluded in a way that I have not seen since watching reels of dedicated Nazis defending the Third Reich, are superb. One was with Natalya something, a former Russian MP who kept on about how the invasion was to deNazify Ukraine, a line she returned to again and again. Another, Dmitry Suslov, either totally believes what Putin is saying, or has decided repeating his boss’ words are the surest way to avoid the gulag or worse. I can’t find the Natalya Thingamabob one, but if you can bear it watch and listen to Dmitry here. In both cases Frei challenged what they were saying. He wasn’t aggressive, but he was clearly disbelieving.
That African students trying to leave Ukraine being pushed back at the border with Poland is damnable. One of those moments when it is really hard to believe what you are hearing. I am still not clear if this is official policy or the actions of some undoubtedly racist officials. Either way it is wrong, inexcusable and wicked.
Just like this war.