Weekly Column

Stormy Weather

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So Storms Dudley and Eunice have more or less blown through, leaving a trail of destruction and death behind them. Apparently Storm Franklin is due any minute. Let’s hope we don’t get to Storms Tineke, Vergil and Willemien, the names apparently planned for storms roughly 20 from now. Eunice would have been much worse for us in the West if the Severn high tide had coincided. Phew! Most of us have not much more than a dim understanding of the black lines and ‘LOW’ markings on the TV weather map, preferring just to batten down the hatches when the lovely Carol Kirkwood tells us to.The World map is a bit the same right now. I hope, like hope, that diplomacy may work; but I fear that a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, which looks very imminent, coupled with massive cyber and information warfare, diversionary tactics elsewhere- like the Arctic, perhaps; ‘false flag’ episodes to try to justify what is without doubt old fashioned empire-building of a kind we have not seen since Adolf Hitler. We may well see trouble in the Baltic States, perhaps forcing a corridor across Lithuania or Poland to the Russian Baltic Sea enclave of Kaliningrad; Bosnia may well descend into a Russian-supported war; several of the ‘Stans’ seem close to collapse.The West is looking weak, with an un-established German Chancellor, President Macron more concerned about getting re-elected than anything else; an antiquated President Biden with ex-President Trump making ever-more crazy noises just off stage. The geopolitical weather map is looking a touch stormy.Closer to home, the Royal family are seeing a few squalls which we all hope will pass in good time for a proper celebration of the glorious Platinum Jubilee. And one thing which HM the Queen does NOT need is Covid. We all wish her a speedy recovery. The economy is strong, but inflation a worrying symptom, as is a shortage of workers for key jobs; Brexit is more or less sorted, but there are black clouds both in Northern Ireland and in some aspects of our European ports; Covid is in sharp decline, but not without horrendous cost of life and money; and all of that is without mentioning Partygate, Dame Cressida Dick and a host of other brewing troubles.On a personal level, I have always rather prided myself on the ability to separate problems out and deal with them individually. I take the view that if it can be sorted, then sort it (I do dislike that GWR slogan); if you can’t sort it, then it’s not a problem. Others like to pile everything up into a great bonfire of troubles which as a result becomes insoluble. I try to remind some of my more troubled surgery cases that a good climber always keeps three points of contact with the rock, moving only one foot or hand at any one time. Some of my more unfortunate cases have three limbs dangling and are hanging onto the rock by the fingertips of one hand.So it must be with all of this. Each of these problems can be solved. It is the job of Statesmen to separate out the threads from the tangled ball of string and then roll them all up neatly and put them away for another day. Diplomacy must triumph in Ukraine; loyalty and pride in service in Royal circles; calm determination, cool clear thinking everywhere.This is not yet a perfect storm; but it could be.

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James Gray
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February 21, 2022