Hello from Eastbourne
I felt a pang of panic as the last Plague Journal deadline approached. What would I write? It's the end of the Journal (alas not the end of COVID) and I have achieved nothing. Over these last two years, I have read of folk learning a new skill. Pottery, I gather, has been a huge hit. Not for me, I haven't done a thing. I didn't think much had changed for me until I started pondering this journal entry.
We had a weekend away with 20 friends in the New Forest recently and it was so interesting. A few of our high achieving, work hard, play hard mates had thrown the professional towel in. Lockdown had plucked them out of the rat race and for the first time since graduation some 25 years ago, they were able to relax. No more commuter trains, no more airports, no more board meetings. Just cutting the grass and relaxing at home with spouses and children. The thought of returning to their old lives was too much to bear and they took control. They are finding their way as they go, they don't have backup plans. Houses have been sold and replaced with smaller, cheaper homes in smaller, cheaper towns. A few glasses of wine into the first evening when we were all gathered around a fire, I could sense that they were seeking reassurance that they had done the right thing, that it would all work out fine, they had enough cash for a few years if they were careful and the children would adjust to their new schools and make new friends. Blimey! However worried they were now, it must be nothing compared to the stressful, demanding lives they had before. One child, a teenager, had to leave her boyfriend in her old town, some 80 miles away. She spent the weekend glued to her phone, miserable, pining. I felt incredibly sorry for her but I could see that her parents would not have upped sticks if they didn't have to. Lockdown showed them what they were missing as a family.
Back to me though. During this time, I plodded along, tried to home school the children, tried to keep them busy, painted some furniture, did loads of gardening, sneaked illegally onto the Downs and drank far too much wine. I also got us a beautiful little cat and she means the world to me. I was quite happy (if tired with the bloody home schooling) although I was made redundant and pined for the job. I loved it and it occupied my thoughts during this time. I HAD to get that job back. Last summer, I succeeded, didn't like it one bit and left after six weeks! Yes, the job had changed, not for the better in truth but not drastically and I took myself by surprise. I had changed. There had been a shift. You see, I looked at photos of those clandestine dawn hikes on the Downs before the Old Bill were awake and about ordering people to go home and I saw that my children were so young in these photos. I looked at more recent photos and they are so utterly older and changed that I felt panicked. Our much loved parents suddenly seemed vulnerable too. Even now I ask myself "Was that really only two years ago?" The children still believed in Santa then. The eldest held my hand wherever we went (he now walks two paces behind me). I don't want to miss out, I don't want to miss a moment. And so the much loved job didn't work anymore, it was coming at too high a cost, I wasn't having family time. I am fortunate, we have not had to sell our home and move away. My family are everything to me and in four years time, my firstborn will be off to University. I will look back and treasure the memories of those hikes and secret swims. I can still see my son running towards me, wind in his hair, face flushed pink with health and happiness. His image is imprinted on my mind. My daughter skinny dipping, screaming and laughing at the shock of the cold sea making her feel alive. So no pottery or other skills for me, just a reminder that we must try to make the most of every moment. For me, it was a special time and I'm grateful for my own sake that it was positive. I do feel so for those that have suffered, God help them.
Thank you Margaret and Sheila for your commitment to this project and for inviting the children and I to join in. I have loved getting to know you all so much and I feel an intimacy with you all, as if we are a family. I will get to Norfolk and I will cuddle those cats! With much, much love, always, from Shirley-Anne x
Hello from Eastbourne
Dreams for the future by Franklin Lewis Macrae
There are no longer any COVID restrictions and this is good news! I found not going outside to be extremely boring. I took school for granted. I really enjoy learning and lockdown learning was terrible. I learn better at school, in a classroom, rather than the online MS Teams lessons. Recently, we were able to visit our grandparents in Oxford, which was nice, not just seeing them but being in a different town. We were able to go to cafés, go to museums and we didn't have to wear masks. I didn't mind the masks to be honest but my mum loathes them. We haven't travelled overseas in ages and this is something I really want to do. I want to go to Europe this summer, swim in warmer seas, see different things. I feel a bit fed up with the UK and Eastbourne. Going overseas on holiday might be dependent on whether I receive the vaccine or not as some countries insist on vaccination. I think I would like to wait a bit longer before making that decision but I might have to if I want to travel.
My dreams for the future are to go into space, fly helicopters, to do deep sea diving, speak several languages and become as physically and mentally strong as possible. Thank you for reading my Plague Journal entries.
The Return of Persephone or life as we knew it, by Marli Rose Macrae
The garden is dark. It's like a magician's cloak has been swept over my eyes. This midnight secretive garden is quite different to yesterday's garden. Yesterday's meant sun dappled lawn and sap green shoots of wonder poking their heads from the chestnut soil. It meant creeping into the little gap between the fence and the yew tree with my book. You have to crawl in but once in, you can stand up and no one even knows you are there. I could see a carpet of verdant yew needles, like tiny bud green wands casting spells of spring. The sunlight I could see was like topaz music notes, spread into a bewitching symphony. Lime vines of ivy spread through the evergreen yew. But tonight as I write, it is dark and I cannot see.
We have been doing tests at school all week so today we were allowed to have a fun day. From morning until lunch, we made dragon eggs. Previously in the week we wrote our own instructions on how to look after a baby dragon. I made two dragons, Frangle and Claudonia. Frangle is hot tempered and this is dangerous because in his fury, fire blasts from his nostrils. If you have a child dragon like Frangle, you must tell them to shut their eyes, count slowly to ten and take deep breaths. This will calm them down and prevent fires. Claudonia is a gentle dragon however, she doesn't get angry but you do need to feed her carrot mash. Both dragons are veggie but if they see a dog in the park, they will chase it. They won't hurt the dog, they just want to play. The dogs themselves like it, they aren't scared.
The tests are mock SATS. They aren't difficult but some children have been given an intervention. An intervention is when you have to stay behind at the end of the day to catch up because many children are behind due to the lockdowns. However, yesterday our teachers said there is now a 'Non Negotiable List' and if you make any of the mistakes on that list, you will lose playtime and lunchtime.
I received news of my secondary school allocation and I will be joining Franklin at his school, Gildrege House. Sadly, my best friend didn't get into the same school but two girls I don't like did get in! I am looking forward to wearing a blazer and a tie.
We went to Oxford in the half term for the first time in over a year. It was exciting to be somewhere different. I was so looking forward to seeing my Granny Aye, Pappa and auntie Hazel and seeing the beautiful town again. I saw my two little cousins too. I haven't been able to see them because of lockdowns. There is a café called The Vaults in the ancient church and it sells Welsh Rarebit which has the most wonderful flavour. We went to the Pitt Rivers with Granny to see the magical statues. On this occasion, I spent my time looking at the spells and superstitions. There were amulets to protect you against the 'evil eye'. Granny found all that stuff to be eerie and haunting to her mind.
After no performances over the last two years due to COVID, I took part in a dance competition at the theatre. It was called The Eastbourne Festival of Performing Arts. I enjoyed it immensely and I felt extremely proud to be selected to represent my dance school. I loved wearing the scarlet costume and scarlet wig. There is another competition that I have been chosen for, it is the International Composers Festival, at the De La Warr Pavilion in May and it is a fifty piece orchestra.
My dreams for the future are that I would like to be a ballet dancer, write some books, learn languages. I would like to have two or three children and name them Rosebud, Celeste and Buddy. I want to live near the sea but walk around the city at nighttime. I want to remain near my mother and father. I'd like to go to lots of different countries, swim in different seas, run across deserts.
I have wrote a poem about the spring as a present to Margaret, Sheila and Peter and I am including it in this last entry. Thank you for reading my Plague Journal entries, I shall miss writing for it, I have enjoyed it so much.
The Return of Persephone by Marli Rose Macrae
The little fern waves
The sweet rose bobs
The daffodils shine smiles
As the bees' noise throbs
A topaz sunshine carriage pulls up
And the Dandelion Queen steps out
She's in a jeweled gown, like a golden churning sea
She's come to christen spring
As beautiful as can be
"Winter's almost gone, how utterly sublime!" her voice like bells cried
And they drunk pure tree sap
It was time for them to dine!
Jean, Melbourne Australia
Back in Melbourne for 3 and a half weeks and the jetlag fog is finally starting to lift. The return trip is often a killer for some reason. The Age reported that this was the first flight to bring tourists into Victoria and we were met, after going through customs and out through the doors, with a brass band and film crews catching the moment. Surreal! Melbourne does seem different – the city is bustling, the cafes are bursting, traffic is intense. This is Design Week – with events all over town, lectures, and even temporary structures.
After being away for two months and living with other people, the biggest adjustment was settling back into the flat – which was spooked by those many months of isolation and lockdown – and living by myself. The remedy of course was to see friends (so much easier now) and re-make my relationship with the flat. There seemed to be lots of things that needed attention – did I really not notice them before? – like tiles popping off the bathroom wall and alarming cracks in the plaster. Late at night, I worry about the cracks – all signs the ground is subsiding – and wonder if the building will stand. In the morning, I get a grip and remember that cracking happens periodically, is happening all over Hawthorn and all over Hawthorn, people are re-plastering and painting their houses. I made lots of lists and lots of phone calls to line up tradesmen, or even just one tradesman. They have commitments lined up for months so this is so far a work in progress.
Adding to the feeling that the ground has shifted since I left is that the news – before so focussed on the virus – is now concentrated on the terrible floods in NSW and Queensland with their impact on whole communities, and as now seems so predictable here, the tardy and shaky government response to the disaster, and on Putin’s invasion of Ukraine with its tragic consequences. My siblings and I follow the news and try to pin down where exactly our grandparents’ villages were 100+ years ago. My Russian teacher tells me she and her family are trying to help Ukrainian refugees who are making their way here. Her comment: “it looks like we need this to wake up, collectively and individually.”
I’ll borrow Nadia’s words to thank Margaret and Sheila for allowing all of us to participate, collectively and individually, in the Journal project. Being able to share something of our lives and experiences has made the world feel warmer, richer and more solid. It’s been a gift.
John Mole, St Albans
A WEATHER REPORT
on the closure of Plague20Journal
High winds anticipate
the caution thrown at them
as in their face
restrictions are relaxed.
arrives to fluster us
and high anxiety
invades the news
a mitigating gust
is the still small voice
of hopeful caution
as it promises that maybe
there can be an easing
or at least an intermission
when the wind dies down.
Chris Gates, Norfolk UK
So, with about a month to go to our ‘birthday’ and final postings, I thought I’d keep a Journal within a Journal and pen a word or two as time passes… it’ll inevitably be Ukranian.
Thursday 24th Feb. It seems particularly relevant that as we emerge from the deep shadow of Covid in its various forms which for two years had seemed the worst threat imaginable, another worse threat crops up: Russia has embarked on the physical invasion of Ukraine after weeks of positioning and posturing. Quite how Putin can be stopped appears to be beyond the rest of the World, but as the days pass, perhaps something can be formulated as Plan A. The British Govt finds itself compromised: MP and Oligarchian intertwining is emerging, already known to include Saint Theresa May who with several female Cabinet members schmoozed £130,000 from one source alone over a ‘lavish’ dinner.
Sunday 27th. Things have moved on, though not as quickly as Putin might have liked as local resistance and Russian inadequacy seem to be hobbling his ambition. The West impose some sanctions as deterrent: exclusion from ’Swift’, the international money transfer protocol, no private jets into UK, exclusion from European Song Contest and Football tournaments. That’ll show him.
Actually, it probably won’t. Active, punitive, mainly financial sanctions against the Russian State, Putin himself and hundreds of named individuals have been in place through the EU since 2014 with no visible effect at all.
Germany, normally low profile due to their military track record, go full-on unilateral and send Ukraine arms.
A bit of a political curved ball: in anticipation of thwarts to come, Putin warns Finland and Sweden not to consider joining Nato, suggesting he has grander ambition, Westwards.
We see a Russian tank in the otherwise deserted streets of Kyiv lurch with chilling deliberation across and into the path of a lone car driving the other way, then over it. The driver survived, but as an act of mindless, gratuitous brutality it kind of symbolises the whole shoddy business.
Monday 28th Feb. We see thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands brave Russians crowding Russian streets protesting against their Governments aggression.
An estimated half a million Ukrainians have left, 240,000 women and children via the Polish borders, without their menfolk - who are obliged to remain and fight.
We have a sanctions effect despite my gloomy prediction - though whether on Putin himself is not disclosed: the rouble has collapsed by 29%, there’s a dash for cash and domestic interest rates have doubled to 20%.
Wednesday 2nd March. Civilian casualties approach 2000. Rather counter-intuitively, Russian casualties are reported at 6000. Flown refugees now near 900,000. Any pretence of discriminate targeting is abandoned. A huge column of Russian armour advancing from the North is now within 14 km of Kyiv. Whether their brief is to reduce the city to rubble or preserve as much infrastructure as poss is unknown.
Saturday 5th March. Putin announces two ‘safe’ corridors for those wishing to flee Mariupol and Volnovakha, but no sooner has the flow started, the cities and the refugees come under fire.
Monday 7th March. Much criticism of UK’s lukewarm participation in refugee-homing, with just 50 visas issued so far. Despite sending hapless Ministers out to do the rounds defending this on early radio and tv, by 9am news leaks of expansion of visa processing. This rapid development of policy is thought to be a direct response to the heavily criticised story of 150 that flew into France and carried on down to Calais only to be told they’d have to go back to Consular facilities in Paris to be ‘processed’. Every time a rep settled down in front of a microphone, the question was “what about the 150?” Total numbers fled now reported to be 1,500,000.
A huge irony from a tiny incident, a touch of levity: in Dublin, at the Russian Embassy, a truck pulls the gates from their hinges. The written howl of protest from within contains the lines “The incident is the cause of great concern, We believe no people of sound mind could support such senseless and barbaric actions.” Quite.
Wednesday 9th March. McDonalds, Starbucks, L’Oreal, Coca-Cola close Russian outlets as an extension of the Isolation Offensive. Another half a million escape Ukraine, partly, it has to be said, due to brief ceasefires. Ukraine has been asking around for the loan of Mig fighter jets to boost its defence capacity, but none save Poland have rallied to the call. Their offer was to lend their Migs to the USA and thereby attempt to distance themselves from ultimate use. However sabre-rattling Biden has been so far, the idea of being the source of massive Ukrainian aggressive rearmament is worrisome and so is rejected. Which is a bit odd since they’re reported to have already supplied 17,000 anti-tank and 2000 anti-aircraft missiles which you would have thought already got up Russian noses sufficiently far to tickle them.
Monday 14th March. Much destruction and continued flight - an estimated 3.5mill now, plus a trickle from Russia too. We’re to be offered £350pm to host a Ukranian family for 6 months but only those in metropolitan areas need apply. Makes some sense: better assimilation etc, but as host you need to have a ‘lodger’ in mind, so now Agencies are being formed to draw hosts and guests together.
We’re both down with the Covid. Was a big scary thing when we started this Journal Journey together two years ago. Now just a deeply inconvenient flu - but today is day 8 of isolation and feebleness. Can stop just as soon as it likes.
Tuesday 15th March. Overnight an almost unimaginably brave TV news Producer on ‘official’ Russian news channel stands behind the presenter with a placard denouncing officialdom. (Pictured below)
This morning, test #9 did not show positive.
Saturday 19th March. I continue to show negative - 4 days now - Sheila still positive and delerious tho’ gamely at her Mac, putting this edition of The Journal together.
Massive destruction now reported from all over Ukraine, desperate damage too to the population with no food, water, services. Hundreds, possibly thousands, trapped with little hope of becoming a refugee. Death total unknown. Putin evidently only concerned with territory, not useful or satisfying infrastructure. Either that or he’ll withdraw leaving Ukrainians with huge rebuilding and social problems to keep them occupied. Ukrainian President Velenskyy still in place, still to be seen on the streets, still lauded world wide. (Pictured below)
Here, the first of those able to navigate our conditions of entry arrive to share homes or take holiday cottages. 150,000 homeowners have expressed an interest to help.
I suppose the final word should go to our old Nemisis: Covid. We came in fearing a pandemic and we got one. We spent two years avoiding it in it’s worst manifestations, no hospitalisation, no close deaths. Now we have to live with ‘variations’, a succession of maybe milder flu-like viruses which we may or may not get vaccinated against.
Whatever, we took all precaution, didn’t lower our guard and finally copped for a dose. It would be easy to shrug the shoulders and say “that’s life”… except that the latest figures show half a million tested positive in the past week, 12,000 were admitted to hospital, 750 died. Total estimated UK Covid deaths to date range from 164,000 to 209,000.
Stay safe, lovely Journalists.
View from a balcony
Constance, Southern France
I have only contributed twice to this journal. I enjoy writing but have not taken the time to do so. So for a last contribution, I thought I have no excuse and take the time and energy to do so.
Life has changed so much since March 2020, both because of Covid and non-Covid related events. This virus is so much part of daily life, it is strange to remember pre-plague times when looking at photos and videos of the world 'before'. I remember things as either begin pre-pandemic or after the beginning of the plague. There have been other chapters of my life since, so I have now other landmarks to remember the time of memories. The difference is pre- and post-pandemic is such a universal 'time landmark' that it has become a point of time that everyone understands. Maybe others have reflected on this in this plague journal and I am reflecting on something that has already been reflected on.
I have been lucky to not loose anyone I know to it and of those I know who have caught it, none of them have needed to be hospitalised. In this context, I hope not to shock people by saying that I have fond memories of the first lockdown. I suddenly had time to do my 'inside hobbies' (sewing and other crafts, reading, coocking). I felt grounded, not rushed by needing to be anywhere, to feel that I had to go to this party, not needing to socialize and no one asking any questions, no justification. No hello kisses either (3 smacks on the cheek, I do live in Southern France where it used to be almost mandatory when arriving at a social occasion). I have also been lucky to keep my job, to be seen as an essential worker (just enough socializing for me there) and to be finantially and emotionaly stable in this difficult time for most.
I wonder how people will comment about these years and the decisions which were made when this becomes part of History books. Just like my sudden interest in previous plagues that I engulfed myself in as lockdown started while enjoying my 'inside hobbies' (which, as stated previously, did not include much writing).
Annabel, A village in North Norfolk
16th March 2022
We are watching a genocide take place in front of our eyes. Putin’s Russia has attacked and is levelling Ukraine, obliterating it and it’s peoples, firing missiles and bombs into residential and suburban areas and city centres, targeting blocks of residential flats and many hospitals. Cities are besieged and residents are cut off from food, water, electricity and medicine. Millions of people, mainly woman and children have left and are now refugees being welcomed magnificently by all the neighbouring countries, particularly Poland and spreading out to Spain and Berlin and even here eventually when the home office gets its act together and lessens the red tape. Mothers and children wrapped up in hats and gloves wheeling suitcases, people carrying cats and dogs and babies, all their possessions in one case or a couple of bags if that. The men are staying to defend their land. Bodies are lying in the streets and are being eaten by the abandoned dogs. Mass graves have been dug. In a hospital in Mariupol which is under siege the bodies are just being laid out on a floor where once food would have been.
Putin thought his tanks could drive in in a couple of days and put in a puppet government but that didn’t work. Plan B is to destroy everything, level it and bomb it out of existence. He says all is going to plan.
There is a basement full of surrogate babies waiting for their unmet families to come and collect them. Hospitals have been blown up and more babies have been put on make-shift beds on the floor huddled together. Babies have been born in underground stations and bomb shelters and in corridors away from windows. Hundreds of babies have been born in the 3 weeks of Russia’s inhumane onslaught of Ukraine.
The Ukrainians are valiantly fighting back. Molotoff cocktail are prepared by men and woman who a couple of weeks before were lawyers or beauticians. In Kiev, Kalasnikovs have been handed out, tank traps built. Spikes for the roads to puncture tyres.
President Volodymyr Zelensky is inspirational and brave and leading his troops of regular soldiers and the new rag tag mixture making up the territorial defence. Russia is not doing very well and have lost so many tanks which have sunk in the boggy mud or been blown up with British and Americana stingers and anti tank missiles. There have been many thousands of Russian deaths, 4 Generals and young conscripts among them. 500 according to Putin who has denied war is going on or that civilians have been targeted. He calls it a Special Military Operation. Military experts keep going on the telly telling of his disastrous military planning and logistical failures. Has he not read War and Peace? He has been reading ancients maps though.
It is all terribly sad and deeply depressing. Who knows how it will end. There are peace talks but who could believe Putin anyway. He is out for total destruction.
There was a bit of good news today as Nazanin Zachary-Ratcliffe is winging her way back to Britain at this very moment on a jet from Iran via Oman along with Anoosheh Ashoori another Iranian prisoner. She had been imprisoned for 6 years and has been released on the payment of a debt of nearly 400 million pounds owed to Iran for tanks for 40 years by the British government. Her MP who has been helping her is called Tulip.
Boris is in Saudi chatting up Mohammed bin Salman now we’ve fallen out with Putin. 81 people were put to death there on Sunday.
Biden has accused Putin of war crimes today. The Russians are outraged. A theatre in Mariupol was attacked this afternoon. Completely blown up and destroyed. It was being used as a refuge for at least 1000 people. They haven’t been able to get in there yet to see the horror that awaits. (Some people have been found)
Oh to be back to the news of whether Boris had a party or Dom’s visits to Barnard castle .
Covid is on the up again. All precautions have ended.
01. 07 am 17th Feb
Nazanin's plane has landed. She must be so relieved she’s on British soil. Richard her husband and daughter Gabriella are waiting for her at Brize Norton.
It’s an enormous plane.
She’s back with her family. Such a relief.
Putin is now such an archetypal Bond villain spouting lies to his people in a colourful branded sports stadium in Moscow wearing a cream polo neck. The people have the Russian flag painted on their faces and are waving flags. It has a real feel of Nazi Germany He’s got nukes on his mind. The man is nuts. The power of lies from him is incredible. The Russians have no idea at all what is going on.
My heart goes out to the brave people of Ukraine. 3.2 million people have fled. The people who remain are traumatised and being massacred.
There have been huge acts of kindness, bravery and generosity though. Next week Ukranian refugees will arrive to live with families here in the UK.
On a lighter note, all is fine. Spring is springing and the daffodils are coming out in the garden. There are 3 new very demanding chickens, Earnie is still bouncing around and Whitty is still swearing at me for dinner. I’m still bossing Roger about and my mum is well and walking 10000 steps a day!
I’m painting some murals at the moment which is fun.
The shop is quiet and I was trying to come out of all my covid precautions but today the numbers are so high I shall carry on like before. Put your mask on sanitise your hands.
I don’t think any one will buy anything ever again as the electricity bills have doubled and petrol and diesel is incredibly expensive. It now costs nearly £1000 to fill up the tank with heating oil. I’ve turned my heating off mostly and turned the Aga down. I am shouting at myself to turn the lights off.
I filled my car up with diesel today. It was £1.75 a litre.
Roger came round this morning with a new and very snazzy wheel barrow. Shiny black and red!
This is the last diary entry so I want to say the biggest thank you to Margaret and Sheila for all their hard work and encouragement over the last 2 years. It was a marvellous thing they did and a very companionable thing to be part of during the first weird days of the lock down. Sorry to every one who I bored the pants off as really nothing ever happened but that seems like anther country now.
My love to you all
Over and out.
James Oglethorpe, Virginia
Bent by snow
curling from earth
fronds spring to grow
moment of awakening
green silk ripping rippling
released arrows of love
no gentle feather doves
no gentle feather doves
Red the swollen motion
white waves blue ocean
yellow the blowing sand
remains of a drowned land
roots of crazy leaning trees
tangled by ocean breeze
tangled by ocean breeze
We were together from the start
impossible to replace a spirit
possible to repair her heart
Polar moment of inertia twists
twirling, swirling in our kisses
wrapped around so tight
your whisper dead of night
love torques the tension
truths too secret to mention
truths too secret to mention
We were together from the start
impossible to replace a spirit
possible to repair my heart
Under the weight of need
thoughts in books yet to read
past relationships like novels
in a store of shrouded fossils
love into which I blundered
riches nearly squandered
riches nearly squandered
There it rests for now
a cowering sacred cow
it’s not all love cards
more like glass in shards
past slashed into slivers
bleeding away into precious rivers
bleeding away into precious rivers
We were together from the start
impossible to replace spirits
possible to repair our hearts
View from a town formerly known as crazy
Chris Dell, Washington, D.C.
Your Intrepid Reporter notes in this final report how life is a series of circles. Two years ago, at the outset of our eponymous Plague, he returned to Crazy Town from Lisbon on 15 March. Wash, rinse, repeat this 15 March. But whereas two years ago Y.I.R. joined millions of others in huddling behind the closed doors and isolation of home on Flat Rat Alley, with no idea of where the threat lurked, this time he flung (flinged? flang?) caution to the winds, having Mrs. Intrepid meet him train-side and take him immediately to dinner with colleagues at the start of a conference on energy. Instead of isolating, hundreds, maybe even thousands, of participants gathered in Crazy Town from four continents to spend three days worrying over "Cost Reflective Tariffs" and "Effectively Deploying Finance Post COP26." Riveting stuff. Vaccine statuses and mask wearing were dutifully enforced at the outset, but within hours, all had been flung aside in an orgy of long-repressed joy at the ability to once again noodle together over "Strengthening Project Preparation to Increase Project Bankability." Superspreader event be damned. This was serous bidnez.
Of course, one can understand how fear of a mere virus might shrink to vanishingly small levels in the face of a looming new crisis. Just as HIV replaced herpes as the source of our sexual anxieties in the '80's, so now nuclear holocaust has supplanted COVID 19 as the little worry that keeps us awake in the night. And it's ironic, in ways both large and small, that Vlad the Imperialer has succeeded where Dear Leader tried mightily but failed. Imagine the barely-if-at-all- suppressed Rage which must rock the hallowed walls of Mar-a-Largo: in three short weeks Vlad got to deploy his tanks for real, not merely parade them through the streets of Crazy Town; he persuaded the Germans to double their defense spending and the EU to adopt a real security policy; drove up the price of oil to a point to gladden the heart of even the most ardent anti-green would-be billionaire; and, best of all, taught those pesky Ukrainians a lesson or two about doing corrupt deals with the wastrel son of He Who Shall Not Be Named. Like any true prophet, Dear Leader foretold all but, alas and alack, met no honor in His own land.
Worse still, all but the most Faithful of The Faithful have turned their backs on Dear Leader's ringing endorsement of Vlad's "genius" and "savvy." Were it not for good ole' Tuck Carlson, Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene, there'd be no one at all left to praise His Vision. Oh, the bitter gall - Dear Leader prostrates Himself at the feet of Vlad in Helsinki only to be rewarded by treachery most foul. [Ed. Note: Y.I.R. indulged himself in both "Shakespeare in Love" and Kenneth Branagh's "Hamlet" during his recent plane ride, so we must make allowances.] Vlad invades Ukraine and who benefits? Why none other than He Who Shall Not Be Named himself. Rallying the world, reassuring Allies, getting to play the role of Wartime Leader and making us forget his bungling in Kabul a few short months ago. And that Zelensky guy? Why Dear Leader wouldn't have even had him on His TV show for love or money a year ago, and now he's the biggest star on the world's stage. Adding insult to injury, Vlad the Imperialer has even stolen Dear Leader's signature political innovation, staging and starring in his own MRGA rally last Friday - complete with red, white and blue bunting and bussed in loads of Faithful. Oh how Dear Leader must now bitterly regret not patenting the concept and cashing in when there was still time.
And so, Dear Reader, the circle is complete and we file our last despatch from Crazy Town. Earlier in his career, as a mere stripling youth, Y.I.R. studied nuclear deterrence, escalation domination, the balance of terror, and other topics long since relegated to the back of our collective mental closet. How delicious, albeit appalling, that all should once again be made relevant at this late date. Perhaps it is this stern youthful training that has permitted him to turn reportorial eye towards current events with a certain detachment and sang froid, alien to those who came of age after The End of History. It is his sincere hope that in the course of his intrepid reporting he has shed a ray or two of light upon the mysterious ways of Crazy Town for you, his Dear Readers. Y.I.R. wishes to express his thanks to the Dear Eds for their support and indulgence of his oft belated reportage. We close with the wisdom of the immortal Jimmy Buffett which has sustained us lo' these many years: if we weren't all Crazy, we just would go insane.