Another gorgeous sunny day, which found me once again in a pub garden, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes.
But this time, while sitting at a table, I managed to do myself an injury. I think it must be the first time I’ve ever done myself an injury while sat at a table with a beer and a cigarette. Perhaps there’s something in all those health warnings after all?
The injury was in fact the aggravation of a very old injury. Fifty years ago, while being pursued in the course of some game, I hurled myself out of a school window, and fell 10 feet in darkness, badly twisting my right knee. It never really fully recovered. I think there must a missing cruciate ligament in it, or something. And ever since, I have to take care to not put the knee out of joint. But it periodically happens, and I limp around until it clunks back into place. And today it happened again, sitting at a wooden table in a pub garden, and I’ve no idea how. But with luck, it’ll be back in working order in a day or two.
This has fortunately coincided with getting my bi-annual dose of television, so I’ve spent much of the evening sat watching the box with my leg up on a small table.
And it’s been rather interesting. I haven’t seen any antismoking messages at all. But I’ve seen quite a lot of smoking, in news clips and documentaries. And I couldn’t help but think that the smoking was a bit overdone in the documentaries, with the complete process of inhaling and exhaling lovingly recorded, as if to say, “Look kids, this is how it’s done.”
The other people smoking were Russian (or ethnic Russian) soldiers who had just captured some place in Ukraine. Perhaps it was supposed to show that they were The Bad Guys. What it actually showed the kids was that super-fit soldiers smoke cigarettes on active service without apparent ill-effect, and also without being court-martialed and shot.
I had expected the coverage of the Ukrainian crisis (which is really horribly serious right now) to be accompanied by jingoistic anti-Russian propaganda. But there was none of that at all. Instead, the coverage seemed scrupulously neutral, with Ukrainians and Russians being allowed to disagree with each other on air, while the UK news anchors sat on the fence. The only person who pinned all the blame firmly on Russia was Foreign Secretary William Hague. But after he’d said his bit, it was promptly openly questioned how much he really knew about what was going on.
I get the impression that all concerned – Europe, America, and perhaps even Ukraine and Russia – are trying to downplay and defuse the situation. But unfortunately the situation is now so far gone it’s rather hard to see how it can possibly be defused. Because if civil war has quite broken out today, it may very well have broken out by this time tomorrow.