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All a bit of a mess

A fool thinks himself to be wise,
But a wise man knows himself to be a fool

As they (probably don’t) say; when one door closes, another will open and smack you straight in the face. Just when we think we have got ourselves back to, if not normality, then something that bears a passing resemblance to it, the world goes crazier.

The bulk of the coronavirus restrictions are due to be lifted this week. The requirement for 5- or 10-days’ isolation following a positive Covid result will go as a legal duty (in terms of general politeness and thought for your fellow humans, it’s probably a different matter); the legal requirement to wear a mask in Tesco’s has already mutated into ‘advisory’. Indeed, I was definitely in the minority the other day in my fetching leopard=print face-covering as I picked over the cabbages myopically; the glasses are either completely steamed up or off, both of which have made for some interesting shopping basket errors over the past few months.

So, we’re all Living with Covid, we’ve come to terms with a strange hybrid way of working, we’ve realised that there’s nothing like being n full face-to-face contact with someone to really build that business relationship, but that there are some things that can just as easily be done with a phone call or a video call, instead of negotiating the Dartford Crossing or those roadworks on the M4 that STILL haven’t finished.

Back to normal. And then – Ukraine. I don’t pretend to understand the ins and outs of what’s bene going on, although defence Secretary Ben Wallace wrote this https://www.gov.uk/government/news/an-article-by-the-defence-secretary-on-the-situation-in-ukraine which is great and goes a long way to unravelling the complicated situation. Putin is squaring up to the West and clearly doesn’t want Ukraine to join NATO because then it’ll be on his doorstep. Much like Kennedy felt about the Russian missiles in Cuba in October 1962, I assume. I suspect Putin also feels that Ukraine should be part of his empire, too. When Russia invaded Afghanistan in December 1979 – or ‘intervened in the Afghan civil war’, depending on your reading of history – it was to almost unilateral worldwide condemnation. I’m not sure that sanctioning a few hundred Russian Oligarchs and business men, which seems to be the sum total of the UK’s response thus far, is really going to hit Putin where it hurts. The cancelling of that gas pipeline between Russia and Germany will sting him a bit more, though. Unfortunately, it will also hurt the rest of us. Gas prices had only just started to stabilise but their likely to star going back up unless something can be sorted out.

The 1980 Moscow Olympic games were boycotted by a number of countries and athletes in response to the 1979 invasion. There are now calls for 2022 Champions League Final, due to be staged in St Petersburg, to be moved. I think it has to be. And it’s no good trying to say that sport and politics shouldn’t mix. That might have been true in 1980, but sport is big, global business now and big, global business comes with political baggage.

Like it or not, what happens globally, affects us on a national and local level. Just look at the impact of shipping costs on prices to and at merchants. Gas price rises affect heavy industry which has to pass those costs down the supply chain. Life it seems, isn’t getting easier, it’s just getting…different.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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