Readers Rants

Hard times, tough choices and a Russian time machine.

Hard times

I’m old, about to get my pension, delayed by six years because I was born in 1956, my pension is enough to buy wine and drugs, I’m worried about my old age, it’s horrible to see the poverty in my neighbourhood, this is more than a crisis, this entire society is going down…we’re governed by the richest and they don’t care. I’m middle class, or I was once, we’ve all gone down a notch while the rich haven’t even noticed…they’re pushing everone to the brink because they’re heartless and they don’t even care…this country and so many others in this world are just finished. My friend called because her friend in Turkey has just been jailed for years along with many others for taking part in a protest…this will happen soon in the UK…the House of Lords has given up trying to fight this government and we the people are drowning in a worsening scenario, and I’m not living on paycheck to paycheck but my old age is going to be very hard, and I’m one of the better-off.

Ruth N

Tough choices

The Government wants workers to return to the office but yet they do nothing to incentivise them to do so.
Instead rail fares have been increased to the highest levels ever and the service has deteriorated dramatically with fewer trains running and often with a smaller number of carriages.So the choice is simple: stay at home and pay no commute costs or go to the office and pay for the priviledge!What would you do?

Jeffrey Woodcock

Russian Time Machine

If we parked a time machine in Moscow we’d have to go a long way back to find a generation that hadn’t lived through a humiliating defeat or at best a Pyrrhic victory against western powers – disintegration of the USSR 1990, WW2 1940-45, WW1 and civil war 1914-22, Japan 1904, Crimea 1853-56, Napoleon 1812, Seven Years War with Prussia 1756-63, Great Northern War with Sweden, 1700-21, war with Poland 1660s. Not mentioning numerous others, from the Finnish Winter War of 1940 through to frontier spats with China. For Russians, WW2 was both the same and unique – another “disastrous victory” won at great cost, but also on the side of the West. After 1945, Russia could have joined NATO. All Korea could have been a socialist democracy, as could the eastern European nations. Instead of a united Europe from Cork to Khabarovsk we swiftly bulwarked our esrtwhile enemies, and then worked on splitting China from our 1940s ally-turned-enemy.  On the plus side we got cheap goods for a generation. This enabled us to pull off the remarkable economic trick of low interest rates with low inflation, leading to subdued wage-price rises but a massive asset price boom. Nice for the rich. Much better than the democratic communitarian Eurasia the West have faced if it hadn’t been so assiduous at reversing its friend-enemy international relations within a few months of May 1945.

Dr Hilary J Shaw,
De Montfort University,

The Bully of Saint Petersburg

This barren little dictator,
this bully untouched with courage
this visage vacant of any and all kindnesses
holds a vision of catastrophic threat and pestilence
with eyes digging deep evil into a terrified world.

His snarling planes pierce the tough membrane of resistance
the blade of Cicero’s sword cuts swathes through the
mandala rocks in this antique land
the explosions of man being
permanently separated from their names
heard through mothers’ ululating with bodies laid out.

Vapid solutions from politicians upset the calm elegance of
a world yet to learn that anger doesn’t lay within
a world yet to learn that struggle can’t be resolved with a tweet
a world yet to learn that courage can’t be found in a post
a world yet to learn that kindness can be seen but not found online
a world yet to learn that wisdom can only be within
and learned from without.

A chain reaction of despair now erupts from the mud of war
unstoppable as a virus infecting all who see this barbarian at hell’s gate
complacency is ripped apart
and now replaced by refugees residing
with the kindness and generosity borne only out of a long memory
paying no regard to the interference only bureaucrats can muster
this unconditional generosity
is not a gift but a given.

Wars are not won only in the theatre of words
that arise from the terror borne of madness
they will not foil the dictator’s obsession
they will not comfort the oppressed
they will not repair the irreparable
without action
dreams are broken forever
leaving only one question
have we had enough?

Paul O’Donnell


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