Ukraine? Look for the helpers.

**Oh dear – I wrote this on Monday. Since then, things in Ukraine have only got much, much worse. But more people and agencies are helping. Silver linings – I’m still looking for them.

How has your week been? If it’s anything like mine you’ll have worked a lot, exercised a little, and caught up with friends and family. But everything you’ll have done will likely have been overlaid with unease, sadness, and worry.

The situation in Ukraine is appalling and inescapable. If, by the time you are reading this, Putin has come to his senses, ordered the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine, and reported himself to the International Criminal Court for war crimes, then we can relax. We can get back to worrying about Covid, climate change, and how hospitality businesses across the north are going to find enough staff for the coming tourist season.

But if, as I suspect, the war has escalated further, it’s difficult to know how to feel useful, and difficult not to become overwhelmed with feelings of helplessness, fear, and compassion. Is it enough to show solidarity with the people of Ukraine by adding a blue and yellow flag to your Facebook profile?

The world is holding its breath while people die

A dangerous, despotic, megalomaniac leader is exerting military strength over a neighbouring territory, killing and injuring hundreds, and displacing hundreds of thousands more. Families are being ripped apart as women and children flee to safety while martial law requires able-bodied men to aid with resistance. Fear is extending beyond Ukraine with threats from Putin to deploy his nuclear arsenal.

And yet, the world seems to be holding its collective breath, treading water while people die.

Yes, NATO is sending arms to Ukraine, and member countries are reinforcing their troops in Eastern Europe. But beyond strong words of condemnation of the Russian President’s aggression, there’s little practical support for the oppressed nation.

Ukraine, despite best efforts since 2008, is not a member of NATO. And if NATO aren’t acting decisively (forgive me if things have changed – I wrote this on Monday) what can we do?

Look for the Helpers

When my kids were little and became upset – as we all do – by atrocities and natural disasters across the world, we encouraged them to look for the helpers. For every tsunami or earthquake there would be a following army of humanitarian workers, people offering everything from first aid and clothing, food and water, to those trying to reunite families, provide shelter, and support the bereaved in their grief.

With every war, conflict, or act of terrorism the world over, the same thing follows.

Yes, horrendous things happen, and terrible people exist, but into the darkness come bright beacons of light, in the form of charities and aid workers.

So many people are doing their bit to help

Even from thousands of miles away, we can help, by supporting the helpers. Donate, if you can. Closer to home, Inverness Cathedral are collecting used or unwanted baby boxes to deliver to refugee camps in Poland; they’re also selling cakes and biscuits to fund the Ukrainian Red Cross. Other local charities and groups are offering similar.

Putin can’t be allowed to succeed; the international community mustn’t let that happen. But as individuals, those of us with the necessary resources can do more than just worry.

Clampdown on audience behaviour is too close to home

You may have caught the story in the national press about a theatre director in Edinburgh speaking out about the tiny minority of theatre goers who spoil it for everyone.

Edinburgh Playhouse is clamping down on antisocial audience behaviour, asking those who sing louder than the performers on stage to pipe down, and those who threaten or abuse the staff not to return. (Singing during concerts is still encouraged – no-one should or could watch The Proclaimers in silence.)

This theatre director is fairly close to home; in fact, he’s part of the family. I’m proud of his stance on behalf of audience members who prefer to be swept up by the magic of theatre, rather than in the drama of their neighbour’s Twitter feed.

But his stance on audience participation doesn’t half put a damper on car journeys. Apparently, I’m not as good a singer as Jon Bon Jovi. That’s me told.

Heroes of the road. Cheers, Les!

My attitude towards cleaning cars has always been ‘once a year if it needs it, less during a pandemic’ so heavens only know what possessed me to get out the hoover and power washer on Sunday afternoon. A couple of hours later, the car was spotless. I stepped back, smug about my efforts.

Then I put the key in the ignition – nothing. Whether I dislodged a loose wire or removed that one piece of dirt that was vital to maintaining an electrical circuit, I may never know.

The pursuit of cleanliness was a potentially costly and time-consuming mistake, but thanks to the fabulous service and battery-recharging service from Les MacLaren Garage Services in Inverness, I was back on the road in 24 hours.

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. Les and his son Gary happen to wear overalls.

Thanks for reading. 
Please share this with someone else who you think might enjoy it, and encourage them to sign up.
It’s free and easy, with no ads of spam, I promise :)