April 2022. Present Perspectives.


From the distant climes of Tuscany, the disasters of Covid and Ukraine have apparently taken on a quite different hue from those apparently experienced in the United Kingdom. Admittedly, this is from the seedy aspects of Fleet Street who seem to have put the worst possible spin on the worst possible scenario - as though it wasn’t bad enough!

The dreadful spectacle hasn’t been forgotten, of course, as the severe economic effects are beginning to take on a serious aspect in Italy’s industrial sector, forcing Draghi to wake up with the realisation that he needs to ‘visit Ukraine’ - though no one seems to actually know why, as the prospect of doing any business in that war torn place cannot be guaranteed. Possibly it represents nothing more than a little of the new-fangled virtue signalling on his part. Certainly, there is a crisis in the Italian energy sector with a new worry that the hydroelectric industry is faltering due to lack of water in its reservoirs - over 40% reduction in power supply from that sector - something the UK also needs to worry about as it provides 5% of renewable energy. Boris will not be pleased if it runs dry! No wonder then that Italy is not over critical of Russia when it supplies the country with 45% of its gas - a serious problem, if not quite on the scale of Germany who have fatuously put all their eggs in one basket! On the other hand, when it comes to paying the bill in Roubles, Draghi, as a notorious bagman, has plenty of experience in the “now you see it, now you don’t” financial business, and should be able to dazzle old Ivan with a sleight of hand.  Of course, Tuscany has its famous geothermal power station at Larderello, supplying 700MW, but at 7% of its total needs it doesn’t mean you can get rid of the candles just yet. Meanwhile, President Mattarella does his best to drum up support for Ukraine, at the peoples lack of interest, which is not from a lack of motive, but from a lack of comprehension. The geo political motives of all the players cannot be perceived by their lack of relevance.  Meanwhile, Mattarella mutters on about a ‘Green Policy’ for a nation whose energy possibilities are seriously hampered by the seismic nature of the country. As nuclear power is the only real sustainable answer, they are always going to be saddled with an energy problem! 

Indeed, life rumbles on for the moment seemingly untroubled by these predicaments when the dearth of tourists over Easter is of some moment to the near empty coffee bars, and seen as the harbinger of an even more quiescent summer. War may be very far away, and the best possibility of handling Covid on your doorstep seems to be to ignore it! Seemingly, in expectation of normality, the locals still pass in the street heavily masked, just in case a hoard of rubbernecks disturb their tranquillity proffering sample viruses to all and sundry. This lack of foreign bodies – the upright noisy kind - may explain why the food shops seem full to bursting with culinary goodies and bargains galore. Italy never followed the EU mandate of hiding the place of origin on the package, with Coop Tuscany taking it even further by adding its very own logo of three cypress trees, just to make sure there’s no mistake.  It’s a big region, and if pushed it could probably  survive on its own products with only a little trouble as it has a source of its own wheat, meat, fish, wine and vegetables. Some fruit they may have to get from next door. And if you have a wood burning stufa, you could even survive without Russian gas! On the other hand, there aren’t so many horses as there were, and with the price of petrol creeping ever upward, the movement of people has to be somewhat curtailed – though you wouldn’t know that just yet.

 Of course, nothing is ever that simple, but summer is coming and the big expense of keeping yourself warm can be temporarily forgotten as you stoke up the barbecue instead. Some may have company. In line with most other European states, Italy has opened its doors to refugees, setting the limit at 175,000. At the time of writing, it seems 24,000 have been given residency permits to stay for twelve months. This fits in with the other European Mediterranean nations, including France, which already has a large number of Ukrainian residents. At least we know these genuine refugees didn’t come in rubber dinghies!

 But the refugees may not stop coming as long as the UK and the US keep racking up the vitriolic statements, escalating the potential duration of the ever-increasing devastation of cities and people by supplying Ukraine with more powerful weapons in a war that Ukraine cannot win as long as Mr Putin remains in power. The poor country cannot last for ever and may, with NATO’s help, emerge as nothing more than a heap of rubble.  Italy, at least, has avoided playing hard ball and gone little further than offering 3400 troops to support NATO, if needed!

 Those bellicose voices that casually talk of nuclear options as a form of defence are dangerously waffling in the wind. Indeed, enough puff to satisfy Boris’s green agenda which is wind enough to solve any fantasy. He seems a reasonably intelligent fellow, so how he cannot see that climate cannot be judged on hundreds of years, but only on thousands of years, is very odd. As Obama’s Undersecretary for Science, Doctor S.E. Koonin said, “Institutions are frequently concerned in making the science fit the narrative, rather than with ensuring the narrative fits the science.” That seems to be Boris’s problem. He has been blindsided by the Scientists’ sleight of hand over Climate Change, and once again by the Scientists’ over Covid. Let us hope we all live to see through his new military adviser’s short sightedness!