Wednesday, 23rd March

1. Here’s the first in a series of four podcasts on the final days of the Soviet Union and Putin era Russia from The Rest is History team of Dominic Sandbrook and Tom Holland

Their avowed intention is to ‘interrogate the past’ and ‘de-tangle the present’. “They question the nature of Greatness, why the West no longer has civil wars and whether Richard Nixon was more like Caligula or Claudius. They’re distilling the entirety of human history, or, as much as they can fit into about fifty minutes.”

Full, rich archive of all 166 episodes to date here

2. First of two pieces to do with the London Underground today: Children’s Lives in Second World War Britain, a photo archive of the experience of children forced to interact with the adult realities of the Second World War

3. My grandmother used to talk about her lunch ‘repeating’ on her. Mine has been repeating on me today, evidence that I do not suffer from this week’s phobia, alliumphobia.

4. I mentioned Poems on the Underground the week before last and had intended to follow up more quickly. Judith Chernaik has kindly let us have ten copies of each of a recent set of six poems:

And Suddenly It’s Evening by Salvatore Quasimodo, translated by Jack Bevan;

My Father by Yehuda Amichai, translated by Stephen Mitchell;

For the House Sparrow in Decline by Paul Farley;

All Souls’ Night by Frances Cornford;

Diary by Katrina Naomi;

To — by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Let me have your choice of up to three poems and your postal address by WhatsApp or e-mail or message on my blog and I’ll send them to you just as quickly as I can.

Photo of one example poem below – they frame very nicely!

5. And, finally, today’s poem for Ukraine: Lessons of War by Alan Maley (PDF below as well.)

Lessons of War

In the course on war

For complete beginners,

The first lesson teaches

In war there are no winners.

What may first look like victory

Soon tastes like defeat,

When conquering territory

Leaves only dust to eat.

The conqueror’s instant rapture

Soon fades when they fail to capture

The souls of the defeated –

And find their own souls depleted.

So everyone loses when it comes to war:

It’s really difficult to see what war

Could conceivably be for …

Alan Maley

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