2 July 2002

Such miserable weather - Wimbledon and the second England-Sri Lanka one-day cricket match have been interrupted today - hard to tell it’s July and not October. And, as I sit on the Eurostar train at 8pm, it looks like dusk across the green Kent countryside. There is a squeak and a half in this carriage which is not a little irritating - but not so irritating that I want to move. Adam has gone to the Brecon Beacons with the school for four days on a geography field trip

Barbara told me on Friday that Alistair had put in an offer on a house in Guildford and that it had been accepted. The plan is that Alistair will buy it, and while B is selling her house to pay for her share of it, they will have some work done on it. I knew B had been looking at houses with Alistair but I hadn’t realised they were going to move so quickly. I do think that with regards to my own life, B’s getting down off the fence firmly on the other side from me is absolutely right - right - right. It fits in with everything else that is happening to me - the closure of this entire period of my life. Only Adam and my family will provide any real continuity for me into my post-50 life - whatever, wherever it is. I was at Judy and Rob’s on Sunday, at a garden party - I don’t think I’ve felt so far away from them. Judy spent the afternoon singing folk songs with her choir friends, and I played table tennis with Adam. And since my 50 fiesta, I’ve felt - as I think I’ve said before - as though I’ve moved away from a lot of my friends. Not because I don’t like them any more, or they don’t like me but because I see them for what they really are - old friends but not close friends. I mean how often do I see any of them - four times a year at most probably. How have I managed to sustain a social identity on the back of such irregular contacts for so many years? No, the time is nigh for me to face up to the isolated misanthropic bubble I’ve sunk into - and see what I want to, or what I can do about it - if anything.

There was an air crash last night on the German/Swiss border. A Russian plane with about 70 Russian children from privileged families, on its way to a Unesco event in Spain, crashed into a DHL plane at high altitude. It seems there was some air traffic control confusion, and the Russian plane failed to respond to ATC commands. The children had missed their connecting flight because of a traffic jam in Moscow and, because they were kids of high-level officials of some sort, a special flight had been put on for them.

In the Middle East things just get worse. The US has now said it will no longer negotiate with Arafat and that the Palestinians must elect a new administration, but European leaders say it is not for the US to dictate to the Palestinians. Even ‘The Economist’ has slapped Bush round the face for apparently taking a policy line that could have been written by Ariel Sharon. In the wake of 11 September, it seems counter-intuitive for the Americans to be behaving so evidently anti-Arab - unless of course, someone somewhere is orchestrating an international kind of good cop (Europe) bad cop (US) manoeuvre on the Palestinians to try and find a way to stop the terrorism.Everything Israel has done in the last six months and every ounce of support it has managed to squeeze from Western Europe which is always trying to do the right thing (by and large) stems from the fact that the suicide bombers are considered terrorists and that terrorism is a terrible evil that must be stamped out. But I have an unanswered question about this - when the IRA killed British people with their bombs, for example, the British government didn’t retaliate by killing IRA members - so why is Israel allowed (i.e. why isn’t Israel condemned outright by the West) to terrorise the Palestinian people, invade their territory, and kill people in reprisals.

August 2002

Paul K Lyons


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