Welcome back to the Meerkat Muse!
The End of an Era
The other week my wife and I completed our watch of the 2019 edition of Masterchef Australia, which brought with it the end of the judging careers of Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris and Matt Preston (at least for now). I was sad to see the trio depart, for they provided a lot of entertainment and I felt they helped make the show what it was. However all things end and nothing stays the same for long, so it was time for them to move on. The 2020 edition awaits us, with new judges and a format that my wife and I do not yet know – 2020 was when covid reared its ugly head, so it’s likely the 2020 edition of Masterchef Australia was affected in some way.
A letter from an old employer regarding pension schemes landed the other day, and it got me thinking about my pension funds and where they might lead. My National Insurance contributions will give me something, but I have schemes from previous employers and these will all add up in some way shape or form. In theory I still have many more years of work ahead of me (currently my retirement age is 68, so many many years await), however organising my pensions now could see me have more to retire with when the time finally comes. It’s an unusual bit of practical thinking from myself!
This was on a board in my hometown. I weep for my hometown. It’s bad enough there are covid deniers sprawling ‘covid is a hoax’ on shop windows, now we have this?! Thousands of years of developing our understanding of the universe and we still have ignorant folk who believe the is earth is flat, despite all the evidence. As I said, I weep for my town (and for the human race in general). I wish I had some paint to remove this atrocious statement.
On the 24th of February 2022 Russian troops crossed into Ukraine, under the false pretext of protecting Russian ‘rebels’ who were undermining Ukraine as it was. It very quickly became clear that Russia was after more than securing this so-called ‘rebel’ territory, for their forces struck various locations across Ukraine.
This is not about NATO encroachment on Russia or Russia protecting Russians in Ukraine. This is all about Putin’s ruthless ambition and his desire to restore the USSR. He virtually admitted this when he declared Ukraine wasn’t a true country and will his ambitions stop with Ukraine? I doubt it. I do not want a war between my country and Russia, but I see what’s happening to Ukraine and the destruction raining down upon Ukrainians, and I wonder what sanctions will do. It seems they will achieve very little, though I hope they will achieve more than I can dare hope.
Not doing anything other than aid and sanctions might make ordinary Russians feel pressure and exert that pressure on their leaders, but if that doesn’t work, do we let Ukraine face the Russian military alone? The flipside is that then other countries – my country – face attacks, and if things spiral too far, we face nuclear war, at which point everyone loses. This is a horrible mess of a situation and I can’t see a happy ending.
Let me say that I didn’t go treasure-hunting for real. This. was in a dream. It started as an adventure in Hogwarts where Malfoy (I think) was confronting Snape (doesn’t make sense), and by the end my Dad and I were looking for lost gold (worth billions) in an old English castle, and for some reason I thought a very modern-looking toilet cistern was hiding the gold. As usual my dreams make no sense. There is an upcoming family do and I had another dream about travelling to it, and getting mixed up with platforms and trains. Usually I’m good at train travel so I shouldn’t actually get lost, but we’ll see.
Another dream struck me, and this is where things get a little meta. I dreamt my wife, daughter and I were on a boat, heading for who-knows-where, and I left the canteen to get some air, so I went out on deck. I could hear music, familiar, Lion King music, and sure enough a themed ship was going slowly past our ship. I thought it would be amazing to be on such a cruise, and then I woke up. Then I fell back to sleep, and had another dream where I was describing the boat dream to my wife. Like I said, pretty meta.
On the 27th of February Liverpool scooped the first major(ish) trophy of the English football season, in the form of the Carabao Cup (also known as the EFL Cup or League Cup). It’s not the biggest competition in English football but it is a prize and it could yet form part of an unprecedented ‘quadruple’. The Reds faced off against Chelsea, with whom Liverpool had played out two draws in the Premier League, and this was another keenly contested, tight-but-good game. Both sides created chances and both sides had goals disallowed, and in the end it went all the way to penalties. Cue a particularly lengthy shootout, as neither ‘keeper could make a save. In fact it went all the way to the ‘keepers themselves! Chelsea had brought on their regular ‘keeper (Kepa) for the shootout, and Kepa would blast his penalty over the bar, thus handing the Carabao Cup to Liverpool. Ironic no?
So, one trophy secured, three more to go. We’ll find out if Liverpool can go all the way.
As this Muse draws to a close I find myself struggling to write. The events of the past couple of weeks have rattled the world, and I am no exception. Uncertainty and the risk of an escalation that threatens us all aren’t fun things to live with, though the people of Ukraine are living with far worse. My heart goes out to them, and I hope that somehow, the powers that be can find the sense to end this without things getting worse. Hug your loved ones, tell them you love them, and stay safe.