The events of yesterday took me straight back to the summer of 1968, a turning point in my life. I was driving around Scotland in my own car, having just passed my driving test, and in the autumn I was due to start university. Not long before, my mother had told me that although she had been born in Vienna—which I had known for a long time—her parents were both from Czechoslovakia. The so-called ‘Prague spring’ that year, spearheaded by the reformist leader Alexander Dubček, seemed likely to lead to more liberal governance in the country. It was as though even hardened communist regimes were not immune to the ‘summer of love’ effect.
Then as I was driving home, the news came through that tanks from Warsaw Pact countries, headed by Russia, had rolled into the capital and crushed any possibility of a democratic rebirth. They crushed my hopes too, because I had the vague idea of trying to track down my grandparents.
And so to yesterday, when the pleasure of doing a very well-received talk on my book about the Red Barn Murder to a local U3A, was completely overshadowed by the appalling news from Kyiv. It is pointless to repeat all the reasons why this is a brutal and cynical crime against the entire free world. The Iron Curtain falls again, as Putin starts to construct Soviet Union v 2.0.
I had thought that when the original Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991, the world would be able to forget about ‘Mutually Assured Destruction’—wondering whether our children would ever grow up—and concentrate on more useful things like feeding the planet. Swords into ploughshares... Now we are back to the bad old days. It is difficult not to be very, very depressed.
Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs