Soviet Reunion

I’ve not written for some time but I’m now posting again.

The thing is, I have friends in Ukraine whom I’ve known for a great many years. I visit them once, sometimes twice, annually so it’s been tough watching recent events in the news. I travelled there in October when the signs of war were increasingly ominous and I’ve not stopped worrying about them since.

I’m a teacher and during the recent Easter break I journeyed to Ukraine to see these same friends. This time, however, the trip wasn’t so straightforward as it required flying into a neighbouring country, taking trains, boarding buses then crossing the border on foot.

I didn’t go there as a mercenary. My sole mission was to deliver medicines and other necessities whilst checking on the wellbeing of my friends. Given the circumstances, most are holding up quite well but I’m sure there’s loads they’re not telling me.

That’s because they don’t want me to worry.

Can you imagine that?

After an unforgettable week followed by some tearful goodbyes, I made my way back across the border and flew home.

Back to teaching.

Back to writing.

Back to normal.

Lucky me.

Peace Nicked

“Have you been following events in The Ukraine?”

“John, we no longer call it that.”

“No longer call what what?”

“We no longer call it The Ukraine.”

“What are you talking about?”

“We just say Ukraine now; they’ve dropped the The,” Laverne gave me the lowdown.

“Who did?”

“The Ukrainians.”

“Don’t you mean Ukrainians?”

“That’s what I said.”

“No, you said The Ukrainians.”

“Oh, for God’s sake…”

“Why is it I’m only hearing about this now?”

“Try spending less time on TikTok.”

“I enjoy watching eco-tourists run for their lives.”

“Fair enough,” Laverne shrugged.

“So, when did they ditch the The?”

“I believe it was around the same time Kentucky Fried Chicken rebranded as KFC.”

“Do you think their KFCs serve Chicken Kiev?”

“We don’t say that either.”

“What? Chicken?”

“No, Kiev.”

“You’re kidding.”

“We now pronounce it Kyiv, like Steve.”

“Who the hell cares how he says it?”

“Who?”

“Steve Downey.”

“Please tell me you didn’t just say that.”

“And how would the Downeys know Ukrainian anyway? They’re a bunch of redheads.”  

“Sweetie, I want you to stop talking,” Laverne took my hand. “This is all the result of transliteration.”

“I thought their flag was blue and yellow.”

“In the past we had a habit of anglicising names which proved tricky to pronounce and no one really questioned it. Now there’s a bit of a reset happening, that’s all.”

“My stress levels go through the roof every time I have to say anemone.”

“When did you last need to say anemone?”

“Two and a half hours ago.”

“I’m talking about foreign names.”

“Brunhilde.”

“Of places.”

“Melbourne.”

“More foreign than that.”

“Machu Picchu.”

“It’s Bombay becoming Mumbai and Calcutta becoming Kolkata, that sort of thing,” Laverne clarified.

“We weren’t that far off on those two,” I felt I ought to give credit where credit was due.

“My issue isn’t with the consonants so much, as the bloody diphthongs.”

“Your Vietnamese neighbours? What have they done now?”

“Stop it,” Laverne giggled. “Hey, did you know that Kanye’s changed his name as well? Apparently he now goes by Ye. My son told me.”

Ye?”

“Yup.”

“Maybe it’s short for Yeuch.”

“Or Yikes!”

“I still fail to see the significance.”

“Well, according to Ye himself, ye is the most common word in The Bible.”

“Blessed be the fruit.”

“Oh, there’s more… Ye then enlightened us further by explaining that ye can sometimes mean thee.”

“Which Ukrainians have dropped like a hot potato,” I reminded my friend.

“They dropped The, not thee.”

“Be that as it may, I think ye’ll find the most common word in The Bible is, in fact, the.”

“So we’ve circled back on ourselves,” Laverne groaned. “How do we bring this to an end?

“Here’s a crazy idea: add a The.”

The End

No Fly Zone

Where do storks nest during a war
As spires tumble and towns are no more?
What will deer eat when tanks advance
Over sweet meadows of young, tender plants?
What drives a cub out of the den
Crying alone for its mother again?
Gone is the gold
Dark is the dawn
Ghostly and cold
Best to fly on