On the whole, Covid 19 now seems regarded as a nuisance, rather than an existential threat. It's still around, but Europe at least is opening up. We're happy to live with it.

Costas the Coinsnake was released into the wild, none the worse for his trip to the Lennons. The oven man has gone radio-silent. Who can blame him? Still, I expect he'll pitch up at the end of this week or next. Thus far, the oven hasn't tripped out again.

World news fills me with sadness. Queen Elizabeth appears, since the death of her husband, Prince Phillip, ever frailer. Her second son it appears, has discovered an urgent need to stop people talking about what he got up to as a younger man. No liability has been admitted, but the whole thing is distasteful at best, revolting at worst. The Queen's first son's second son also seems hellbent on bringing down the monarchy. His choice to opt out of the "firm" was made, but led to him being, well, out of the firm. So now, he's writing a book about it. This won't end well for the monarchy. Or perhaps it will? Maybe they will all be much happier in a much more low-key role?

Meanwhile, my old friend, Vladimir, has his eyes on the Ukraine again. As I type, his forces are fighting both sides of some skirmishes, to provide the necessary excuse for invasion. Will he? I don't know. He's certainly taking every opportunity to gain more concessions from the West, without invading. There's been a phoney war going on for a couple of months now, and people are bending over backwards to appease him again. The logic is that he is creating a pretext - so that he can invade with "cause". Nonsense. Everybody knows that the pretexts are false, and I think most people know that the big V needs no pretext. If it serves his interest, then he'll do it; pretext be damned. The false flag stuff is the standard play-acting that creates a pretext for diplomacy, which is what politicians call international bribery, (as opposed to lobbying, which is for domestic bribery). If he thinks he'll get more by NOT invading, he won't. If invasion looks the best bet, then in he'll go. Perhaps the most telling sign is that Vlad's moved his superyacht out of harm's way. In the hours since I drafted this, Putin has recognised the breakaway republics in Eastern Ukraine, and will be sending in men and matériel to keep the peace.

I fervently hope there is no more conflict. I recently read "Johnny got his gun" by Dalton Trumbo, a novel that should required reading for all politicians.

The UK has been battered by what must be most innocuously-named gang in history.

"What happened to you?" "I was set upon by Dudley, Eunice and Franklin." "Oh, nasty." "And then Gladys came and put the boot in."

Fact. Stranger than fiction.

Now - quick pitch for Membership. I'm writing a novel, and releasing the a draft version in weekly instalments. Just last week, we hit halfway. Things hot up now for our hero, a clueless, naïve young man who's pitched up in early 1990s Budapest. Members get to see and comment on these drafts, and one the process is done, they will each get a completed version with a note of thanks from me. These members get to feedback in our own Slack group, and talk about, well anything really. Membership is £3 per month or £24 a year and helps me keep the lights on. Sign up here.