Yesterday was one of life’s more unusual evenings out. Let’s begin with the good. I went to a glorious opera at the Lviv Opera House, Nabucco by Verdi, one of the finest piece in the operatic repertoire about battles over power and love as Nabucco rises to become King of the Israelites. The rendition of the opera’s musical masterpiece, Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves, was just exquisite, and I was blown away both by the opera and its performers. My companion for the opera is as exquisite and wonderful as the opera and, although new to opera, she was enthralled by the excitements of the show. The cast had an immediate and rousing standing ovation, and I was so inspired that I immediately purchased another ticket for tomorrow’s show. I walked out of the Opera House and along Svobody Prospekt, Lviv’s main avenue, glowing with enthusiasm and excitement and humming the opera’s tunes to myself. My friend and I parted ways, and I hope to see her again at the opera soon. She is a wonderful person.
Just before the opera, I had conducted my first podcast interview with a young Ukrainian man from Lviv who had gone to Chernihiv in the north of Ukraine, after the failed Russian attempt to occupy Kyiv in the early weeks of the war, to help rebuild people’s houses that had been wantonly destroyed by Russian occupiers. This sort of inspiring work likewise elevates my spirits, and makes me proud of the sense of unity and common decency and humanity amongst Ukrainian people in striving to work for their country and to build a common future for Ukraine. It’s a wonderful thing to behold. We did the interview hall in English and half in Ukrainian, with my asking the questions in English and his answering them in Ukrainian. This isn’t a perfect combination but it works for now. The podcast is posted on the Lviv Herald’s website, www.lvivherald.com/podcasts, and I hope you enjoy listening to it. We’ll add transcripts in both English and Ukrainian just as soon as we get the chance.
While I was still humming and buzzing from this excitement and an enthusiastic day, I strolled over to Mano’s Bar that yesterday evening felt particularly like Moss Eisley Space port; it was jam packed with hoary and unusual characters and there I was, sitting on my own, at the bar, wearing a suit with a blue-and-yellow tie and a blue-and-yellow handkerchief and blue-and-yellow cufflinks on my shirt, a proud display of Ukrainian patriotism. And along comes a good friend and tells me he has some bad news for me. Do you remember that chap I mentioned to you before, called R——— W———-? It turns out that he has been sending people messages to the effect that when I was working for Siobhan’s Trust Eastern Team back in early September, I had been “exposing myself”; and he had received this information from a man called T— H——-, the “Chief Operations Officer” of Siobhan’s Trust. Siobhan’s Trust is a reputable charity and it has even won an award for its work; but when I was working for its eastern team in Zaporizhzhia for about a month in September 2023, let’s just say that I became very disappointed by its practices and I felt morally obliged to raise certain sorts of concerns using the relevant procedures.
It seems that Mr H——- came to learn about this - although he shouldn’t, because I’d explained to the trustees that I feared victimisation from this person should he found out. And it does rather appear as though the victimisation had come to pass. T— H——, it appears, has been spreading information that I was exposing myself, to R——— W———-, who had been sending messages about it I think for no better reason than that he deeply dislikes me. Now I don’t think anyone who knows me would give the slightest credence to these bizarre allegations; nevertheless it;’s very disappointing to learn that such rumours are being circulated about you in writing and of course also it’s against the law. We have civil law torts of defamation and malicious falsehood in my country, to deter and compensate this sort of outrageous behaviour. Just because you imagine yourself to be a member of the NGO community doesn’t make you a saint; in fact quite the opposite. A number of the people I have met here are indecent people: profiteers, here to exploit the fact that there is a war for their own benefit. These are a nasty bunch of people, and an example has to be made of them. So it seems I have become the international community’s policeman in Lviv.
I have started a legal procedure against all these various people, with an offer to settle: that they pay money towards good causes, through the Ukraine Development Trust, www.development-foundation.org, which carefully vets the organisations it works with and applies high legal and ethical standards to the work it is doing and doesn’t engage in this sort of mindless and absurd mud-slinging which represents the NGO community at its worst. So I am determined that some good will come out of this. Now the legal procedure has begun, I will say no more about it, save to vow that any money received from it will not go to me but will go to good causes in Ukraine. I’m not here to take advantage of people, to make a profit for myself, or to engage in revolting personal attacks on people; I’m here to help Ukraine and her people.
Today I have another podcast; then I will be working in my military kitchen; then I will be meeting friends and talking to them about their feelings for the war and how to bring it to as rapid a conclusion as possible. I am proud to be working with decent people of integrity, including the person who told me of R——— W———-’s absurd social media whispering campaign against me. They are the true heroes of this war, as well as the Ukrainian people. Let’s keep focused on what’s important, and not let this sort of absurd nonsense distract us.