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  • Writer's pictureThe Paladins

Fragments from a War Diary, Part #375

My friend S———- is another Bond girl in the making, and today she contacted me out of the blue and asked me when we would be meeting up. I always love to hear from her, and we don’t know whether we can find the time but I have invited her to Mano’s Bar tonight so if you are there and I am with a beautiful Bond girl, please don’t interrupt. She was complaining to me about the process of applying for jobs which is inevitably frustrating for a cultured and educated lady in a wartime environment. Even decent office jobs carry lousy pay and no emoluments, and S——— wanted a thorough moan about the whole thing. I told her that I only accept moans in person so we provisionally scheduled a long walk this weekend so she can moan to me about this subject. In invited her to a horrifically obscure modernist ballet on Saturday evening but fortunately for her there are no tickets left. And then I contemplated the prospect of work in my military kitchen, having being doing a tiresome set of office tasks all morning.

My friend said I should just go to bed, and forget all about volunteering. I replied: “but what about working to save Ukraine, the motherland?” She said it was more important that I get rest and look after myself than look after Ukraine. She was right. Barely an hour into my shift this afternoon, I started to feel exhausted and I could barely keep my eyelids apart. I went to the toilet for a few minutes to stare at a pile of plastic buckets in the hope that it would wake me up, but to no avail: I was bushwhacked and soon afterwards I had to come back. I should have taken that hint from my friend, but I’d trodden off to my doom and worked myself into a stupor.

Fortunately one of the advantages of working in this environment is that I can pretty much pick and choose the work tasks I want to put together to compose my day; it’s up to me. My mind is most active in the mornings and the late afternoons, I am most sociable in the evenings and my physical strength is at its peak early in the afternoon. So I can mix and match my tasks throughout the day in which a person in a conventional office job or with fixed working hours never could. And in the place I work, you can leave when you are exhausted or you can work as long as you like; and nobody complains and everyone is happy with whatever you can contribute. I like to think of it as a sort of high-spirited constructive socialism, from each according to his ability, from each according to his needs, a sort idealised Marxism without Lenin and Stalin and the Russians and everything else. But I’m dreaming. Marxism was a vision, not a coherent political philosophy.

As I was packing up to head home, one of the ladies in the kitchen got sight of a “Sex Instructor” patch on my coat that I had picked up somewhere in eastern Ukraine where the military humour tends to be rather raucous. I’m sure this is the sort of thing that could get you sued back home but in Ukraine’s anarchistic libertarian society this type of humour is much enjoyed and soon all the girls in the kitchen were taking a look at this patch and at me and taking photographs. I think they thought I might actually be a sex instructor (whatever that might involve) and one of my friends N—- asked me if she could have a certificate of instruction. This sort of silliness is one of the things I love about Ukraine, as the Ukrainian girls flirt relentlessly with us chaotic and haphazard foreigners who have come to help out their country. They must wonder why we are here but they know our intentions are for the most part the best.

I’ve been thinking about the liposuction and I’ve quite gone off the idea. I feel healthy and natural living in Ukraine. I eat well, and I don’t eat MacDonald’s or any of this junk food prevalent in the west. I drink too much beer but I’m even cutting down a little on that. I exercise daily and I am usually pleased with the results on my “step counter” on my mobile ‘phone. Why would I want to go through invasive surgery to reduce the fat around my belly? It’s not as though I am sick and the whole procedure seems entirely disproportionate. After all, a girl should love a man’s curves; it’s just the way my body was built. So I’m sorry that I’m going to have to disappoint NSK tomorrow when I meet her; there won’t be any liposuction or other invasive surgery for me to try to meet an imagined ideal, when what I really need to do is just improve my diet and alcohol consumption some more. I feel mentally fit and well as can be.

Ukraine at war is turning into a comfortable environment for me: somewhere I can call home and where there is a schedule that is as full as I want it to be but also without the stress of the daily grind and without a relentless sensation of pressure that characterises so much of western life on an ongoing basis. Whether you be having an argument with your boss at work, an argument with your spouse or suffering a petty feud at the gold club whose private membership fees you work so hard to be able to afford, much in western life seems rather jaded from a distance and for me that distance is Ukraine. Although the bombs and missiles might rain down from time to time, for me at least Ukraine is a place of calm and peace and relative comfort. I know there is misery all around me but I account for that emotion by doing everything I can to help the people of Ukraine. And, on the whole, I am surrounded by nice people: much nicer than many of those I knew back home. Now I must prepare myself so that my blond Bond girl, if she shows up, has a handsome if slightly overweight Bond boy to greet her. For what we are about to receive, may we be truly thankful.


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