Covid in the Family, Historic Wuhan and Blair Knighthood

Apparently my eldest son, his wife and son have Covid after a trip into London to a cinema. Which rather shows how easy it is to catch. But their symptoms are mild so far.

When this was reported I was reading a page of a book called Destination Chungking by Han Suyin and it contains a description of Wuhan, the alleged source of the pandemic, in 1938.

This is what it said: “Where the Han River meets the Yangtze there are three cities, separated by the rivers — Wuchang, Hankow, and Hanyang, collectively known as Wuhan, the great industrial area of Central China. Wuhan, hotbed of revolutions, where the republic was brought to birth in 1911, now China’s wartime capital — not ancient, hauntingly lovely, dignified, like Peking, nor shining as a new-minted coin, showy with new palaces of government, like Nanking, but grim and raucous, toiling in sweat and mud in the broiling summer sun and the chill, penetrating damp of winter. The unbelievably huge Yangtze, Son of the Ocean, a thousand miles from the coast, winds between the Wuhan cities, coppery brown, turbid with the red soil of the west washed down in its wild course through mountainous Szechwan. Here in the level land of Centred China it broadens to a boundless plain of water, stretching away southward into the Poyang Lake, and even at Wuhan almost too wide to see across. Wuchang on the south bank was already bombed to ruins. But Hankow, with its foreign concessions, seemed as we approached it by ferry untouched. The tall buildings along the waterfront stood unshattered. The ships moored at the docks were loading and unloading with customary activity. The foreign consulates on the Bund, huge, old-fashioned mansions in their gardens, seemed serenely unaware of war”.

The book covers the Japan-China war and is a remarkable exposition of the old China, written in a fluid and emotive style. Highly recommended.

Other news is of the knighthood of Tony Blair, much to the disgust of many people who opposed the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. After finishing Rory Stewart’s book on a walk across the former country over Xmas (see a previous blog post), I read his biography of his time as a provincial governor in Iraq after the coalition ousted Saddam Hussain. It’s called “Occupational Hazards” and is also highly recommended. Anyone reading it would realise what a mistake it was to try and bring peace and democracy to Iraq in the way attempted. All wars are tragedies in the making and certainly Iraq and Afghanistan have turned out to be disasters not just for the people of those countries but for the world as a whole.  

Let us hope the New Year avoids more pointless wars.  

Roger Lawson (Twitter:  )

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