23 June 2022, The Tablet

Punch and Judy – our Ukrainian guests laughed and then they cried

When the world is so fraught with wickedness, all we can do is pray.

Punch and Judy – our Ukrainian guests laughed and then they cried

Mariupol, with the seven-shot icon of the Mother of God against the backdrop of a burned-out multi-storey residential building in the Pravoberezhny district of the city.
Anatoliy Zhdanov/Kommersant/Sipa


MY HUSBAND was playing clock golf with his new best friend. Yuri was bashing the ball over our unkempt lawn when suddenly he looked up and stood stockstill. Following his gaze, Rob spotted a passenger plane, very high up, half an hour out of Gatwick. But for Yuri, who is eight, planes mean danger. It flew silently away; they resumed their game.

Slowly, he and his mother started relaxing. Olena no longer panics at thunderstorms. She says, firmly, “I say myself no. It is weather.” We took her to Brighton to spend the day with a fellow Ukrainian, but it was too populous and noisy for her. As we neared home, she sighed happily and declared, “I love my village.” We, too, began to relax. It was going well.

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