The Charge

The Crimean War of 1854

Today is Tuesday Mat 17th, 2022. Kia ora!

Yesterday I went to a friend’s house for lunch.  It was lovely.  I feel at present that I don’t have much to write about, however in the afternoon I read more of the Stalingrad book. It is such a wonderful novel:  for years, I had thought that the Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa in June 1941 was very scary and effective. But it seems it was not; the German victories were Pyrrhic ones, in that while they kept on “winning”, as they moved east, in fact they were gravely stretching their supply lines, and the troops were ill-clad and ill-supplied. In the end, of course, the Russians (well supplied by Allied forces) won.

Now I am watching the success of Ukrainian forces against the Russian invasion:  there is such irony here, in that the brave defence of the Ukrainians against the ill-timed and ill-equipped invasion of the much-vaunted Russian troops parallels in many ways the ill-judged German invasion of Russia.

This morning I learned that one third of Russia’s forces have been destroyed; that Ukrainian forces are entering Russia north of Kharkiv; that there is fierce fighting around Izyum, which the Russians have taken; that there have been more evacuations from Mariupol (which has still not surrendered; and there’s more evidence in Bucha of Russian shooting of civilians. The Ukrainians deliberately flooded a village to prevent Russian military access; and while Ukrainians reported the use of phosphorus bombs in Mariupol, the Telegraph podcast reports that these were probably mistaken for incendiary devices.

In Covid 19 news, the NZ Prime Minister Ardern is still unwell. Phil Twyford has tested positive as well. Australia has a very high number of cases – I think it was 55,000 on Sunday, although you’d struggle sometimes to get this news. Mind you, there have been deaths and hospitalisations and even some on ventilators there. In New Zealand, we’ve had no one on a ventilator since the initial outbreak.  JD took a RAT test on Sunday evening, and I took one on Monday morning – both were negative, thankfully. I didn’t take one because I had symptoms, but because I’d been out and about, and was to visit a friend’s house.

Yesterday there were 7,061 new cases 0f Covid 19, and 5 deaths. There were 415 cases in hospital, and ? in Intensive Care. It was also reported that of the deaths, 3 people were from the Southern region, 1 was from Auckland and 1 was from Bay of Plenty. 1 person was in their 50s, 1 person was in their 70s, and 3 were aged over 90. Of these people, 3 were women and 2 were men.

In North Korea, there’ve been more deaths – 50 odd, this far. It’s feared that over 1 million people have been infected.  I just competed a survey about concert attendance, and I have to say I don’t feel nearly as safe as I did in 2020, when we both enjoyed going to several concert performances.  The seating in the Michael Fowler Centre is very cramped – like being on an aeroplane; so I wouldn’t choose to go there at present.  Perhaps if mask-wearing were enforced, and they used every second row, I might consider it.

Today’s Covid 19 report is more serious than yesterday’s. Today there are 9,843 new cases, and eight deaths have been reported. There are 421 people in hospital, and 10 in Intensive Care.

Of the eight people whose deaths the ministry reported on Tuesday, three were from the Southern region, two from Auckland, two from Northland, and one from Canterbury. One person was aged in their 60s, four people were in their 70s, and three were aged over 90. Of these people, four were women and four were men.

It’s reported that the location of new community cases was Northland (288), Auckland (3442), Waikato (792), Bay of Plenty (342), Lakes (185), Hawke’s Bay (361), MidCentral (339), Whanganui (105), Taranaki (291), Tairāwhiti (90), Wairarapa (87), Capital and Coast (600), Hutt Valley (249), Nelson Marlborough (320), Canterbury (1305), South Canterbury (177), Southern (781), West Coast (83), Unknown (6). Nationwide, the seven-day rolling average of community case numbers on Tuesday was 7795 – last Tuesday it was 7927. There were 63 new imported (i.e.  from overseas) cases.

The numbers I’m watching most closely are those from Hawkes Bay (361) ad Wellington (600). That’s a concerning rise.  I haven’t had a report from Hohepa for a few weeks now. It seems that we’re well and truly in for more sickness, whether it be flu or Covid 19. 

Meanwhile, the Heretaunga Wing at Hutt Hospital has been declared an earthquake risk, and must be evacuated; in Hawkes Bay, a ward has been placed in lockdown to prevent the spread of the highly contagious norovirus, and at Southland Hospital in Invercargill more than one ward has been closed to visitors because of multiple Covid 19 exposures.  It’s reported that two patients, one on the rehabilitation ward and another on the medical ward, both tested positive on Friday followed by two more, one in each ward. Two patients on the surgical ward have also since tested positive. There are restrictions in other areas of the hospital also. In the US, Stephen Colbert is back – he did have Covid 19, and was getting better when he fell ill again. Comedian Jimmy Kimmel has it – again.

In Ukraine, the last besieged fighters (more than 260) have left Mariupol, it’s reported. Does that mean they’ve conceded defeat?

It’s now Wednesday May 18th.

This morning I got up early and went to hymn singing. It was lovely, as always. Afterwards I had morning tea and wrote to my daughter; as the shop filled up, I was happy to leave and catch the bus into town.  I went to David Jones, but evidently they’ve been having a sale for some time now, and lots of things have gone. I didn’t see anything I wanted to buy there. The I walked to Unity Books, where I did buy something – a book about Persia, (a history of ancient Persia) with beautiful coloured photographs. Then I met my cousin for lunch at a café which was almost empty. I had a very nice omelette. Then I caught a full bus home. Thankfully, the bus emptied out and I was able to sit well away from other passengers.

Tomorrow I have singing again.

Todays’ Covid 19 report wasn’t great. There are 9,570 new cases of Covid 19, and there’ve been 32 new deaths. That takes the total to over 1,000. There are 425 people in hospital, and 9 in Intensive Care.

Of the 32 people whose deaths the ministry reported on Wednesday, two people were from Northland; nine from the Auckland region; two from Bay of Plenty; two from Taranaki; one from Tairāwhiti; four from MidCentral; two from Hawke’s Bay; three from the Wellington region; one from Nelson-Marlborough; four from Canterbury and two from Southern. One person was in their 20s; four people were in their 40s; two in their 50s; four in their 60s; nine in their 70s; nine in their 80s and three were aged over 90. Of these people, 10 were women and 22 were men.

The location of Wednesday’s new community cases was Northland (273), Auckland (3,297), Waikato (742), Bay of Plenty (307), Lakes (173), Hawke’s Bay (304), MidCentral (318), Whanganui (124), Taranaki (283), Tairāwhiti (82), Wairarapa (91), Capital and Coast (642), Hutt Valley (241), Nelson Marlborough (314), Canterbury (1,368), South Canterbury (155), Southern (737), West Coast (112), Unknown (7).

Nationwide, the seven-day rolling average of community case numbers on Wednesday was 8024 – last Wednesday it was 7533. So the numbers are inching upwards. There were 91 new imported cases.

It’s now Thursday May 19th. This morning I listened to a very interesting interview between Dan Carlin (of Hardcore History fame) and Barry Strauss about the battle of Actium (in 31 B.C.), which heralded the change of Roman government from a republic to an empire under the Emperor Augustus (formerly Octavian). This was so absorbing I was almost late to singing.

Singing was very enjoyable, as always. We do so enjoy our time together.  We sang some beautiful songs, including ABBA’s SOS, Joni Mitchell’s The Circle Game, and Will you still love me tomorrow.  Afterwards JD met me and we had lunch at La Cloche, always enjoyable. Quiche, salad, French fries and a long black coffee – delicious. We got home to find another LRB has arrived. I have so much to read and to listen to at present.

Today’s coronavirus report is as follows: there are 9,091 new community cases; there have been 5 further deaths. There are 411 in hospital, and 12 in Intensive Care. The increase in numbers continues to be worrying. I can’t find the figures now, but Wellington (not the Hutt Valley) had 595 new cases, and I think Hawkes Bay had about 259. Somebody died in Wellington.

It’s now Friday May 20th.

Early this morning was the thunderstorm we were promised yesterday. Yesterday we had wind, rain and stormy weather; this morning we had lots of thunder and lightning. I listened to a Skulduggery podcast, where the hosts spoke to the two hosts of the new “Will be Wild” podcast. This has just been released and goes over the events of the US Capitol riot on January 6 2021.Once again, I am very depressed about all this, hearing more information about the dreadful events leading up to that fateful day.

A new issue of the LRB arrived yesterday. I read an article about the refugees arriving in Poland from Ukraine. They are mainly women and children, because men are required to stay in Ukraine and fight. Many of these women are particularly vulnerable to male crooks, American evangelists, and the Polish government’s archaic attitude towards abortion, despite many cases of rape, by both invading Russian troops, and those who would seek to exploit woman and teenage girls.  I also read an article about grain supplies disrupted by the war; many countries used to buy grain from Russia and/or Ukraine. These supplies have been hugely disrupted, as countries sought to recover from the effects of climate change or the coronavirus pandemic, or both. Egypt is particularly badly affected.

This morning one of my sons and his two children visited; then someone came from Access to do some cleaning.

I read more LRB articles: about the war in the Crimea in the 1850’s: who (of my era!) can forget Tennyson’s poem, of the 1968 film, The Charge of the Light Brigade (where British troops looked particularly incompetent). It’s reproduced below  I also read an article about the Italian commander Rodolfo Graziani, in the Second World War. I remembered there is a podcast about him too. I had never heard of Graziani before, but I doubt I will forget his brutality in Ethiopia in 1937 (after an assassination attempt) after this. He and Mussolini also took many valuables from Ethiopia with them.

Today’s Covid 19 report is as follows: today there were 7,800 new community cases of Covid 19, and 17 deaths were reported. Among them, 3 people died in Wellington, one in Hawkes Bay. There are 401 people in hospital, and 14 in Intensive Care.  In Wellington, there are 530 new cases; in Hawkes Bay there are 270. In Australia, people are still dying in large numbers, there are many in hospital, and some on ventilators.  You can look up the totals each day on the ABC news website. In North Korea, there are 2 million cases, and the leader is not best pleased.

In Ukraine, hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers have been taken to Russia, Russia announces; the Ukrainians are invading Belgorod, in Russia; some refugees are returning to western Ukraine, brave souls, to their ruined homes.  I don’t really know what’s going on there. The US Senate, despite their internal political hassles, have approved a large aid package – I think it’s 33 Billion US dollars.

That’s it for now. Thank goodness we have RAT tests!  Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.

The Charge of the Light Brigade



Half a league, half a league,

Half a league onward,

All in the valley of Death

   Rode the six hundred.

“Forward, the Light Brigade!

Charge for the guns!” he said.

Into the valley of Death

   Rode the six hundred.


“Forward, the Light Brigade!”

Was there a man dismayed?

Not though the soldier knew

   Someone had blundered.

   Theirs not to make reply,

   Theirs not to reason why,

   Theirs but to do and die.

   Into the valley of Death

   Rode the six hundred.


Cannon to right of them,

Cannon to left of them,

Cannon in front of them

   Volleyed and thundered;

Stormed at with shot and shell,

Boldly they rode and well,

Into the jaws of Death,

Into the mouth of hell

   Rode the six hundred.


Flashed all their sabres bare,

Flashed as they turned in air

Sabring the gunners there,

Charging an army, while

   All the world wondered.

Plunged in the battery-smoke

Right through the line they broke;

Cossack and Russian

Reeled from the sabre stroke

   Shattered and sundered.

Then they rode back, but not

   Not the six hundred.


Cannon to right of them,

Cannon to left of them,

Cannon behind them

   Volleyed and thundered;

Stormed at with shot and shell,

While horse and hero fell.

They that had fought so well

Came through the jaws of Death,

Back from the mouth of hell,

All that was left of them,

   Left of six hundred.


When can their glory fade?

O the wild charge they made!

   All the world wondered.

Honour the charge they made!

Honour the Light Brigade,

   Noble six hundred!

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