The Gaza-Houthi issue came close to home this week when the shipping company with whom we were set to travel from Singapore to Athens next month pulled the plug on the whole journey.
This, a long-planned and paid-for trip (possibly the last major international excursion for us both), had a heap of personal history within due to the ports of call. Some of which stretch back to my early sea-going days in the late 1950s. Nostalgia at its best.
I suppose we should have expected it. The planned call at Ashdod in Israel which was to be a highlight – as I have frequently expressed a desire to visit Jerusalem – was pulled three weeks ago and a Greek island substituted as ‘compensation’. The writing on the wall should have been clear at that moment especially with my professional maritime experience.
The marine insurance industry are a canny bunch of operators who have, over centuries, learned to deal with the tricks of shipowners. The insurers will have informed the cruise company that the cost of cover would escalate wildly – or possibly disappear altogether – if they stuck the bow of the ship into the southern entrance to the Red Sea.
With forward commitments for the northern hemisphere summer cruising the Mediterranean they are now faced with an extremely lengthy passage deadheading around the horn of Africa to keep their word with those clients.
Strangely the Houthi thrust and the Hamas-Israeli conflict are not directly linked for the latter is being generously (?) fed by the United States who continue to pour billions of dollars into Israel to feed an historical frenzy of which the world has become very tired. Yet both the US and the British bombarded Houthi sites inside mainland Yemen without an invitation from the local government.
Meanwhile the US has now taken precipitous air strikes in Syria and Iraq in retaliation against the deaths of three US soldiers who were stationed on the northern border of Jordan.
It may become a very ugly situation with Iran stoking the fires of dissent and no sensible solution in sight – and that sleeping giant Hezbollah sitting on the southern end of Syria well placed to add to the inferno in nearby northern Israel.
Currently there is no direct link to the sad Ukraine conflict – other than they are geographically quite close – but it only takes a lunatic thrust by some small neo-religious group to widen the ring of fire.
And here we sit at the bottom end of the Pacific in our wee town, struggling to negotiate the orange cones that Waipa DC’s roading manager scatters at random, closing streets and placing highly aggravating and poorly signed steep ramps into the roads. No explanation, no apology, intent no doubt on attending yet another secret council meeting that clearly frustrates at least one councillor. Roger Gordon appears to be the only elected Cambridge representative who understands democracy and transparency.
Where are the explanations? Where is the justification for the highly expensive and hugely empty cycling paths that are a part cause of this roading mayhem? Why are cyclists still riding on the main roads two abreast paying scant regard to their and vehicular drivers’ safety?
Third world comfort anyone?