Blaise Tapp: Plenty to admire about the extraordinary resolve and courage of the Ukrainian people

I know I’m not alone in admitting to the fact that I’ve shed more than a tear or two while watching the desperately grim news reports from the frontline in Ukraine.

By Jane Chippindale
Monday, 14th March 2022, 2:03 pm
Updated Monday, 14th March 2022, 2:20 pm

Blaise Tapp writes: I’d go as far as saying it’s almost impossible not to weep at the truly awful goings on in the eastern corner of Europe right now. Although there is plenty to admire about the extraordinary resolve and courage of the Ukrainian people, at the moment I am switching on my television with a genuine sense of dread, because what we are watching resembles a scene from Hell.

I don’t know about you but I feel guilty about occasionally not wanting to watch the latest reports from a besieged city that we knew absolutely nothing about a fortnight ago for fear of being unable to get a good night’s sleep. Yes, relentless moving dispatches from broadcasters in bulletproof jackets and helmets can be draining but nowhere near as draining as being forced from your homeland or having to live underground in a desperate bid to avoid continuous shelling.

I also regularly feel guilty for wanting to know the latest news, such as whether or not the Russian forces have taken more ground - this isn’t the latest thriller from Sky Atlantic, it’s real life at its very worst and sometimes its very best.

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A father says goodbye to his daughter at Lviv station, before she boarded a bus to the border with Poland (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

I’ve blubbed at the sight of distraught dads my age trying to hold it together as they pack their families off to safety while staying behind to defend their homeland or proud old ladies being transported through a war zone in wheelbarrows.

In fact, I’m crying more than I’ve ever cried before in my life and not just at the terrible events in Ukraine. All sorts set me off these days, especially if it involves plucky kids or a doughty old boy with medals pinned to his chest.

There was a time when 18 stone blokes like me weren’t allowed to display their emotions, never mind discuss them in public but thankfully those days are as distant a memory as Teletext and Sodastream, although I’ll draw the line at becoming misty eyed at reality show contestants talking about their journey.

While the British stiff upper lip is still a thing, we are now much more adept at showing our feelings and I think we are all the better for it. Even top journalists aren’t afraid to display their emotions with the truly excellent Clive Myrie winning a new army of admirers after appearing to shed a tear during a live broadcast on the first day of the invasion. Yes, we demand balance and cold hard facts from our news professionals but we also need to be able to the relate to the people bringing us these stories.

Along with the likes of Jeremy Bowen, Lyse Doucet and Orla Guerin, Mr Myrie has brought a much needed touch of humanity to his reports and has regularly reminded viewers that the victims of this outrage are just like you and I. It is this connection which has led to staggering levels of generosity from not only the British public but people all over the world.

Here, more than £150 million was donated to the official Ukraine fund within the first week, with many smaller, yet no less significant donations, being up and down the country. But, it’s the sight of ordinary people in countries like Poland and Moldova opening their doors to desperate and exhausted strangers that really restores the collective faith in humankind. It won’t surprise you to learn that I’ve cried at these displays of boundless generosity too.

Of course my tears or the tears of anybody else sitting in a comfy armchair more than a 1,000 miles away from the heart of this conflict won’t change anything but it is important that we continue to be both moved and appalled by what we see.

The moment that we cease to be upset by such appalling acts is the moment that humanity is officially finished.

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