Some years ago, the joke was that if the Russians wanted to invade, their most effective pre-invasion sabotage would be to send in spetsnaz units to put traffic cones along the roads outside UK military bases. The British proverbially queue, ha ha, and traffic cones slow us down now as much as they did then. But these days, the not-quite-so-funny joke would be: they could send in a single agent to open an email attachment. It was actually quite difficult to bring down Lehman Brothers - all that mortgage paperwork - but today, our civilisation has so far advanced that large parts of the UK's National Health Service can be paralysed with a single mouse click.
We've made ourselves vulnerable. Technology is wonderful, et cetera, but.
I have mixed feelings about the revelation that ransoms were paid. Small price this time to get the data back, yes, but.
My constituent stardust was probably still pushing up daisies when King Charles I was executed (by people who at least took the Divine Right of Kings seriously as a political idea), and it clearly hadn't worked out wheat production by the time of the French Revolution. It's not difficult to come up with a list of other events that couldn't possibly happen - until they did. The lessons of history don't teach us how history works: there's a build-up to something that can't conceivably happen - then it happens. We stay sane by tracing back the causes to the point at which, oh, yeah, it was inevitable actually. For these reasons.
Just - those people in the past weren't as clear-sighted as we are, so they couldn't see it coming.
And we overlay that "understanding" onto the present. But the real lesson of history is: just as they couldn't see it coming, so we can't see it coming. And "it" isn't what we think it might be.
I find it easier to believe in the imminent collapse of Western civilisation than to believe that any single political leader can achieve anything. Make America great again. Save the NHS. Whatever Macron's on about - sorry, wasn't paying attention. They promise it, but they can't do it. Outside their office windows, there's no money for anything, infrastructures are collapsing, food banks are opening, political parties are promising to solve problems that they've been promising to solve since I was poking my finger into my grandmother's Energen Rolls in the kitchen of that flat in Kensington Church Street.
Outside my window, the leaves are moving in the wind. It's a grey morning in Falmouth. A white cruise ship arrived earlier. I walked out to Gyllingvase Beach first thing, and watched the water for a while. There are seagulls nesting on roofs, where nobody can see them.