If I was planning to invade Russia with a massive land army (Napoleon went in with 635,000 men and emerged with about 20,000) I would set off in the middle of winter.

“But zat is madness your Highness,” they would say. “Even the simplest peasant in from Bordeaux knows that Russia in winter is well below freezing. Zey will turn to ice. Zey will die like flies. It cannot be done…”

With a knowing smile I would calmly explain my plan: by setting off in winter everyone would make sure that not only were the men suitably attired; but they’d be well trained and we’d make damn sure we had the right supplies.

Not only would we be prepared for winter – we would learn from it and eventually master it, as the Finns did when their small force beat the Soviet Union’s massive invading army in 1940. It would give us time to deal with the myriad of unforeseen problems that would emerge, such as an effective defence when camping out in the frozen wilderness.

And we’d learn from the mistakes of previous invading dictators by not assuming the whole thing would have succeeded by the onset of winter.

And when the Spring came it would be met with such delight and relief that the whole army would get a morale boost. Onwards we would march, to Moscow and beyond…

My own winter campaign

Right now I’m in Brighton and it’s freezing. It’s not minus twenty but I wish it was, as then there would be no moisture in the air; dry cold makes me feel inspired and motivated while the damp cold of Britain is the worst.

The temperature hovers just above ten degrees Celsius and what makes it miserable is that it’s Spring and that means the heating is off. Are British Springs always so cold? (I don’t know, I’ve spent most of my life abroad). I’d rather be in a Russian snowdrift.

Moan, groan, grumble.

My plan for the rest of this year is to go to Bosnia and help re-publish an amazing book of posters that were produced during the Bosnian war (1992 to 1995). The book is called Evil Doesn’t Live Here and it was first published almost 20 years ago; but now it’s out of print and we want to make sure it gets into the hands of young Bosnians all over the world – as it’s an important part of their history and there’s a risk that this war will be forgotten as the Serb/Russian propaganda machine has never stopped pumping out alternative facts about what really happened there.

As soon as I get my second Covid-19 injection I plan to go to Bosnia and get all this organised, and hopefully I can get there in the summer when the weather in that part of the world is amazing; and get the whole project done and dusted before their continental (i.e. bloody freezing) winter sets in. If I do get stuck there next winter it won’t be too bad as they have dry cold rather than our insidious, soul-destroying damp version.

As soon as I post this I’m going on a weekend hike along the south coast, to the Romney Marshes which is a large chunk of wilderness between Brighton and Dover. My flatmate asked why I’m going camping when the weather forecast is bad and I said the only way to deal with shitty weather is walk into it. If you try and hide from it, as I’ve been doing all week, huddling over my laptop, it creeps up on you and gets into your bones. By walking all day you generate enough heat to stay warm in all weathers – even a Russian winter.

Let me know how you handle the weather in the comment box below. Even the smallest comment is most welcome. Lotsaluv, Rupert

Rupert Wolfe Murray
Latest posts by Rupert Wolfe Murray (see all)