OPINION - Ayesha Hazarika: WWIII is on the doorstep — and my anxiety levels are through the roof

Ayesha Hazarika (Daniel Hambury)
Ayesha Hazarika (Daniel Hambury)

I know we’re all meant to be cheering the end of Covid restrictions but the fact that we’re on the brink of World War Three has slightly killed the vibe. Although maybe Putin can get away with it if he only invades Ukraine for 25 minutes and says he didn’t realise it was an invasion. I hear the British Government is about to send him a questionnaire to fill out. And Conservative HQ may even take drastic steps and delay a couple of tennis matches between Cabinet ministers and the wives of oligarchs.

It is mad to think that London makes Ozark look tame when it comes to money laundering. Our stress is also much closer to home with the rising cost of living crisis. Forget a luxury holiday, if most people won the lottery, they’d settle for being able to pop on the central heating whenever they wanted and if there was anything left over, treat themselves (and their family) to a couple of boxes of lateral flow tests. That’s living the high life these days.

It’s hard to be optimistic when so many of us feel infuriated, frightened and exhausted from all the political, economic and social turmoil we’re living through. I did my usual focus group chat at my local hairdresser about the state of the nation when I was last having my roots done (we may be going to hell in a handcart, but those greys won’t cover themselves) and I asked people what they thought of the news and most said that thing were so bleak right now that they avoided watching or reading about it as much as possible because their anxiety levels were through the roof.

It does feel like we are getting battered on every front and so much of it seems beyond our control. After the years of political upheaval around Brexit, many hoped that things would settle and calm down after the 2019 election even though the result was not universally popular, especially here in the capital. But then came the pandemic which was like a wrecking ball to our lives. Now we are seeing the economic fallout of Covid, Brexit colliding with an energy crisis and rising inflation. It takes me back to the mid-Nineties and nightly news reports of rising interest rates and negative equity which feels a long way off now given where the housing market is, but those who remember that time will not have fond memories.

Our collective social media addiction and all the division, fighting and reducing every part of our existence into a raging culture war isn’t helping either. It seemed fitting that last week, we then got physically battered by storms — although there was a silver lining in that we all got to watch Big Jet TV, which kind of summed up where things are.

But the thing which compounds all this stress and fear is our political leadership — not just at home but on an international stage. I am sick of seeing lots of universally weird men giving it the big one about war. The optics are incredibly frightening, especially seeing Putin sat at ominously long tables — although it’s good to see someone still cares about social distancing. It would be nice to see some serious women at the table right now. Bring back Angela Merkel.

In other news...

One woman who has entered the fray on Ukraine and Russia is rapper Cardi B — and she seems to agree with me. She has declared “the world is in crisis” and “leaders need to stop tripping about power”, adding: “I’m not really on Nato’s side, I’m not on Russia’s side, I’m actually on the citizens’ side.”

Cardi B is no stranger to politics and has interviewed Joe Biden and used her following to encourage people to vote. The rapper has even talked about running for office — “I do feel like if I go back to school and focus up I can be part of Congress. I have sooo much ideas that make sense. I just need a couple of years at school and I can shake the table.”

I would pay good money to see her take on Putin. Especially flanked by Megan Thee Stallion. Surely an appearance on Question Time beckons?

Are you feeling anxious about the Russia-Ukraine crisis? Let us know in the comments below.