As TS Eliot wrote in his poem “The Waste Land”, “April is the cruellest month”. I say this not just because this week is the start of the UK tax year, but also because the centenary of what was one of the 20th century’s most important poems is being celebrated in London’s financial centre from this Thursday with a festival across 22 City churches.
It is hard to be optimistic about world events at the moment. What will happen in Ukraine? That’s impossible to predict. But there will be a lot more meetings, firstly between foreign ministers of the member states of Nato, which by coincidence commemorates its 73rd birthday this Monday. There will also be a gathering of EU finance ministers for the Ecofin conference, whose agenda includes trying to assess the economic impact of the conflict.
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky continues his (virtual) tour of western parliaments to rally support — this week addressing the elected chambers of Dublin and Athens. Another coincidental anniversary: this Thursday is the seventh anniversary of the declaration of the Donetsk People’s Republic as a breakaway region from Ukraine.
Are there any reasons to be cheerful? Well, there will be some firsts for space travel this week. On Monday, Nasa will hold a press conference to discuss the final test stages — called a “wet dress rehearsal” — for its Artemis 1 rocket. The Artemis programme aims to return astronauts to the Moon and establish a long-term lunar colony as a precursor to human exploration of Mars.
Then on Wednesday, Axiom (or Ax-1), the first all-private astronaut rocket mission to the International Space Station, is due to launch from Nasa’s Kennedy space centre in Florida.
As the week draws to a close, democracy in western Europe will be in the spotlight with the first round of voting in the French presidential election on Sunday.
Not so long ago it could be said that none of the 11 challengers looked close to unseating incumbent Emmanuel Macron, but he now warns that he could lose the election to the far right. The fear is that Macron’s overwhelming success in the polls will foster voter apathy and a festering disillusionment with centrist politicians, as this Big Read explains.
Read the full week ahead calendar here