Observing the tragic events in Ukraine, many of us would feel an urge some kind of a gesture, however small, to show solidarity with those in the firing line. Short of following initial advice from the foreign secretary and taking up arms as a mercenary, there are still a number of other worthwhile options.
Many of us will worry that adopting a traumatised family is taking a step too far. Instead, making a donation to the Disasters Emergency Committee or another support charity should be on everyone’s agenda.
Whether it is a British trait or not, the next step appears to be entirely negative. We all seem much happier in attacking Russians rather than supporting Ukrainians.
At governmental level, this can sometimes appear almost farcical were it not so sad. When it comes to the arts, there is also an element of comedy when a Welsh company decides to ban Tchaikovsky, hardly representative of the Putin era or even that of the Soviets.
The irony is that having spoken to a number of friends, few of us have any idea of who hails from the Ukraine or from Russia. This means that there is a distinct danger of banning a Ukrainian cultural icon in the mistaken belief that he or she must have been Russian because they have a funny name.
The question I asked and which I did not know the answer was the names of three famous Ukrainians. The answer in every case was silence. I may have been embarrassingly ignorant but the Internet was not.
As a result, in recent weeks my entertainment sphere has been taken up by a glorious trio of greats, not to mention some other fine artistes who are less well known on this side of what used to be the Iron Curtain.
Having written last week about the lack of comedy on the London stage, it would be wonderful if an enterprising producer chose to revive The Government Inspector. Not only is this a truly hilarious comedy but Nikolay Gogol just happens to hail from Kyiv. His short stories are also a real treat that will literally make you laugh out loud.
Anyone who has read The Master and Margarita will have enjoyed an unforgettable experience and many would rank it amongst the top few novels that they have ever had the good fortune to read.
Mikhail Bulgakov was also born in Kyiv and, beyond his novels and short stories, he was also an adept playwright as anybody who remembers Howard Davies’s compelling production of The White Guard (originally The Day of the Turbins) at the National Theatre a dozen years ago can confirm.
In addition, every few years someone chooses to adapt The Master and Margarita, though it is inevitably very hard to depict a precursor to magic realism on a stage. Perhaps the pick of recent productions was that from Simon McBurney and Complicite, which made a couple of visits to the Barbican a decade ago.
When it comes to music, incorporating ballet and opera, the undoubted star is Sergei Prokofiev. For those of us who love the performing arts, the first piece that springs to mind is the ballet Romeo and Juliet, with opera lovers possibly opting for something like The Love of Three Oranges.
While on the music front, it is worth pointing out that there are some exceptionally fine recordings of his work and that of other Ukrainians by the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine and also its sister company from Lviv.
Fewer contemporary Ukrainians have so far leapt to fame, although pianist Valentina Lisitska together with novelists Andrey Kurkov and Marina Lewycka will be known to some and should be familiar to far more.
Many on both sides of the Atlantic will also have antecedents from the benighted country. This becomes apparent when you remember that one of the most significant artworks centring on Ukraine in the last couple of decades is Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is Illuminated, originally a novel and subsequently transformed into both a film and a play.
If readers can suggest other Ukrainian cultural avenues to explore, many of us would be very grateful.