Relationships still seem to be poisonous

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What a nerve. No sooner has one Beast from the East faded from the news than some sources suggest another might possibly have instigated the attempted murder of a Russian spy – in Salisbury of all places, writes John Taylor

Apparently with a “nerve agent”, which it seems would need state resources to manufacture and authorise, and not something your bog standard terrorist could knock up in his kitchen with standard ingredients.

But regarding attempted poisonings, there was nothing suspicious about the death of a poison gas expert Lewis Roberts, who at the age of 82 was found dead at his home in Deanshanger.

During his early life he lived in South Africa as a chemist, but during the Boer War became a military officer, responsible for the armoured train on which Winston Churchill was travelling. In fact he was given the job of providing the protective armour, but the train was captured when he was away at a naval base.

Eventually he came to England and during the First World War, because of his chemical expertise, was given responsibility for cylinders of poison gas. The contents could kill enemy troops as far as 20 miles away but the continuous handling affected his health and he was transferred to the meteorological side.

After the war he returned to chemistry and in retirement lived at Deanshanger. Nowadays the Cold War is supposedly over. Yet nevertheless it seems that relations are still rather frosty – indeed an icy and poisonous climate, of double agents and nerve gas agents.