FORTUNATELY, Salisbury folk are following official advice to ‘keep calm and carry on’ in the wake of the Russian spy affair.

I say fortunately, because I don’t want an outbreak of mass panic on my conscience after I share my thoughts with you this week.

And something I see clearly now in the aftermath of the Russian spy attack is how vulnerable we all are.

Just a couple of dozen anonymous-looking blokes, each carrying a concealed aerosol spray of some noxious stuff, could stroll simultaneously through a couple of dozen towns and cities and with one squirt each at a few random passers-by, tie up all the resources of our depleted emergency services within five minutes.

Shopping centres would be closed, there’d be pandemonium on the streets.

And as for our already overstretched hospitals, it doesn’t bear thinking about.

A hostile power could bring the nation to its knees without a shot being fired or a bomb being dropped, let alone a declaration of war.

And even once our leaders figured out what was going on, I don’t believe they’d be able to protect us. Look how long it’s taken to understand and respond to what happened in this (fingers crossed) isolated incident.

I’m sure Britain has the resources to retaliate against such vile acts in similar fashion overseas.

Those resources are probably stored somewhere not very far away at all from our city.

But that wouldn’t help you or me, would it?

The deterrent effect of mutually assured destruction (abbreviated to MAD, appropriately) clearly isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It depends on your enemy sharing your basic world view that mass murder is unthinkable.

I wouldn’t bet on that, and I’m sure those poor Syrian victims of poison gas in Eastern Ghouta wouldn’t, either.

On Sunday night under cover of darkness there were large numbers of vehicles proceeding in the direction of Porton Down.

A friend out driving with her husband sent me a spooky video, taken on her phone, of a convoy of lorries, all flashing lights, transporting potentially contaminated police cars. “This is like history,” she remarked in a stunned tone, and she wasn’t wrong.

It’s like living in a science fiction novel, and whoever carried out this attack could presumably have more of this Novichok (sounds like a particularly unappetising brand of Soviet-era confectionery) knocking about. No reason why they’d have used up every last drop.

We don’t know whether they are still in this country, and we must just hope not.

“We are not going to give a running commentary” is a phrase I’ve heard used on several occasions recently by spokespersons for government departments when what they actually mean is: “Clear off you lot, we wouldn’t tell you even if we knew.”

Maybe that’s fair in circumstances where lives remain in the balance and the perpetrator is still at large.

For the rest of us, the extraordinary is becoming the ordinary. Every day we pop to the shops we get more accustomed to all the hoo-ha surrounding us.

And even in these grim times, we have to look on the bright side. What made me smile was the Wiltshire Council traffic warden busily distributing parking tickets to the assembled vehicles of the world’s media outside Town Tesco. Bonanza!

Life goes on, as they say.