WHAT a desperately sad end to a life.

Poor Dawn Sturgess, “a gentle soul” according to her friends, a mother-of-three whose world couldn’t have been further away from the murky machinations of international espionage.

Yet somehow she fell victim to what we presume to be a Russian assassin’s almost amateurish carelessness.

And her partner Charlie Rowley, lying seriously ill in hospital. Fortunately there are signs that he may be on the mend, though how one truly ‘gets over’ something like this I have no idea.

Our NHS staff and emergency services, permanently undermanned and under continuing stress from the Skripal investigation, are now having to stretch themselves still further.

As are the Wiltshire Council team working to stop the economic lifeblood of Salisbury and Amesbury draining away, while businesses suffer from more road closures and cordons, and potential visitors and local shoppers alike make up their minds to steer clear and enjoy the sun.

What really brought it home to me was driving past the sweltering police officers standing guard every few metres round the perimeter of our lovely Lizzie Gardens, where mums and toddlers should be picnicking and splashing in the stream, and children cooling off after school.

All of this has knock-on effects for the surrounding communities that look to the city as their workplace, their commercial and social centre.

Wiltshire’s leader Baroness Scott has paid tribute to the resilience and determination of residents in the face of such adversity.

She did it again on Tuesday, at the start of a council meeting up in Trowbridge, where unfortunately there weren’t too many people from round here to hear her.

I heard her, though, on the webcast. She had correctly interpreted the public’s mood.

And it was good to see her at the public meeting in Amesbury later.

Most people I’ve spoken to take the practical view that we don’t have any choice but to put up with the disruption and try to work round it.

They wonder, sure, about where this Novichok surfaced, but they’re not telling me they’re worried for their own safety going forward.

They’re astonished that a supposedly professional killer would leave something like this lying around to be randomly discovered rather than disposing of it where it would never surface again.

They’re reassured by the visible signs of just how seriously the authorities are taking the situation.

But more people are talking about football than nerve agent.

And the risk of being poisoned certainly hasn’t been keeping the lads away from the World Cup screens in city centre pubs.

Even if I hadn’t had the male members of the family yelling their heads off in front of the telly, I wouldn’t have had to watch the England games to know the scores.

Retreating to my back garden with a glass of wine, I could hear every collective cheer and groan all the way across the meadows.

Strange times.