HOW do you start your day in these dark times? Do you turn the radio on straight away to hear the latest news from Ukraine? Or do you tune away to avoid it?

If I’m honest, I swither between the two, toggling between engagement and evasion. Each morning I wake up to the peace and quiet of a central Scottish morning and imagine what kind of night the people of Kyiv and Mariupol have had. And then thank my lucky stars and turn on 6 Music.

But on Tuesday evening I did listen to Ukraine: The People’s Story (File on 4, Radio 4), a collection of audio diaries recorded by Ukrainians in these first weeks of the Russian invasion.

What emerges is a tapestry of air raid sirens, explosions and fear as pregnant women, film directors turned soldiers and trapped citizens tell their own stories.

Like the make-up artist who suddenly finds herself holding a weapon. “I hope that I won’t use it at all,” she admits. “It’s an AK-74. Boys say it is like your girlfriend. You sleep with your gun.”

Another woman, Marina, records her audio diary as her six-year-old son watches cartoons on TV after a night of bombing. She lives in Dublin, but she was visiting her mum in Kharkiv when the fighting began. Now she is caught between staying and going and not knowing what’s best.

Days pass. Lives and buildings are destroyed, memory and history torn up. Marina and her son do get back to Dublin eventually. She is one of the lucky ones.

And the bombs keep falling

Back to the music. There was a time when Led Zeppelin were the enemy to any right-thinking post-punk music fan. Them and Pink Floyd. I’ve slightly softened towards the Floyd over the years (with the emphasis on “slightly”) but Led Zepp remain beyond the pale. The ultimate example of c*** rock.

Which is a pity because I do accept the riff on Kashmir is a tune. Plus, Robert Plant seems a decent sort. He turned up on Desert Island Discs last Sunday to talk about his salad years which, he seemed to suggest, were not quite as wild as legend (or at least Stephen Davis’s unauthorised biography Hammer of the Gods) would suggest.

“A lot of it was incredible exaggeration,” Plant explained.

As befits a man now in his eighth decade, Plant didn’t dwell on the excess. Rather, he was drawn to stories of his black country upbringing and his early reticence onstage. He played his first gig in 1963. “I was very nervous and didn’t look at the audience at all,” he said. “Not until about 1968.”

There was tragedy too. The death of his five-year-old son and the death of Zepp’s John Bonham. “I drove down with him on the day of the rehearsal, and I drove back without him,” Plant said simply. How do you deal with this stuff? "Time is time," he simply said.

At one point Plant said he considered quitting the band and becoming a teacher. No doubt someone is already working on the counterfactual novel where that actually happened. Stairway to Homework? When the Lavvy Breaks?

I’ll get my coat.

Listen Out For: Cold as a Mountain Top (Radio 4, tomorrow, 4.30pm). The doyen of contemporary nature writers Robert Macfarlane climbs Buachaille Etive Mor with the aid of WH Murray’s book Mountaineering in Scotland.