Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Eleven one eleven

I'm refraining from writing this at eleven minutes past 11 this morning, because I'm not into the fashion for numerology which seems to fascinate some people on Facebook - who pointed out, for example, that today is 11.1.11. So what? I tend to think. Our calendar is not that significant - just a convenient way of recording events. But of course we are obsessed with clocks and dates in our culture. Punctuality pips even cleanliness to the post in our hierarchy of virtue. I sometimes think that we'd be a lot happier if we lived by "African time" or, as I'd prefer to call it, natural time. Chill out, guys!

2nd WW destroyer, ?HMS Paladin
That's all by the by.... Since they couldn't get to us for Christmas, Jane and I drove down to stay overnight with her parents in Devon - and a lovely time we had. 70 years ago, Jane's father signed up as a 19-year old recruit in the Navy. In the evening he told us some of his wartime experiences. His memories are very vivid. He began on the destroyer, HMS Paladin, in the Clyde and spent a lot of time on minesweepers in the Mediterranean. He'd be the first to say he was  just one among many. However naturally to us he's special and it's moving to listen to him.

Then we went on to meet up with most of my generation of Wenhams, in Bristol. We drove in through Clifton where there was a reminder of the saddest home news story of the Christmas period. Parked on the Green outside Christ Church was a police incident van and a number of police cars. It was a shock to see them on the green I'd frequented in my teenage years. I hope Jo Yeates' murderer is soon brought to justice.

And meanwhile on the other side of the world came the news of England's series' victory in the cricket tests, which assumed, in my opinion, disproportionate importance over the unfolding story of the flooding around Brisbane in Queensland. We have good friends on the outskirts of Brisbane. They are as yet among the fortunate ones who have escaped this year's devastation - although last year they were flooded. I came across a series of photos from the Brisbane Courier which give a great picture of the extent of the floods, for example one of a woman wading away from her abandoned 4-WD.

It occurs to me that news comes to life for us when we have personal connections in some way.


  1. News from Australia, Haiti and your comments on your father-in-law's experience makes one realise what a relatively sheltered existence we have. One of the members of Christ Church, our link church in Sheffield and a photographer who does work for Tearfund when not engaged in other work has just flown out to Haiti. His website is worth a look. Just btype Richard Hanson/Sheffield into a Google search and take a look. I am currently getting a great deal of pleasure from working with members of the Church Army that make a major contribution to the community of Pitsmoor that often gets a bad press. All the best for 2011. Rob

  2. Your blog is absolutely full of interest! We beat Australia by one run on the last ball of the match! I'm not yet 89 but Jane's father had echoes of my experiences - a friend once described me as a "war hero" - I roared with laughter and corrected him - "a war VETERAN" - then he graciously patted my shoulder and said "anyone who served in Burma to me was a war HERO!". And what's wrong with celebrating dates? Though with all the calendar changes over the years I puzzle over when actually did it happen? (Whatever it was).

  3. I'm not against celebrating dates per se, Brian - just phoney ones, though I'm sure 11th Jan 2011 will be the birthday for thousands, along with every day of every year until Kingdom come. But I'm happy with 21st October 1805, for example!

    Thanks for the link, Rob. I've been watching the news shots from Haiti today. Extraordinary faith in the midst of devastation.