Year of the Rabbit

6 02 2011

Run, rabbit run/dig that hole/forget the sun/and when at last your work is done/don’t sit down/its time to dig another one

Well, January just disappeared on me and now I find myself six days into February. As I missed uploading a New Year 2011 post in January, I am going to make up for it by posting a Chinese New Year epistle for February instead. So, welcome in the Year of the Rabbit! Not just any rabbit, but a metal rabbit at that. Wicked. Though what I think of when ‘metal’ and ‘rabbit’ are mentioned in the same breath (left) is most certainly not what the Chinese intended.

According to the Chinese, the Year of the Rabbit promises to bring a more placid year after a frenetic Year of the Tiger. Diplomatic bunny hops instead of roaring fits and starts – the eyes of the rabbit are apparently more gracious and amiable than those of the tiger. Considering the current state of worldly affairs a more placid and considered year wouldn’t go amiss. I certainly have plans, goals and resolutions to accomplish this year. I’ve updated the Resolutions page to reflect some of these – I am sure that posts of the subject will appear during the year.

There is also plenty to look forward to this year. Last year I posted a list of events that I was looking forward to in 2010 – of those the Football World Cup in South Africa was a standout for me. After 28 years away from this competition New Zealand acquitted themselves with style and came out of it the only team to remain undefeated by securing three draws, including one against Italy. The All Whites’ result was exceptional considering their rather modest world ranking and that we don’t have our own professional league (only a solitary professional team). Looking ahead to the rest of 2011 there are three events in particular that I am looking forward to – two of these are general events, while the third is more personal.

  • The Royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton (April). I wasn’t around for the nuptials between Prince Charles and Diana so this will be the first really big Royal wedding that I will be able to celebrate. I also have a soft spot for William (no, not for those reasons). Being of the same age I’ve kinda grown up with him over the years and it’s really pleasing to see him tie the knot with Kate. I’ll be watching the wedding on telly or I’ll be standing in the Mall, or maybe I’ll do both (unless by some chance I receive an invitation, though I’m not holding my breath). I may even hold a party with bunting, tea, scones and as much naff Royal and English paraphernalia as I can find.
  • The Rugby World Cup, New Zealand (September – October). I love rugby, it is just that simple. I actually love watching most sports, this weekend was especially good in that regards as both the Six Nations started and the Super Bowl will be kicking off later tonight. However, rugby union is a particular favourite of mine. I’m also looking forward to it being held back in Aotearoa. I’m backing the ‘Blacks to go all the way, beating the Wallabies 24-31 in the final.
  • Returning to New Zealand for my Grandma’s 100th birthday (August). I haven’t written about my Grandma before, but she is easily the most awesome of all awesome people…ever. This August she will celebrate 100 years on this planet, which is a length of time that I just can’t quite fathom. So much has happened during her lifetime that it just boggles the mind. Needless to say the holiday back to NZ this year is beyond special. Expect more on this later in the year!




Wellington (Part Two)

30 01 2011

Wellington isn’t just the political capital of New Zealand – it is the café-loving, artistic capital of the country. After my last post, which focused on its more political and practical aspects, this post is dedicated to some of my favourite artistic aspects of the city, starting with its waterfront.

The Wellington waterfront is in its own right a piece of art. Centuries of the earth’s sculpting meld and give way to man’s more recent contributions. It is a fitting backdrop for the Wellington Writers’ Walk and other works of art that follow the shoreline. The Wellington Writers’ Walk consists of nineteen excerpts from New Zealand authors that are either about Wellington or have a connection with the city. These excerpts are scattered along the waterfront on benchmarks and large concrete slabs and form a walk that aims to promote New Zealand literature to the wider national and international audience. I loved this walk – it was like a lyrical scavenger hunt, searching for the next slab or bench and reading its excerpt. The quotes interspersed in this post were all taken from the walk, the photo (left) is of Denis Glover’s excerpt.

The harbour is an ironing board/flat iron tugs dash smoothing toward/any shirt of a ship any pillowslip/of a freighter they decree/must be ironed flat as washing from the sea (Denis Glover)

Along the waterfront and behind Te Papa is Solace in the Wind, a sculpture by Max Patte (right). Standing at two metres high, it is of a man leaning forward into the cross-gale wind with his arms back and a look of consolation on his face. Wellington is a windy city – gale force winds are not uncommon and umbrellas are rarely, if ever, used (they normally end up inside-out and useless, tossed into the nearest rubbish bin). Most Wellingtonians are so accustomed to gale strength winds that if you were to ask them to describe the strength of the wind when it was blowin’ a gale, they would reply with something like “just a bit of a breeze, mate” – meanwhile you watch the laundry escape from the washing line (despite multiple peggings) and make a bid for freedom. There have been moments while absent from the capital where I have missed its wind – there is something both reassuring and (paradoxically) calming about it, even when it was trying to blow you over. Perhaps that was why I felt a sense of affinity with this statue. 

Their heads bent, their legs just touching, they stride like one eager person through the town, down the asphalt zigzag where the fennel grows wild…the wind is so strong that they have to fight their way through it, rocking like two old drunkards (Katherine Mansfield)

Between the harbour and CBD is the City to Sea Bridge. More than just an ambulatory path into the CBD, City to Sea is an interactive piece of art with sculptures by Para Matchitt of whales, birds, celestial representations and symbols of love. It has seats and various peepholes along the way, I particularly liked the bird that lies across the footpath with its large glass bottle eye (right). Heading towards the city end of the City to Sea Bridge is a Te Aho a Maui (Maui’s line). In Māori mythology Maui was responsible for fishing up the North Island (amongst other heroic exploits). This piece references that particular exploit and consists of waterfalls and a pyramid shaped mountain from which Maui’s line unravels in terra-cotta hues (left). At the CBD end of the bridge is Civic Square and suspended above it is Ferns, a spherical sculpture of fern fronds by Neil Dawson (right). The ferns in the orb balance the sculptures of nikau palms that are set as markers around the square. Whether lit up by the city’s lights, or gleaming under the beams of the sun, this sculpture has an ethereal quality. 

Then out of the tunnel and Wellington burst like a bomb it opened like a flower as lit up like a room, explained itself exactly, became the capital (Maurice Gee)

Another favourite is Wai-titi Landing, a sculpture of two Pou Whenua (Māori boundary markers) by Ra Vincent. Although the site is now a park on the corner of Molesworth Street, it used to be a beach and resting place for waka used by Te Atiawa and other Taranaki whanau. The carved figures on the Pou Whenua symbolise the people of the land while the kōwhai design carved on the inner surface represents the wairua (spirit of the land). 

Then it’s Wellington we’re coming to! It’s time, she says, it’s time surely for us to change lanes, change tongues they speak so differently down here (Vincent O’Sullivan)

Plimmer Steps is a pedestrian street between Lambton Quay and up to The Terrace. At the Lambton Quay end is a statue of John Plimmer (the eponymous gentleman of the Steps) who ambles down the path with his dog bouncing along beside him. This statue has been in Wellington for as long as I can remember and I really enjoy its sense of movement and camaraderie. On various days during my trip I noticed that the dog had been decked out in scarves and shoes. Sadly, these articles then seemed to disappear by the next day, although I did capture a shot of a be-shoed canine (left).

I love this city, the hills, the harbour, the wind that blasts through it. I love the life and pulse and activity, and the warm decrepitude…there’s always an edge here that one must walk which is sharp and precarious, requiring vigilance (Patricia Grace)

One very famous Wellingtonian is Peter Jackson, notably as the director of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Weta Workshop (the special effects and props company behind LOTR) is located in Miramar, Wellington and at the top of Courtney Place is Tripod, a sculpture by the company. Tripod is covered with paraphernalia of the film making business and the insane amount of detail on it is what makes it an especially awesome piece.

 

 

Yet I think, having used my words as the kings used gold, ere we came by the rustling jest of the paper kings, I who am overbold will be steadily bold, in the counted tale of things (Iris Guiver Wilkinson – pen name Robin Hyde)

Cuba Street is possibly my favourite street in the city; I loved living there before I left for the UK (despite some of the sounds that emanated from the karaoke at Blue Note on Sunday nights). Named after an 1840 settler ship, Cuba Street is an eclectic collection of businesses and pedestrians and has a bohemian feel to it. Midnight Espresso, one of my favouritest cafés, is situated on upper Cuba. It has a typically Cuba heterogeneous mix of customers and serves excellent coffee topped with an awesome menu. The final installment of Wellington art for this post is one that I am especially fond of and can be found further along Cuba Street: it is perhaps the most naff, but most endearing, sculpture in city. The Bucket Fountain was designed by Burren and Keen in 1969 and consists of a series of primary coloured buckets which collect water until they are forced to tip into a large blue bucket at the bottom which in turn empties into a pool beneath it. Well, in theory it empties into the pool beneath it, but due to the Wellington wind it is not uncommon to get sprayed on windy days by falling water from these buckets. The sculpture has a very child-like quality to it, an adjacent child’s slide and clime-able tuatara add to its sense of frivolity. The fountain’s lack of seriousness is perhaps what makes fit so well in its surroundings. Running through the garden sprinklers is one of childhood’s small pleasures, dodging the Bucket Fountain on a windy day is the grown-up equivalent of that pastime.

It’s true you can’t live here by chance, you have to do and be, not simply watch or even describe. This is the city of action, the world headquarters of the verb (Lauris Edmond)

 

I have uploaded more photos onto Flickr – so feel free to check them out!





Wellington (Part One)

19 01 2011

Salutations and welcome to the first post of 2011! I hope that this year has started well for you all. Apologies for the delay in posting my first epistle of the year, however I can report that this year I have resolved to post on a much more frequent basis. I also have plans for this blog – here’s to the year of shininglikeadiamond!

Text from Maurice GeeAs I wrote in Hijacking Rainbows and Christmas 2010, I journeyed to New Zealand in December where I spent time back in Wellington with family and friends.  This and the next post were inspired by the trip back home and the opportunity I had to re-visit some of my favourite things in my favourite city with renewed eyes after two and a half years away. 

Wellington is absolutely, positively the best little city in the world.  It sits nestled between hills and harbour and has a vibrant mix of suit-and-tie CBD and tie-dyed bohemia.  About a 30 minute drive north from Wellington is Porirua, which is a city in its own right and part of the greater Wellington region.  I have fond memories of growing up in and around Porirua.  Over the years I moved a little further south to Tawa, one of the outer suburbs of Wellington.  During this time Wellington Railway Station became a daily destination for me as I travelled in and out of the capital for school, then university and finally work. I became accustomed to the station’s nuances, nooks and crannies and in the end I came to really enjoy passing through it on my daily commute. As the station is such an integral part of the city, and since I have spent a fair bit of time passing through the building, it seemed somewhat fitting Wellington Railway Station was the first of my favourite things. 

Wellington Railway Station is, as far as railway stations go, an attractive building.  It was completed in 1937 and was at that time the largest building in the country; it is currently New Zealand’s busiest station.  The façade of the building reminds me somewhat of the clock tower in Back to the Future, which may add to its coolness factor.  The station even has a claim to international fame – it was used in an advertisement for thetrainline.com (the one with all the sheep).  I find this amusing as 1) they have used a New Zealand station to advertise travel solutions for within the UK and that 2) they have filled it with sheep. 

Next to the station is Westpac Stadium (right).  The stadium was built in 1999 and its yellow seats are visible from the plane as you fly into Wellington (the city’s colours are yellow and black).  I have been to many a rugby game at the stadium and also the odd concert.  While I have a strong attachment to the old Athletic Park, the stadium still makes it as one of my favourite places in the city.  I have dearly missed attending the Lions, Hurricanes and All Black games that have been played there while I have been in the UK.

Outside the front of Wellington Railway Station is one of a series of signs that can be found around the city.  These signs use a three-dimensional image as visual embellishment.  Wellington Railway Station’s sign (left) has a train on it, while the sign for Bunny Street has a Buzzy Bee and the sign for Cable Car Lane has a cable car (both below).  I reckon these signs are pretty awesome, they are certainly more enjoyable than your average street sign. I made a point of taking a photo of each during my expeditions to the city.  These signs also point the way to my next two favourite Wellington things for this post: the parliamentary grounds and cable car. 

As a Wellington Girls’ College student, one of the routes to school took me past the Beehive.  This was my preferred route to school – in part because it took longer, but also because I enjoyed the parliamentary scenery.  New Zealand’s parliamentary buildings consist of the Beehive (right), Parliament House, Parliamentary Library and Bowen House (which is across the road).  The Beehive is probably the most iconic of the buildings and its nickname clarifies why the sign on Bunny Street (right)  has a Buzzy Bee on it and not a rabbit.  The reason for a Buzzy Bee in particular (as opposed to a common garden bee) is that the Buzzy Bee is an absolutely iconic Kiwi childhood toy (I had one growing up).  When Charles and Diana visited with baby William in 1983 one of the photos from that tour was of them and William on the lawn of Government House (Auckland) with a Buzzy Bee.  I imagine that if the Buzzy Bee did not exist (and what kind of world would that be?!) that William would have received a toy sheep instead.  The parliamentary grounds are also a favourite spot for lunching Wellingtonians on warmer, dryer days.  I’ve spent more than one lunch time lying under the trees there. The photo (right) is my particular, favourite spot: warm but with enouigh shade to avoid the worst of the Kiwi sun.

The Cable Car is the last of my favourite things for this post.  It is one Wellington oldest tourist attractions and an icon of the city.  It runs between Lambton Quay and the Wellington Botanic Gardens, stopping at The Terrace, Kelburn Park and Victoria University on the way.  During my first year at Victoria University, I used the cable car on a near daily basis to get to lectures.  There is a good reason why the Cable Car is a tourist attraction. Aside from the history of it, the views from the top are stunning.  If there is one thing about Wellington that I love, it is that no matter the weather – no matter how skin-scorching the sun is, or how knock-you-over strong the southerly wind blows – the view of the city and its harbour always take my breath away.  The city’s landscape has a blend of rugged and tamed that makes it indescribably beautiful.  There is a saying amongst Wellingtonians: “you can’t beat Wellington on a good day.”  In truth, you can’t beat Wellington on a bad day either.





Christmas 2010

27 12 2010

The Christmas holidays is a time of year that is inextricably linked with the cooking (yay!) and then eating (hurrah!) of food.  This year I was fortunate enough to be able to travel back to the land of All Blacks and Hobbits where I celebrated the festive season with my kiwi family and friends.  Unlike Christmas 2009 I wasn’t responsible for a full multi-course meal, however I did spend some time in the kitchen cooking.

The cooking started at my friend Cat‘s house with a group of us and an all day Bake-a-Rama. The goal was to create a treasure chest of treats that could be brought out when required for visitors during the Christmas holidays.  After the measuring, sifting, mixing and baking Cat’s kitchen table was flooded with dozens (and dozens and dozens) of cookies. Clockwise from the top we created the following:

Gingerbread Cookies
White Chocolate and Strawberry Cookies
Dark Chocolate and Apricot Cookies
Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles
Passionfruit Melting Moments (still to be iced)
Shortbread
Cathedral Cookies
Iced Spice Cookies
Iced Sugar Cookies

 

A Caramel Fruit Cake was then also added to the booty of culinary treasures:

Needless to say, visitors to Cat’s house have had a selection of baked goodness to choose from while having their cuppa tea.

More time was spent in the kitchen on Christmas Day where I cooked breakfast and then dinner for my brother and his young family.  Since I was spending Christmas with small children I knew that the big day would start early…which meant that I had to start even earlier.  I set my alarm on Christmas Eve and by 0630 on Christmas Day I was up and about cooking the pancakes, moving around the kitchen extremely quietly so as to not wake the smaller members of the household.  I finished the double batch of batter just before the small ones invaded the lounge and the carnage that is a children’s Christmas started.

Once the carnage had ended and the little ones were out visiting the Grandparents I started on a batch of Delia Smith’s Vegetarian ‘Sausage’ Rolls (the same recipe that I used last year) and the Christmas dinner.  As I mentioned in the Christmas 2009 post, a roast Christmas dinner is a tradition in our family.  This year I opted to not do a full roast and instead settled on a smaller cut of cow for the family which I served with roasties, fresh peas, maple-glazed baby carrots and onion and mushroom gravy.  I reckon the peas and carrots were the best bit, especially the peas.  I love fresh peas, I even love shelling them, bizarre but true.

Being able to spend this festive season with family and friends that I haven’t seen for over two years has made Christmas 2010 just that little bit more special.  I hope that this festive season was just as enjoyable for you as well.

See you in the new year,

Lizzie

x





Hijacking Rainbows

8 12 2010

Who says you can’t go home?/There’s only one place they call me one of their own/I’m just a hometown boy, born a rollin’ stone/Who says you can’t go home?/Who says you can’t go back?/Been all around the world and as a matter of fact/There’s only one place left I want to go/Who says you can’t go home?

Rewind to the last Friday of January 2008 and I was sitting in Wellington Airport waiting to board a domestic flight to Christchurch.  There was one reason, and one reason only, for this trip and that was to see Bon Jovi perform at AMI Stadium on the following Monday night.  As I mentioned in this post I am bit of a fan of the boys from New Jersey.  In that post I described the Christchurch gig as a

glorious mix of good company, good live music and a gorgeous late summer evening

That particular weekend was one of those magical moments of serendipity.  I had decided to make a proper mini-break of the experience and planned to spend the whole weekend in Christchurch.  I had booked an early morning flight on that Friday and was sitting in my seat on the plane, about to buckle myself in, when looking up I spotted Cat sitting one row in front of me but in the other aisle.  Cat is one of my best friends, however at that point I hadn’t seen her for a couple of years – I certainly didn’t expect to see her sitting on this plane.  I forgot about my seat belt and reaching forward I tapped her on the shoulder “Cat?” I asked “Oh my god, Lizzie?” came the surprised response.  It turned out that not only did Cat have tickets to Bon Jovi but that her tickets were for the same area as my ticket.  In the end I had an awesome weekend catching up and rockin’ out with a fellow rock chick.  The entire weekend ended up being that little bit more special than it would’ve otherwise been due to that chance meeting.

Fast forward a few months later and I found myself once again sitting in Wellington Airport, this time waiting to board an international flight for London on a one way ticket.  Fast forward even further to June this year and I received the following message from Cat

hey so Bon Jovi are playing Wellington on December 4th – totally an excuse to come back and visit NZ!! If you’re keen, we have a spare room…

I thought about it, but not for that long (Bon Jovi? Wellington? Home? a chance to catch up with family?).  I responded with

re: Bon Jovi – you’re on

That conversation started a series of events which resulted with me sitting in Heathrow Airport on Monday 29 November waiting to board an international flight back home to Wellington, New Zealand.

Yes readers, I did fly half way around the world for Bon Jovi.

And for my family and friends.

Most importantly for family and friends.

But also for Bon Jovi.

The concert itself was excellent.  I revelled in the fact that I was sitting in Westpac Stadium next to my brother and best friend (and even near my cousin who turned out was not far from us) waiting for the show to start .  It was felt both surreal to be back in Wellington but at the same time it also felt like I had never left.  Particular highlights for me was the nod to various Kiwis in the video for Born to Follow and Jon’s tribute to the Pike River Miners – the latter was especially appreciated.  The encore of Wanted was also wicked cool and the inclusion of Who says you can’t go home also stuck a personal note with me.  All in all, it was well worth the 26 hour flight from London.

It doesn’t matter where you are, doesn’t matter where you go/If it’s a million miles away or just a mile up the road/Take it in, take it with you when you go/Who says you can’t go home?

Set list: blood on blood/we weren’t born to follow/you give love a bad name/born to be my baby/lost highway/whole lot of leavin’/when we were beautiful/it’s my life/I’ll sleep when I’m dead/we got it goin’ on/bad medicine (with pretty woman)/lay your hands on me/what do you got?/I’ll be there for you/work for the working man/raise your hands/runaway/who says you can’t go home/keep the faith Encore: wanted dead or alive/livin’ on a prayer





Lizzie meets an Angel

8 10 2010

The following is an account of what happened to me this Monday (4th October).  It was a timely reminder that there are people of grace and kindness all around us, even if there are times when we can’t see them for the crowds that surround us. 

Monday started early, I had a lot to do (even for a Monday) and there was a Tube strike to contend with and work around.  I thought I had arrived early enough at the Regent Street bus stop to miss the crush of people who would normally catch the tube to work but had opted (like me) to try their luck with the buses instead.  It didn’t take long before I realised that I had underestimated the situation.  Fearing that it was now or never, I managed to squeeze onto the third number 23 bus which stopped at Regent Street.  Relieved to be on my way, I found a spot on the floor near my feet for my backpack and grocery bag and tried to make myself as comfortable as possible amidst the crowd of Monday morning commuters.  Everything was fine for the first 30 minutes or so and then I began to feel unwell.

Pull yourself together girl

I tried telling myself

You’ll be fine

No such luck.  I began to feel as if I were no longer welcome in my own body and the bus around me began to change into a tunnel.  I awoke in the door well, lying on my back with an angelic commuter (there is no other way to describe her) holding my hand in both of hers, reassuring me that I’d be alright.  Confusion morphed into realisation as I slowly figured out what must have happened.  I felt something metallic under my head 

I must have hit my head when I landed

It was the first coherent thought that I could manage.  Shock began to set in and I felt my body start to tremble slightly.  The raw emotion of the past week (which I had done so well to mask up until that point) mixed with the shock and formed a tidal wave under which I felt overwhelmed

You’ll be alright

Reassured my Angel.  I felt tears began to warm my eyes and then slide down my cheeks.  I gripped her hand a little tighter.  The bus driver arrived at the back door

You alright love?

Someone told him what had happened, that I’d hit my head.  I felt unable to speak.

Should I call an ambulance?

I wasn’t sure, but I felt that right now wasn’t the time to be stoic.  I wasn’t the right person to assess whether or not I’d hurt myself.

Yeah, maybe, yes.

I managed to get out those three words out, though they felt strange and like someone else was talking.  The other commuters began to file off the bus as an ambulance was called.  I felt like a bizarre specimen in a science lab which everyone glances at but doesn’t want to be seen to have done so.  The bus driver reappeared at the back door.  My Angel remained by my side, holding my hand.  Not sure where to look, my let my gaze flit from my Angel, to my abdomen (watching as I breathed in and out, I was wearing red, my power colour), to the commuters as they left the bus.  A police officer who was passing by stopped and asked the driver what had happened.  He bent down to talk to me.

What’s your name?

Liz

You fell?

Yeah

Even though I was still collecting myself  (I could only now feel blood tingling back into my fingers), I was beginning to feel stubbornly frustrated that I was only able to manage monosyllabic answers.

You two travelling together?

This time the question was directed at my Angel.  It occurred to me that I didn’t know where she had come from.  I couldn’t recall seeing her on the bus. 

No, I was walking by and I saw her fall

Her slight eastern european accent began to filter through, I noticed for the first time her ringlets of strawberry blonde hair and realised that the look of concern which I had first noticed about her hadn’t left her face.  I felt more tears slid down and drop onto my shoulders.  I heard the bus driver’s London accent again

They asked me how old you were

He waited for effect

I said 40

I felt a giggle escape from my body and then a smile.  I could hear sirens in the background.

Sirens? I get sirens?

The thought puzzled me and the moment felt immeasurably surreal.  I had heard plenty of sirens during my time  in London.  I never thought I’d hear them ringing through the city for me.  The police officer remarked

I think these are for you

Before adding with a reassuring smile

You’re getting well looked after – Police, Ambulance…

The ambulance arrived and one of the medics looked me over. All the while my Angel remained by my side, the last commuter left on the bus. 

You’re going to survive, we’ll just take you to the ambulance for a couple of small tests

She followed just behind me as I slowly made my to the ambulance.  I stopped at the ambulance door

Thank you

Those words seemed horribly inadequate

I wouldn’t have left you

Was her reply, her reassurance that I would have never had to pass through that moment in my life alone.  I felt tears prick my eyes again.  I had not before experienced such grace and kindness from a complete stranger.  I felt humbled by it.  Words failed me and it was the best I could do to say

Thank you.





Lizzie returns and the Battle of Britain

1 10 2010

Almost three months gone and no post…holy blogosphere Batman! But seriously, that is a long time between drinks. Rest assured that the silence on the blogging front wasn’t for a lack of material, but rather it was a lack of machinery that left me stranded in the blogging wilderness. After seven years my much-loved laptop is finally on its last legs. Until my last encounter with it I wasn’t actually aware that you could get the blue-screen-of-death so many times in a row. After the fourth blue-out I began to engage in that futile talk one feels they need to have with an uncooperative computer “Come on laptop, you’re overheated and so am I…either you start up, or blow up, which do you prefer?” While it didn’t blow up, it is now resting in a state of retirement.

Anyway, back to the business of blogging. Much has happened in the world of Lizzie. Some of the escapades, trails & tribulations of the past twelve weeks were enjoyable and others weren’t so much – some may end up as posts, while others are unlikely to become posting material.* However this post is one that I’ve been thinking about for a couple of weeks and it would be remiss of me to let the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain to go by without commenting on it.

Seventy years ago the Blitz was raining down on London while the Battle of Britain was being waged in the clear late summer skies over the city and south-east of England.  I was twelve during the 55th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and I developed an all-consuming interest in it.  This interest had been sparked by the movie (starring Laurence Olivier amongst others in a stellar cast).  When my Form Two teacher, Mr Sullivan, asked the class to do a project on something that interested them I chose the Battle of Britain.  Other girls chose to do their projects on horses and pro surfers – it was another moment in my school life that marked me out as a bit of a total nerd.  Not that I cared, everything about this battle fascinated me: the planes, the pilots and the personalities of those involved.  

Like many a spectator of history who finds themselves separated from the events that intrigue them by the passage of time, I’ve often wondered what this moment was like for those Londoners who witnessed it. This is especially true for me now as I have begun to consider London a home of sorts.  With all that was at stake, when those Londoners watched the dog fights raging above the familiar landmarks, could they distinguish between the men and the machines?  Between the pilots of flesh & blood who flew, and the machines of metal and armour that were flown? Hmmm, I think such a distinction might be a luxury of us spectators of history, who posses the ability of hindsight.  What I do know for certain was that amongst those Londoners was my Nana.  Too young to enlist, she joined the WAAF the following year.  As a spectator of history, this is as tangibly close as I will get to the actual event.  

Over the August Bank Holiday weekend I caught the second half of the Battle of Britain movie on TV.  It was a moment of serendipity, as it was quite possibly the first time that I had seen it in almost ten years.  Watching it through adult eyes brought home just how young some of the pilots were who were flying those planes.  As a twelve-year-old, a 22-year-old pilot sounded well, rather, old. Now, as a 20 something who is on the greater side of 30, a 22-year-old pilot sounds exactly like what it was – young.  

A similar moment of reflection had occurred earlier that day when I visited the Yorkshire village of Aldborough.  Ostensibly I had visited this village as it was built on the site of a Roman town and it had some Roman remains (which I did see while I was there).  However, amongst the park benches and maypole on the village green I came across the following plaque:

So, here is a moment to reflect on the men and women who had given their lives during this conflict, the preceding world war and all other wars that have followed.  To die young in these circumstances is to die too soon. Further, to die in the act of saving the lives of others exemplifies a selflessness that demonstrates the better side of our humanity and is something that is worth remembrance and reflection. 

*As I said, I’ve not been short of material, just means. While the value of this material (if one can put a value on words) is a moot point – I do wonder what the point of having a blog is if one does not actually post onto it one’s words. Hence the new tab, pieces of writing that are not exactly posts but are the end results of thoughts, feelings and experiences bundled into nouns and verbs.