I heard the news early on that Prince Philip had died.
I’m not particularly a Royalist, but I’m not anti-Monarchist either, and I do appreciate the history of the many Kings and Queens we’ve had on these shores.
An American woman once told me, when I was in London, that she envied us of our royals. And of our history-she said, myopically, that hers was a modern country compared to Britain, which isn’t strictly true, but I knew what she meant.
Philip died in the castle that his mother was born in, and regular Jackdaw readers will know that I’m a sucker for connections like that. He was 99 when he passed, which means that he was almost eligible for a telegram from his own wife.
Incidentally, during my time as a postman, I delivered one of those telegrams from the Queen to a delightful woman who’d just turned a hundred years old. Her family, proud, were awaiting my arrival, and she, of a deferential generation, held a certain understated satisfaction. It truly was the Royal Mail that I worked for that spring morning.
The Duke’s death is a reminder that our Monarch herself is 94, and whether she steps down or not there really is the sense of an ending now-a closing of this second Elizabethan age. For most of us, Elizabeth is the only ruler we’ve known, with her husband the mainstay beside her. For the first time in our lives a Coronation is coming. That will be something to behold. The American woman would love that.
Seven weeks on from my post about the three lost fishermen (one of whom was related to someone my wife knows), it’s been revealed that their bodies have been recovered from the coastline of Wirral and Blackpool. It’s tragic, but not altogether unexpected.
At least now they can be given a decent burial and their families afforded some closure.
That evening I came across these lines by George Mackay Brown, and once again my thoughts turned to those men and the loved ones they’d left behind:
Eight years. That’s how long WordPress tells me that I’ve been blogging for.
Eight years – my anniversary passing last week. Wondering if there was anything significant about this number, and knowing nothing of numerology, I looked it up:
It seems that eight is male, who’d have though that numbers had gender? And it represents infinity-is this a sign that I’m going to blog, like, forever?
What about the number outside of numerology? Where would I be without Google?
Eight is the natural number following seven and preceding nine.
Now that I can get my head around! It’s that number in between seven and nine. I should have put money on it.
Then next there was this:
An eighth is a common measure of marijuana, as in an eighth of an ounce.
Hmm . . . maybe Jackdaw will continue flying high, so to speak?
On other blog anniversaries I’ve tended to think about the posts I’ve done in the past, the journey I’ve been on. This time, though, I started thinking about the people that I’ve come to know along the way. This was prompted by a comment I made tonight on a US friend’s blog ( https://laurabrunolilly.com/blog/ ) about how I once met a fellow blogger face to face, quite by chance, at a funeral of all places. I recognised her and (re)introduced myself, and she later blogged about this coming together of both her ‘real’ life and her ‘virtual’ life.
There are people that have been flying with City Jackdaw since its very conception, there’s some that have joined along the way, and there were some who fell away.
I took some time to look at a few of my early posts, recognising among the comments names of old friends who, for whatever reason, appear not to blog anymore.
Some of them were very generous with their time and their friendship back then, and I felt genuinely saddened that they were no longer around. I wondered what they were up to now in their own part of the world, and hoped that life was treating them well.
Sometimes it’s the not knowing, and being deprived of a chance to express my gratitude, say farewell and wish them luck.
But sometimes it is the knowing-
there was a woman who read my posts and often left encouraging comments. I’d noticed her absence for a while before I learned the reason: she had died at the hands of her husband. Awful, and I was grieving the senseless end of a person I’d never met.
Wow! What has happened to this post?! I was supposed to be celebrating my anniversary!
I think instead I should just take this opportunity to express my gratitude now to all of you still following City Jackdaw, and hope we have some time together yet. If life does take you away from this virtual world at some point in the future, and you see in advance that approaching fork in the road, come and say goodbye first.
I’d appreciate that. I really am the sentimental sort.
Mornings following mornings following mornings, sitting with a coffee and nowhere to go.
But I can still travel. Without going out of my door as Harrison sang.
During this lockdown we are all becoming islands, but still part of a vast archipelago, casting our messages in technological bottles that lap against each other’s shores.
Tides and tidings, what do they bring today?
The RNLI had launched a vessel from their Aberystwyth base, just twenty minutes ago. I follow many of the stations around our coastline on Twitter, marvelling at the courage of the volunteers who regularly head out into the kind of conditions that would make me blanch.
As well as the personal Twitter sites of the bases around the shorelines that I’m familiar with, it’s the RNLI: Out On A Shout that gives the regular updates. The listings though are sparse, just postings of times and places, critically cryptic (or should that be cryptically critical?), prompting a visit to the named stations in the hunt for further details.
‘Cold cleavings of the sea’ now comes to mind, something from George Mackay Brown’s The Masked Fisherman which I was reading last night. Everything leads to something else, an ever moving current.
Closer to home I learn of the death of a local church minister that I was acquainted with. I didn’t know him well, but he was a popular figure around here as the many technological bottles testify to. The last time I’d seen him he appeared quite gaunt, the way time affects those who have not a lot of meat on their bones to begin with.
There seems to be a lot of people leaving us at the moment. People once present now cut adrift, disappearing beneath the surface of vision.
I decide on a refill, taking a glance out of the kitchen window. It is yet another cold start, the sun is trying its best, though.
I’m a little behind the times, and for that I apologise, but on the 5th of January Colin Bell, widely regarded as the greatest player to ever pull on the sky blue shirt for my team, Manchester City, passed away.
I’d meant to do a post about the time my wife and I met him, in memorable circumstances, a few years ago, but I got caught up in ‘stuff’ and haven’t written it yet. I will post that at a later date.
In the meanwhile, I’ve posted below a short tribute by 007 himself, Timothy Dalton, an avowed City and Colin Bell fan. It refers to the player’s beginnings and how this shy, most unassuming of men gained legendary status without really acknowledging that. There could be no more apt title for his autobiography: Reluctant Hero.
The tribute also shows him running through the streets of Manchester in a vain attempt to come back from the injury that prematurely called time on his career.
Please give it a watch.
We’d had a good morning, considering we are currently in the midst of Tier 3 Covid restrictions, having found a place where we could (legally) sit in for a few coffees. In the afternoon, Jen and I sat in the car outside my daughter’s high school, waiting for her to come out.
Jen: I think we are going to have to go shopping once we get back
Me: Aw no
Jen: We haven’t got that much in
Me: Let’s leave it ’til tomorrow
Jen: It’ll be too much messing tomorrow, we’ve got a lot on
Me: We’ll go in the morning
Jen: Today would be better
Me: Naw, it’s my birthday today
Jen: Life doesn’t stop because it’s your birthday. I worked on my birthday
Me: I don’t want to go shopping on my birthday. It could be my last ever birthday. Some day it will be my last ever birthday
Jen: Then you’ll always remember it
Me: Not if death brings only sleep
Imagine Lennon today. He’d have been brilliant on Twitter.
Also for your perusal, an earlier City Jackdaw post about cosmic connections: Lennon, Morrison, and me: