Threescore Years and Ten – a Blog about 13 November 2016
This is a bit of an introduction. It won’t be a blog about me or about being seventy but it has to be seen in the context of my life at seventy. I won’t generally go out of my way to create topics but I may spend a lot of time looking for pictures to illustrate subject I have already chosen.
Although I didn’t have all the topics rigidly defined at first it did seem that my Birthday might be significant enough to make a blog post. Then at the beginning of November I thought that I should also mark Remembrance Day, which has always been important to me. I had them both marked as possible topics but in terms of words and pictures both were perhaps short topics. I always treat 11 November as Remembrance Day but, of course, I also note the celebrations we now have on the nearest Sunday. This year Remembrance Sunday and my Birthday come together on 13 November and I have gone for a combined blog.
I don’t want to imply that either one is more important than the other but with the remaining links to 11 November, Remembrance is going to come first.
The poppy is the recognized symbol for what we call Remembrance Day and I make no apologies for a picture of a poppy without a leaf. From my early memories poppies did not have leaves. Then they started to appear as an alternative version – something a little more ornate that perhaps merited a greater donation to the Haig Fund.
Poppies used to be made by hand by ex-servicemen. Now I think it’s more of a factory process and the leaf has crept in. There are even some who suggest that we should wear the poppy in a particular way and display the leaf at a certain angle. I just make sure I always wear a poppy when out from the beginning of November until the 11th or the nearest Sunday, whichever comes latest and perhaps a little longer. This one had a leaf but I took it off when it kept getting in the way when wearing the poppy in a buttonhole.
I go back a few days to find this War Memorial, which I photographed in the centre of Cheltenham. Almost every town and every village has one and Cheltenham’s is placed right at the heart of the town in front of the centre of the Municipal Buildings.
Most memorials, like this one, list those from the armed forces who died in the Great War of 1914-18 and the Second World War of 1939-45. Sadly there have been wars before these two and many continuing wars afterwards.
Very close to the main war memorial is another one from what we now call the Boer War, 1899-1903.
But what struck me most as I photographed these in early November were the decorations on the trees all along the Promenade by the Municipal Gardens, a few yards from the pictures above.
I have never seen them before but this year they have appeared by the War Memorial. They have all been individually hand-crafted. I’m no expert but I think it’s crochet rather than knitting. Here is a close-up.
A few days ago when I took these pictures there were some preparations beginning for events which take place here, and around the country on either 11 November or 13 November (the Sunday.)
I don’t normally go to these events live but I follow them on television or observe the silence wherever I am.
I have memories still with me of attending a service on 11 November 1980 in what was then West Berlin. It was a strange experience because Remembrance Day is not a World event. Commonwealth countries keep it but other countries tend to celebrate it on different days. I walked to the British War Cemetery in Berlin seeing no-one else with poppies until I arrived there. Even in Berlin there is a cemetery for British troops.
I am going to end this section with a couple of other related pictures spotted in early November.
This is from St. Mary’s Church at Batsford, where I went for pictures of Autumn.
This is the tiny village of Brimpsfield where I went for a country walk. It could have been almost any other village in Britain.
Well it wasn’t an ordinary birthday so I went out a few days before and bought something to wear for the day.
I had surprises through the post.
And a few cards.
The family came round and took me out for lunch. This where we went.
In a way it’s an Italian restaurant but the building is an impressive former church.
It was a long and enjoyable lunch for ten of us.
Much against my usual habit I missed out the Tiramisu and came home. But there was a good reason!
When I was younger people generally retired at 65 and started their pensions. It was the age when you became ‘old.’ Now it’s not so clear. I retired and got my free bus pass at 60 and I even proudly announce ‘senior citizen’ if I think I can get cheaper admission anywhere. But I don’t think of myself as being old yet. I still think of myself as young at heart.
Of course at 70 they all ask: “Does it feel different?” and the answer is no. But things change at 70. Driving licences need renewing. Travel insurance gets more complicated and more expensive. Hiring cars becomes impossible – so I have been told.
I am lucky enough to be still fit and fairly healthy and I intend to keep going for a bit. (I have no intention of discussing my health with you. It goes into the same area as religion, politics and who I support at football – best not said.)
I do reminisce about the last seventy years. That’s what some of my blogs have reflected and it’s why my key-ring looks like this.
But remembrance and getting old are both things that make us think of how our lives might end.
We have to go back to Psalm 90, verse 10 for the source of the title although with modern medicine it is no longer quite so true. I only use the King James Version.
The days of our years are threescore years and ten;
and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years,
yet is their strength labour and sorrow;
for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.