May 15, 2012
I've been waiting to see this for months and it was truly brilliant! Uplifting, heart warming - I didn't want it to end.
As happens with treasures like this - it won't be around in cinemas for long - so please go see it. You won't be disappointed. Now I'm off to book my trip to India (in my mind).
February 25, 2012
December 9, 2011
November 13, 2011
November 11, 2011
Lest We Forget
Sadly for my grandfather, eldest of three brothers, his war time was to end tragically. He was an expert navigator and bomber fighter, attached to the RAF and took part in most of the major bombing raids in Germany and France. In the Battle Of Brest - the first major daylight bombing raid - he was recommended for a DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross) but, because they were short one medal, circumstances on the day meant he was the one to miss out.
A letter he wrote home in 1941 was telling:
"I have been on quite a number of big bombing raids now and realise that the chances of survival are not as great as they might be. Nearly every trip we lose a percentage of our crews and already a great portion of my class have passed on to that happy hunting ground where we will all assemble at the sound of the great trumpet.
Personally I have no fear of these trips at all, and even much less fear death, particularly when I realise that should that be my fate, I will walk the same lanes and fields as the thousands of other young men who have so gladly and willingly died for this great cause.
Not only that, but we will be in the same realm as the great soldiers of England who have gone before us and blazed the way. I feel proud that I have been allowed to serve as an officer in the Royal Air Force and I want you to feel proud with me rather than sorry for me.
After all my sacrifice is very small. It is M (his wife, my grandmother) and JS (his son, my father) who are making the real sacrifice. Sometimes I feel very mean having left them like I have to fight the great battles of life....."
In 1942 his tour had ended and he wrote to his wife and son (my father) to prepare to shift to Canada as he had a position training air crews there and that is where they would live. Then experienced volunteers were called for a mission over Denmark - my grandfather volunteered for one last mission. Sixty aircraft took off on Sunday May 18th - the plane was hit twice by flak and crashed at 0210 at Galskling, 2km west of Middlefart.
My great grandmother received the "missing believed killed" telegram just hours before my great aunt was to be married. She kept that information to herself until after the wedding. Another great aunt remembers finding the telegram under the mattress as she made the bed for a guest, later that evening. It was to be months before there was finally confirmation of his death.
Of the 60 planes that set off on that final mission, six were lost and only one of the crew lived, was seriously injured and taken prisoner. There is a memorial to my grandfather and the crew of MacRobert's Reply at Middlefart, Denmark - the stone was taken from the crash site. My grandfather's grave is at Odense near a memorial to the fallen.
My father, who is an only child never had the chance to know his father.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Here are a few excerpts from my great uncle's log book - he was an RAF Flight-Lieutenant Beaufighter pilot and night flyer. He was attached to the 29th Squadron, stationed at Brize Norton.
July 23: (his first sortie) enemy aircraft approached from the North East, scrambled after them, pitch dark night. Got to within one mile of them and they scooted for home.
July 25: Daylight scramble in bad weather. Jerry driven off - one crew missing.
August 5: Weather very bad. Dark, raining and bumpy as hell. Intercepted a JU88. It took violent evasive action and got away in the dark. It is believed I damaged him canon fire.
August 13: Tonight Jerry raided Canterbury in strength. Three of us went up to intercept. The flak was terrible. Dunne and Hay were shot down. For Jerry shot down.
September 10: (crashed at Bradwell Bay). Flaps damaged by flak and had to make a blind landing in nil visibility. Lucky to get down.
September 13: A JU88 got on my tail and I just saw it in time to peel off. Tried to dog fight with it but it was too dark so I buggered off before there was one less in the family.
November 13: Over Flushing my starboard engine was hit and started to emit sparks. Got an emergency homeing. Over base, the cloud base was just clear of hills and while on circuit the engine ceased. Maintained height on one engine but hit four trees on approach. Managed to crash land and plane went up in flames; got out by the skin of my teeth. Knocked about and not allowed to do any heavy flying for 3 months.
This marked the end of his first tour.
I will never forget those who have either lost their lives or been gravely wounded in any war.
October 4, 2011
September 11, 2011
September 2, 2011
REMEMBERING THE CHILDREN OF FIRST MARRIAGES
Oh remember the children of first marriages
For they are silent and awkward in their comings and their goings;
For the seal of the misbegotten is upon them;
For they walk in apology and dis-ease;
For their star is sunk;
For their fathers’ brows are knitted against them;
For they bristle and snarl.
All you light-limbed amblers in the sun,
Remember the grovellers in the dark;
The scene-shifters, the biders, the loners.
Lucy Tunstall is a doctoral student at the University of Exeter.
From The Paris Review.
July 21, 2011
May 18, 2011
May 9, 2011
April 27, 2011
April 7, 2011
They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,
Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things,
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,
Not one is respectable or unhappy over the earth.
April 4, 2011
February 23, 2011
Hello sweet abandoned blog and my wonderful, faithful readers - I've been away and didn't want my first post back to be about money. The money is not for me though - its for my homeland and the people of Christchurch. This is the first time in the history of New Zealand that a State of Emergency has been declared - tragically lives have been lost, hundreds are still trapped and the city itself is rubble.
Many people have asked me what's the best way to get donations to New Zealand and my suggestion is through the Red Cross.
So here's the link to the NZ Red Cross -
I truly appreciate anything that you can donate - I know times are tough but everything little bit helps.
Update: An official donation website has also now be set up here.
December 1, 2010
We Will Live
by Helen Wilson
We must live, get on with our lives.
I am someone who lives here, and I am no one in particular.
I am not a close relative, just relatively close.
I live amongst you, work with you, pass you on the street,
and as luck would have it, I came home again.
I went to work on that Friday as you did. That's all.
My labrador ready for a run when I got home, my lawnmower and fishing rod waiting eagerly for the weekend.
I lived, and should have got on with my life.
But as I write, my neighbourhood is at a standstill, and I am with them,
paralysed by the enormity of despair, guilt and helplessness.
My lawns have bloomed dandelions, my dog, bored, is digging holes in the weeds.
The media says we are a close-knit community. I prefer to think we are tightly bound to be here,
because living here is not a normal, comfortable life but a strong and uncertain existence;
forever at the whim of our surroundings, we go up the back and go down the mine, up the hill and across the bar.
The earth moves, the winds strike, the rain falls, and the hills remind us of their omnipotence.
We nod to each other in the street in a quiet way because we understand we have lived more than most and we really know how to get on with our lives.
And in a flash, life has stopped us in our tracks and can never be the same.
And in the days after Friday and the anguish, as if we had forgotten and needed a remedial lesson,
we are reminded what it is that is most precious about our community.
And in our despair, we are kinder to each other. We spend more time. We knit ourselves tighter and we behave a little better,
and that in itself brings us the comfort we need.
We will mourn some more, and then wearying of that, we will remember this day and what it is to be alive.
And in the memory of those we have lost, we will promise to be kinder to each other,
Because we have learned all over again what is important and what is not.
To do this gives purpose to their lives, and some sanction for their death.
This weekend I will mow my lawns, retrieve my dog from her pit, and the greyest kahawai will not be safe.
And we will all live for them a little bit better and get on with our lives.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
An absolute disaster happened in a country far from here - it happened in my homeland and those who perished were my countrymen. I watched the memorial service on CNN tonight with tears streaming and stood to sing the National Anthem with a very shaky voice. The youngest miner was just 17.
As the Prime Minister read out the names of the 29 who perished, a lone bird started to sing as if on cue.