Sunday, 15 January 2012

Text For Today

My text for today is: get the small things right and the rest will follow. Reading the papers yesterday, I noticed the Scots term gallus used as a noun instead of an adjective. Claire Rendlesham, once the editor of Vogue magazine was Lady Rendlesham, because she was married to a man called Lord Rendlesham but never 'Lady Claire Rendlesham' (as in one newspaper review of a film about Jean Shrimpton and David Bailey in the 1960's), because that would have meant that she was the daughter of an Earl, a 'lady' in her own right. An obituary referred to someone as having graduated from 'University College, London' - whereas UCL, my alma mater, does not have a comma between 'College' and 'London', any more than I have between Elizabeth and Roberts. Distinctions like these matter, because getting things like that wrong means sloppy thinking, lack of attention to detail.

There has been a very good full moon, waning now, but still spectacular. I woke last night to a view of it between the branches of the birch trees that grow by the Birnock Water outside my bedroom window. My curtains have gone away to be fitted with blackout lining because they are made (by Ikea) of a semi-transparent fabric. I love them, but they do not keep out the light and I am hoping to test a theory that one sleeps better in the pitch dark.

I am gripped by the emerging details of the wreck of the Costa cruise liner, uncannily mirroring certain aspects of the sinking, other than the iconic final vertical plunge and that the fact that the Costa collision was with a fixed rock not a floating iceberg, of The Titanic. Both vessels were 'state of the art' for their time; there is one theory that a failure of hi-tech steering and navigation aids, caused by an electrical fault, account for the Costa being three miles off course. But then, for three miles - how many minutes? - the captain must have known that the ship was drifting helplessly towards rocks? Meanwhile, the merrymakers dined, and the band played on, as in 1912. One is also drawn to a comparison with the impending fate of the euro, and with it, the financial system that appears so stable. The Queen, whose Jubilee we celebrate this year, is supposed to have asked 'Why did no-one see it coming?' The answer is: failure to look, failure to see, to be literally or metaphorically on deck, on watch. Make sure where your lifebelt is.

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