Wednesday, 10 July 2013
Yes, I prefer the old, currently UK and phonetically correct, spelling of ageing. Its use is a privilege of being 93 and a half, somewhat removed from those days when I bragged about being 5 and a half.
Ageing does have its own problems, one of which is that there is quite a time lapse since my last blog. Yes, I still have the necessary verbal diarrhea but I spend much more time thinking about doing rather than actually doing. And, my memory is taking too many holidays, making it harder to recall facts and to decide among a confusing multitude of topics that I would like to address, like Echoes of the Arab Spring, The Widening Gulf between the rich and the poor, Climate change, Saving our Environment and Economy, Is Our Democracy the best form of government?, What is Life and Consciousness?, Would the world be more peaceful if we had kept the female gods, like Ashtoreth who went by so many names and whom we worshiped for 23,000 years and not allowed Abraham and his gang to force Yahweh, a god of war and vengeance, on us? Why do we persecute Conscientious People Like Manning and Snowden who promote open societies when we forget those who created financial ruin for millions?
My desire to acquaint you with my views has been interrupted by the cruelties of ageing. For instance: Ladders have taken a distinct dislike to me. Over the years I have treated them well and with respect. Now they rebel at me using even their first step. Then there is sexual harassment. Those two passionate women, Grace Gravity and Eva Earth have fallen madly in love with me, seizing me at every opportunity and crushing me into their bosoms for extra-marital affairs. Their love making is violent as blood on my face, arms, and knees testify. Years ago I bought a sturdy cabbage stock made into a formidable cane. It has been an honoured house guest but now I must draft it into service to defend myself.
After 27 years of publishing the 8-page bimonthly Wing newsletter with book reviews and comments on world affairs I retired after the May 2013 edition (copies can still be found on www.971WingAFAC.com).
But ageing does bring surprising benefits, one of which is acquiring a new family. Amid the grief of gradually losing practically all of my friends who were among the 17% of WWII aircrew veterans who survived being shot down, over a dozen daughters, sons, and grandchildren of now-deceased kriegies (POWs) who were with me in my Alma Mater, Stalag Luft III, and who worked on the Great Escape have found me and maintain active, highly valued, correspondence. They are searching for every scrap of data they can uncover including my views on the Great Escape which differ from the Hollywood version. Some have done such a good job of researching that they have given me data that I never knew or have forgotten. One, from East Sussex, UK, has compiled a page of data on each of 200 aircrew who were part of the Great Escape. A daughter, from Ohio, USA, made trips to the UK and Germany, finding a few originals but mostly descendants of people who had interacted with the father she lost a few years ago. She published a 487-page book on his career. Another daughter who emigrated from England to Canada to Hawaii to Colorado never knew her Dad as he was killed before she was born. She made several trips to Trenton, Ontario, where a Halifax retrieved from a Norwegian fiord was being rebuilt, to Belgium to stand on his grave, to Australia to meet the sole survivor of her Dad’s crew and went on to publish a book on her Dad’s crew. Another good friend of the younger generation, from Telford, Shropshire, who has also authored an excellent and haunting story of a Bomber Command crew and who has built the world’s best data base of Bomber Command casualties delights me with professional DVDs of the motorcycle trips he and two or three friends make of Europe each summer, including WWI and WWII battle sites and my old Alma Mater, Stalag Luft II, or what is left of it. In my den is a bottle of sand he sent me from it.
I am also very grateful to be still on my honeymoon with Joan, my war bride since January 1943. In spite of expensive hearing aids I now have difficulty understanding her and, with failing eyesight, she can no longer drive or make those fabulous clothes for herself and our five wonderful, talented, daughters who have now scattered with six grandchildren. The nearest daughter is 25 miles away and has been a tremendous help. The others make frequent visits even from Toronto. This big house was ideal when the girls were home but is too much now for the two of us but we will remain as long as we can.
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