Friday 19 September 2003
Pix Of The Day: Days Of Remembrance
CREDITS: © Andrew Leaney/Leaney.org MAP: Howtown (and walk map).
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Ian Scott-Parker writes: Lucky me: I once worked down there, where the trees fringe that small bay. The place is Howtown, and the lake is Ullswater, in the English Lake District, just southwest of Penrith. When I started to write the notes to accompany this picture, I had little idea of the web of memories it would call forth. My buddy Robert and I had parked at Martindale Church, intending to do the same walk as Andrew and Anne Leaney did earlier this month. I found a walking pole leaning in the church porch, and after some detective work in the visitors' book, finally tracked down the owner a few days later. Dismissively, in the sort of voice the aristocracy use to the servants when they are being difficult, she told me I might keep the pole because it was old, worn out, and of little use: with a cheery, "That will make three of us!", I hung up the phone.
We trudged along the same route as the Leaneys, swathed in waterproofs against the rain. By the time we reached the ridge that ascends to Arthur's Pike we were almost as wet from sweat within, as from rain without: this was Sunday 31 August 1997, which was still officially summer.
Robert is like Captain Tennille (it is a joke), in the Simpsons cartoon: he is a man of few words; any questions? The poor fellow always suffered my constant chatter with fortitude, and on that day even ventured a few sociable remarks of his own, in the short pauses while I fought to recover breath. When it ceased raining, we stopped to remove our waterproofs. Robert eyed me suspiciously, and observed, "You didn't listen to the news before we left this morning?", asked more as a statement than a question. It was the day that Princess Diana died in a car accident in Paris.
Checking back for the exact date, I found an archived BBC site (here is the link they forgot to provide to the follow-up) site, which included a 'What Were You Doing When…?' page. Another page deals with the controversy surrounding the actions of the paparazzi, in particular one named Romuald Rat.
I remember that at the time I was unable to join in the general sense of loss: I did feel that a tragedy had happened, but a tragedy that was probably one of many that same day, all of them more painful than this one for those directly involved. I had never heard of Monsieur Rat until today, though his name is one of those ironic twists that encapsulates the whole sorry mess.
As I finished writing this piece, I discovered that today's archive piece was also a walk down a similar memory lane. Happenstance seems to happen often lately.
On This Day In 2002: Plugs of the Auvergne - Thu 19 Sep 2002
We have not been lucky enough to meet in person many of the people whose work I have featured here. However, we am fairly sure that one lovely summer's day several years ago we did bump into Tony Sainsbury, the photographer who took today's picture. We were walking on Swirral Edge in the English Lake District about four years ago with our colleague Robert, when we stepped aside, to allow a stream of younger more athletic persons to pass on the track down to Red Tarn.
Another… ahem… mature gent joined us, and we passed the time of day: we think that was Tony, but cannot be sure until he has checked his walking diary. Unfortunately we have only our memories to rely on, a method fraught with problems of unreliability. Tony descended at that point because he had an appointment to keep, but with Robert we continued along the ridge to the deserted summit of Catstycam, to enjoy the wonderful name of the place also known as Catstye Cam and Catchedicam, for some quiet uncrowded reflection.
Meanwhile, Tony has been on vacation in the mountainous areas of France. Today's picture is of two denuded volcanic plugs near to Le Mont Dore in the region to the south of Clermont-Ferrand, part of the Massif central, in the Auvergne region of France. From our own window we can see a volcanic plug named Molly's Nipple, one of six topographical features in the area to bear that name: as local guide 'Ranger' Bart Anderson remarks in his lectures, "She must have been one interesting woman". There is an excellent site about volcanoes at ThinkQuest.org, which is clear and concise for non specialists. Graeme and his son Alasdair walked south through the wonderful countryside of the Auvergne. Their web site records the journey with excellent maps and pictures. You may accompany them (perhaps after adjusting your browser's text size) and be accompanied by the strains of Marie Joseph Canteloube de Calaret's 'Bailèro' from the wonderful 'Songs of the Auvergne'; beautiful music for the female voice.
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Jules Laforgue (1860-1887)
"Ah! que la vie est quotidienne."
Oh, what a day-to-day business life is.
'Complainte sur certains ennuis' (1885)