Friday, 15 February 2013
Cancer, diabetes, kidney failure, depression, sarcoids, alcoholism and now heart failure. I cannot make up my mind whether there is Someone Up There who doesn’t like me or Someone Up There who likes me so much He cannot wait to issue me with harps one, angels for the use of, and a few brisk words on Commandment abuse.
Anyway, as I wait for Sinatra’s final curtain there is one thing of which I am certain. I think He was out of order boasting that He made the world in six days. We have two gardeners, Hipkin for conversation and Paul, and it takes them four hours every Monday to keep our tiny plot in good heart, aided and advised by the Head Ferret. I expect He, like them, has a touch of Gardener’s Fancy where effort expended bears little resemblance to effort reported.
I don’t know why He bothered. After all, He invented Time. In His place I would have gone for Natural Selection. Much more plausible.
This six day nonsense is terribly inconvenient for others who have Creation Moments. Of late, I have wakened ever morning just after 6 am with a complete Answer to the Mysteries of the Universe. Laid out before me. The trouble is…by the time I have got my teeth in I have forgotten what it was.
Very puzzling thing this business of Time. Remember how we celebrated the Millennium in the wrong year? On any reading of the form book it was unlikely to occur during 2001 A.D.
We do not have “0” birthdays. Our first birthday arrives when we are one. It follows that those of us who live that long, amongst whom I profoundly wish not to be numbered, will be one hundred years old in 101 years after our first birthday. Otherwise we would have celebrated our 21st birthday when we were 20.
The structure of our calendar was first determined in the 6th century by a monk called Dennis the Short. Dennis began by dating countable years from the foundation of Rome and then again from Christ’s birth, which he wrongly set on December 25. His year restarted on January 1st, the feast of Christ’s circumcision, but not, alas, the New Year’s Day of Roman and Latin Christian calendars.
Dennis was wrong. Herod died in the year 750 (from the foundation of Rome, that is). For Herod and Christ to coincide, Christ must have been born four years earlier than Dennis claims - in 4 B.C. in fact. Not even Camerloon could successfully juggle those figures.
There is a further complication. In 1582, a sixteenth century (note that) pedant decided to drop the Julian calendar and replace it with the more mathematically exact Gregorian calendar. Wisely Great Britain, as it was then, ignored this until 1752. Now, like the rest of the world, we celebrate the original Christmas Day on Twelfth Night. Well, not all the world. In Jerusalem, Eastern and Western Christian sects celebrate Christmas on different days.
Time juggling is not an easy obsession to break. In days before the railways came each town followed its own time. You could leave town “A” at noon and it would still be noon when you reached town “B”.
The Millennium was mostly down to Lord Mandelson. His grandfather, the monumentally dreadful and universally hated Herbert Morrison, inspired and figure-headed the 1951 Festival of Britain – which, like the Millennium exercise, also went massively over budget and into debt.
It was difficult to see the point of the Festival of Britain, except as a tourist attraction. But at least Britain existed.
The 2000 A.D. Millennium didn’t. Biblical scholars agree the birth of Christ, which it commemorates, happened - if it happened at all - in 4 B.C. So we missed the Millennium which was in 1994 - or five. Because you start counting from one and not nought.
The first cancer scare I had turned out to be sarcoids. When I asked the surgeon what that was, he confessed no one knew. “Very rare?” I suggested. “Very,” he said.
In those far-off days I used to fish with an acerbic Scots vet.
“I’ve got a touch of sarcoids,” I told him with quiet pride. ”Very rare, so the surgeon said.”
“Haud yer whist,“ he sneered in his impenetrable Scottish way (only Scots can sneer and be impenetrable at the same time). “It’s no rare. Bliddy dogs get it.”
Just my luck. Can’t wait to get Fowl Pest.