Since 60 is divisible by four, and since I have kept a diary from 1969, I am able to record what I was doing on every quarter-day of my life until now. I can’t say it’s gripping!
On Sunday 1 February 1970, three-quarters of my life ago, I woke up to my birthday at Benenden. I was in a small dormitory called Hindle, with Monica Bell and Nell Elphinstone. They had hinted there would be a surprise for me at first bell (around 7am). When the bell rang there was a shuffling in the dark and suddenly the strains of the shepherds’ song from Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony came out of the tape-recorder. They knew I loved it and it was a super surprise. In those days, organising music was not easy and they had gone to great trouble to record the music onto a tape so that they could play it at first light.
On Friday 1 February 1985, half my life ago, I had been working at the Open Spaces Society for about ten months. My diary records that the Department for the Environment ‘was being awkward about our grant’ (I had won some core funding for the society the previous year) and wanted the Countryside Commission to fund us instead. Later I set off for Hampshire to speak at the Ramblers’ Hampshire Area AGM in Alton the following day. I stayed the night with my friend Drusilla Belfield in Winchester who gave me a lovely birthday evening.
On Tuesday 1 February 2000, one quarter of my life ago, the Countryside and Rights of Way Bill was shortly to be published. I went as an observer to the National Countryside Access Forum meeting in London, on which the Ramblers were represented by Jerry Pearlman. As usual, we organised a pre-meeting with Ramblers’ volunteers who were attending and met them again at lunchtime to discuss what had transpired. Later that day I had a meeting with Paddy Tipping MP who was enormously helpful in the freedom-to-roam campaign, before going to a Countryside Agency reception in the Jubilee Room. A packed day.
And here we are today, Sunday 1 February 2015, and I am glad to be at home having a peaceful day.
A reader has commented:
St Augustine (of Hippo, not Canterbury) said that memory is ‘the belly of the mind’ .
The worldly monk in Chaucer’s Prologue did not like Augustine’s teaching of the need for prayer and manual work. ‘Let Austin have his swink [labour] to him reserved’: he preferred to go hunting.
These are little facts that might help to fill out a blogge (as Chaucer spells it).