December 31, 2014
December 24, 2014
Stolen: a shred of cloth stained with the blood of Pope John Paul II; meanwhile, on theshores of Lake Geneva, Syria’s ‘peace talks’ foaming with blood on both sides.
When fire sweeps through an old people’s home in small town Canada, water from firemen’s hoses turns to ice at 20 degrees below. More than 30 dead.
In the Ancient Kingdom of Fife, masked raiders hijack Glen the Baker’s delivery van (a few quid and a tray of Scotch pies); and hundreds queue to enter the memorial service for three-year-old Mikaeel Kular, whose body was found in woods close to his former home in Kircaldy.
Dennis McGuire (53) lay still after more than 10 minutes of ‘air hunger’ – heaving, choking, snorting and gasping . Danish manufacturers Lundbeck have stopped supplying the United States with lethal injections, and the country of Big Pharma has failed to produce a reliable replacement.
Mexico is ‘quickly turning into the China of the West’, with car production predicted to rise 60 per cent by 2020. In Mexico’s drug wars, however, modern production co-exists with medieval ritual. Thus the five bodies wrapped in white sheets, roped up and strung out along an underpass in the northern city of Saltillo; iconic as a crucifixion scene.
At the height of the tidal surge, photography student Harry Martin went shooting thestormiest waves off the South Devon coast – and never came back.
Upper Middle England is messing about in boats on wide, brown rivers dotted with cars and road signs half-submerged. Wellies and woolly jumpers instead of twinsets and pearls.
A dog called Killer has killed a ‘china doll’ called Ava-Jayne – the ‘doll’ being an 11-month-old baby. The incident took place in a town north of Manchester that just doesn’t matter any more.
Resilience, rallying round, the heroism of Glasgow people (note: nobody said ‘Glaswegians’) as they ran to help others.
These soothing words came too soon; only hours after a driverless (‘driver’ seemingly slumped at the wheel) dustbin lorry – baby blue, built like a tank – skittled into Christmas shoppers, killing six of them as it careered alongside Glasgow’s George Square towards Queen Street station.
Of course such words were said, as of course they are largely true; but saying them too early, too often, too readily, only reduces their restorative power.
Better to be dumbfounded at first. Shocked into silence by arbitrary, unnecessary death, since it contains the possibility that our whole lives were always that way.
Then the first acknowledgement: still barely articulate; halting, half-formed, until finally finding the right words immediately finds us the road back to who we are.
Out of the bleak midwinter, the bare naked bulb, the room still dark even though thelights are on, at that moment we can seek to show that death has no dominion.
But even resurrection – especially resurrection – requires a prior period of utter desolation.
It so happens that both aspects are already written into the dual character ofGlasgow’s civic architecture:
Enlightened orderliness in George Square itself, planned by Georgians and completed by Victorians, in which it is declared that out of power and substance will come sweetness and light.
Matched by the menace of the Gothic (the University, the Stock Exchange, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral), which threatens to embalm the city while it is still alive.
Yes, in the wake of disaster would-be words of comfort will come trippingly off thetongue. What else can be said?
But there is a choice: we can either keep saying them until the right moment comes along, eventually; or perhaps say nothing for the now, so that in good time they will be better said.