A view backstage at Beverley Minster

Celebrations are in order

Beverley Minster virger Neil Pickford ponders the significance of dates.
Please excuse any wobbly typing this week but I’m a little bit tip…tip…tip hooray-ish (hic). Yes, surrounded by fan-mail I celebrate completing one year as columnist in the world’s most famous newspaper that’s entitled ‘Beverley Advertiser’ – this very publication in fact.
Magnums of the finest vintage champagne have been brought to my doorstep by beautiful delivery girls who all bear a striking resemblance to stars of TV series ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’, while huge cheques for the rights to publish my work are floating gently from the sky.
Chief executives from national newspaper groups are tearfully ringing me up, apologising for mis-spelling ‘virger’ in their coverage of the cartwheeling clot in Westminster Abbey after THAT wedding.
Weeping readers lament the absence of my column from two weeks ago, cursing whichever deranged High Court judge granted the superinjunction to prevent me revealing the relationship between a person who works in the BBC and someone from South of the River.
And then I wake up and learn that almost none of the above is true…
The reality is that the Advertiser simply failed to publish my beautifully polished prose in the week that marked my anniversary due to ‘production difficulties’.
To console myself I remind me that it’s actually not much of an anniversary anyway. After all, I did start writing this column for the Advertiser’s website more than 18 months before my pieces began appearing in print, so the significance of this week is somewhat debateable.
It’s odd, anyway, how we humans attach so much importance to coincidental dates. My wife is currently in a frenzy of letter-writing, inviting friends to celebrate the 25th anniversary of our wedding, which is nice but somewhat illogical. I mean, I can remember the day itself with considerable clarity, but many of the years in between are a complete blur. It doesn’t feel like a quarter of a century, and I’m not even sure what a quarter of a century should feel like. But we’re going to have a party in the Minster anyway, so that’s nice.
Now I am also going to be 56 this year. No big deal – I still feel almost as stupid as I was when I was 23, but I’ve noticed that everyone is treating this particular birthday, for some reason, as less important than my 55th. Mind you, if there was a big celebration last year then they forgot to invite me to it.
Really, I don’t think these anniversary things matter, although other people find them of huge importance.
I know of someone who decided they’d better have a mid-life crisis purely because they’d reached their 50th birthday and so, for no good reason, they went mad for a while.
I read that John Lennon felt so depressed by his 30th birthday that he had to fly to South America: (a note to my younger readers – John Lennon was the founder of a guitar-based beat combo that was very popular in the 1960s and now has acres of reinforced tarmac in Liverpool named after him. He also had a fairly depressing 30th anniversary last year).
Remember the excitement over the date 2000? Christian churches proudly boasted it was the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Christ (which is a slightly contentious claim) and IT/computer experts also emailed us to say we were all going to die unless we gave them lots of money. I didn’t, and we survived just fine.
People do like anticipating incredibly unpleasant events for dates where various digits come together in a pattern– apparently there was a considerable ‘end-of-the-world’ mood around in the year 999AD and, just because we’ve safely cleared our latest millennium and there won’t be another one along for a while, some excitable pessimists have co-opted other cultures to create more instant harbingers of disaster.
We’ve now learned of a supposed prediction from the wise, ancient and mystical Mayans that the world will end on one of their special dates in 2012. Excuse me. Would this be the same ancient, wise and mystical Mayans who didn’t predict that their own civilisation would be annihilated 300 years ago? Yes, it is and, as they didn’t see that coming, it doesn’t give me too much confidence in any of their other long-term forecasts. I’ve got more confidence in the Met Office.
I know some floppy-brained people have bought into this whole 2012-disaster picture but it sounds like typical New Age cattle droppings to me so I won’t start building my own Ark just yet, thank you very much
No, it seems obvious to me that coincidental alignments of dates, especially those repeated in 52-week cycles have no cosmic, or even personal significance whatsoever – a view obviously shared by the Hull Daily Mail who haven’t even sent me an e-mail to mark the occasion. But I don’t care, really I don’t.
I’m sorry, do I sound a bit peevish? Can’t think why. Oh well, see you again next week – if any of us live that long.
First published May 2011


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