After all these years of writing for TheSupercargo, there’s a reservoir of posts stretching back for more than a decade. In August I introduced the first in this occasional series looking back at the legacy of 10+ years of published posts at TheSupercargo. Now it’s time for a second instalment.
The Ingelnook Incident
November is a rather sad month at this lattitude; at least I find it so. Colour flees from the world, the nights spread out and the days shrink in upon themselves. It’s a month for ghosts and ghouls and … detective stories, why not? The first post I want to share is one I composed in a series of tweets on Twitter during a walk in the woods outside Gothenburg. At that time, and for a year or so after, I used to play a word game called Artwiculate. At the time of writing, it’s still running, though without the whistles and bells of the early days.
Artwiculate players are given one of the dictionary’s lesser-used words and have 24 hours to use the word in one or more tweets. On the 21st November 2009, the Artwiculate Word of the Day was inglenook. It seemed to call out for Sherlock Holmes. Since he wasn’t available, I invented a new Consulting Detective, Sheerluck Helmse, and his biographer Winston Caruthers.
With great bonhomie and absolutely no homoerotic undertone, Helmse and Carruthers sitting in the inglenook discussing the case.
To be sure, when the sun shines, especially when it’s the dawn sun on a frosty morning in a garden, November’s dullness flees away. These photos come from a post published here on 16th November 2011. Some of them made it into GBG365, my daily photo blog.
I took these photos in Trädgårdsföreningen, the Garden Society Park, in central Gothenburg.
The eleventh hour …
Apart from the weather and the (lack of) light, another reason for the sadness of November must be what in Britain is called Remembrance Day. The commemorations of all the dead of all the wars of the twentieth century.
The First World War, aka The Great War, aka The War to End All Wars, came to a close of sorts with the coming into force of the Armistice, at the stroke of midnight in Berlin between the 11th and 12th November 1918. In Britain and consequently among the British allies, this was at “the eleventh hour of the the eleventh day of the eleventh month”. The eleventh hour being a phrase with Biblical overtones that means “at the last moment” or “almost too late”. (See for example the Cambridge Dictionary here.)
Here in Sweden (which was a neutral during both World Wars) Remembrance Day is a piquant curiosity. Not so in Belgium where Mrs SC and I lived 2015-2017. In 2016 I wrote about the observation of Remembrance Day in Brussels. It had “its pomp and uniforms – and a King as a figurehead – but it didn’t seem nearly so triumphalist or popular as Anglophone Remembrance Days I’m used to.”
A couple of years later I visited just such an Anglophone Remembrance Day in Flanders fields, poppies and iconography. Towards the bottom of that page you’ll find a clue to my less than full-throttle enthusiasm for Remembrance Day.
On Friday 13th November, in 2015, co-ordinated terror attacks took place in Paris. Mrs SC and I had visited the city not long before so I had some autumnal photos of Paris already lined up. On the Wednesday after the attacks, I published Paris, photos and terror – a meditation.
Paris is an iconic city, with iconic buildings. It’s hardly surprising it should be a target for people who have demonstrated a hatred of icons other than their own black flag and the book they interpret at will.
Why are we afraid that a handful of fanatics might succeed where the German army of occupation, with all its resources, with all the will of Nazi ideology, yet failed? These recent events, terrible though they are to all caught up in them directly or indirectly, heartrending though we may find them, are insignificant in the stream of history. They make a little splash in the flowing waters of time. Then the waters close over them and flow on.
As I said at the beginning, I’ve always found November to be a sad month. These posts confirm that. But maybe you, dear reader, will have found something interesting, if not so very cheering, to see and read in all the above.
The thing to remember is, we’re on the final stretch of the year now. December lights and the festive season are fast approaching. And then the world will turn and we’ll head into the New Year. Roll on 2022, I say!