Wednesday, May 16, 2007

But to start off: something nice.

Britain's oldest man shares his memories of WG Grace playing cricket. Or more precisely, seeing WG Grace.

"He faced a few balls and everyone gave him a big hand, but the thing I really remember is the lunch and the tea, and that there was plenty of sunshine,” Allingham said.

Still

No doubt many four-year-olds today who are lucky enough to see Ricky Ponting, Muttiah Muralitharan and Ashley Giles* play also remember only the sandwiches and the weather.

It's worth noting, of course, that he was at both the Battle of Jutland and the Somme.

This is the sort of thing that fascinates me about history, no matter what the subject there are people like Allingham whose memories provide a slender thread that leads us back slowly into all the complexities of the past. And it's this indirect connection that keeps us fascinated by leading us back into the passions and hopes that produced the world in which we find ourselves.

Except to keep up the metaphor , if you follow the thread backwards, it can lead you read back into the labyrinthine horrors and beasts of the past and set us to fighting old battles again. It's a danger of caring too much about the past, this unappeasable wish to change things that happened long ago. So with this is mind, let's not make Henry Allingham a myth, rather enjoy all his memories. He'd probably rather talk about cricket and how he can't find his way round London anymore than World War I in any case.

*Just thought I'd improve upon the original article. It's a natural instinct.

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