440In this blogposting...
* More of St Cuthbert's Forgotten Heroes
* The Piper
Proceed at your own pace...
ST CUTHBERT’S FORGOTTEN HEROESThe story of St Cuthbert’s unmemorialised and neglected descendants continues.
In the Comments box of the last blog, Brenda suggested that Grace Darling deserves a statue or sculpture somewhere in the north-east, and I agree with her. The only memorial to her that I’m aware of is her tomb (above) in Bamburgh churchyard - which is all very well. But surely something that befits her truly legendary heroism is long overdue.
Brenda also mentions the Venerable Bede…
This is the man, remember, who not only wrote the first book in the English language but also devised the system of year-numbering which we still use today. It’s down to Bede that we call this year '2013'. A ‘wooden thing’ in Jarrow (or even his elaborate tomb in Durham Cathedral (above)) however aesthetic, aren't enough.
A neighbour of mine has also suggested that Charles Avison, Newcastle’s own Handel, deserves to have more than a street named after him on a run-down estate. A life-size statue outside the Lit and Phil (where many of his musical manuscripts are held) seems in order.
A splendid photo of Sir Joseph Wilson Swan
The Lit and Phil was also the venue for the world’s first demonstration of an incandescent light bulb, invented by local lad Sir Joseph Wilson Swan. Nearby Mosley Street was the first in the world to be lit by electric light. And yet, as far as I know, his only memorial is an almost invisible plaque on the wall of a derelict sports shop.
Peter from South Shields has suggested that statues of Jeremiah Dixon (from Cockfield) and Thomas Wright (of Westerton) should be adorning South Durham’s environment.
Dixon helped to survey the old dividing line between the northern and southern states of the Union - the Mason-Dixon line - and is thought to have bequeathed his name to ‘dixie’-land.
Wright built one of England’s first-ever observatories in the 18th century - now called the Westerton Folly. Unbelievably, this early astronomy genius - the first man to properly identify the Milky Way - is utterly uncommemorated locally.
An unidentified emailer called ‘denizen’ has also suggested that Thomas Bewick deserves more than the small memorial bust at Amen Corner in Newcastle.
And finally, I’d like to add another two-pen’orth. William Wouldhave and Henry Greathead (wonderful names) jointly invented one of mankind’s greatest philanthropic assets - the lifeboat. A replica of it stands at the bottom of Ocean Road in South Shields, their home town. But where is the monumental statue of them that should, by rights, show them looking proudly out to sea from the Sandhaven?
My thanks to Brenda for sending me this deeply moving story. Sadly, the name of the story-teller isn’t known.
‘As a bagpiper, I play many gigs.
Recently I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man. He had no family or friends, so the service was to be at a pauper's cemetery in the Scottish Highlands.
As I was not familiar with the area, I got lost and - being a typical man - I didn't stop to ask for directions.
I finally arrived an hour late and saw that the undertaker had evidently gone and the hearse was nowhere in sight. There were only the diggers and crew left and they were eating lunch.
I felt bad and apologised to the men for being late.
I went to the side of the grave and looked down. The vault lid was already in place. I didn't know what else to do, so I started to play.
The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around.
I played my heart and soul out for this man with no family and friends.
I played like I've never played before for this homeless man, and as I played Amazing Grace, the workers began to weep.
They wept and I, too, wept.
When I had finished, I packed up my bagpipes and started for my car. Though my head hung low, my heart was full.
As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say
“I’ve never seen anything like that before and I've been putting in septic tanks for over twenty years."’
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