Apparently, this confluence of 'ones' is somehow significant to some people, and even more so at 11 minutes past 11 o'clock on the 11th day of the 11th month in the 11th year of the second millennium. More of which a little later.
Since as long ago as I can remember, Remembrance Day has had significance for me. All those men (and of course women) who were killed while defending the very idea of freedom from an oppressive ideology. When I was a 'youth' I started to sing with the local chapel choir. It was decided that I should join the 'bass' line, and I was put between two old codgers, Billy Dance and Billy Watson. Billy Dance used to point to the notes as we sang them, he was a common man and an extraordinary gentleman! Bill Watson took his singing more seriously, and he would often sing the bass solos when they came up. He was instrumental in impressing upon me the magnitude of what actually happened in the First, or Great, War. He had been there for some of the famous battles, like the morning when 24,000 'Tommys' were killed in the trenches at Passchendaele (I forget now). If he closed his eyes; he was back there, among his dead and dying friends, the filth and blood, the screaming of men in pieces! He had his left bicep blown off and caught 'a touch' of gas at the same time. If I live to be a hundred; I'll never forget the look of such deep sadness on his face when he eventually decided that he could no longer sing the solo parts in the Easter Cantata, because his voice had 'cracked' on one of the higher notes. Both he and Billy Dance are still missed by those that knew them, we'll not see their like again!
I really feel that I owe it to him (and all his comrades who gave their lives or part of themselves for our freedom in one conflict or another) to remember them on this one special day. (By the way, I think it's iniquitous to have changed it to 'Remembrance Sunday!)
Yesterday, I found myself humming away for most of the day, and it's only this morning that I've made the connection with the song. It was Maddy Prior and it went "And it's tie a yellow handkerchief in remembrance of me, wear it around your neck me boy in flash company". Funny eh?
Well, back to the present day here in Luxor! We had been told (by a visiting friend who somehow knows more about what's going on here than we do!) that there was something special happening at Luxor Temple this morning at 11 o'clock. So Madame Farida duly dispatched your roving reporter to check it out!
As I approached the Temple from the town side, I was a bit taken aback at the number of coaches and mini-buses in the coach park Evidently the cruiseboats must be getting busier, Alhamdulillah! (A Luxor, and general Arabic, colloquialism; a bit like Hallelujah or Praise be to God for whatever he brings to us.) I had a squint over the wall by the entrance and everything looked just about normal; tour groups being ushered around by clipboard waving guides etc.
As I made my way around the back of the 'Public Stage', where all the revolutionary gatherings have been taking place this year, I did notice that it was suffering from the usual Egyptian problem of neglect! It's actually showing signs of falling to pieces, how strange?
It wasn't until I got right around to the Corniche side of the Temple, that I saw them, inside the hypostyle hall, at the back side. I would estimate about 100 people gathered? Judge for yourselves:
As the gathering started to break up, it became apparent that there had been a number who were sitting on the ground, in the middle of the group. I was intrigued by the strange headdresses of some of those congregated there, and by the fact that many of them had had their shoes off? Some ladies were wandering among the crowd, hugging and kissing anyone who would let them, of course the few Egyptians who were there were all for that! The tourists seemed to be bemused by it all as their guides tried to shoo them along to the next point of interest.
I've no idea what they were looking for, or what experience they craved or found, here in the ancient Temple of Luxor (the hippies, I mean) but I hope that they at least remembered that their freedom to congregate and to hold their own beliefs (however strange) was hard won for them by men and women who were prepared to give their all.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Have a nice weekend, everyone.