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St Peter's 13-18

7 May 2020

Friday marks the 75th anniversary of VE Day, the end of the Second World War in Europe in 1945. While many of the commemorative events and celebrations, which had been planned have had to be cancelled there are still many things taking place to mark the anniversary.

While 75 years ago may seem like a very long time, it is worth keeping in perspective that perhaps it is not that long at all. I was born 28 years after the end of the Second World War and it did not seem that great a distance when I was growing up, not least because the majority of the population were alive at the time.

When I look back to a similar gap today, I found it interesting to note that one of my favourite albums by the Stone Roses was first released 31 years ago, in the same year that I took my GCSEs.  Although I appreciate that to you I am incredibly old, you can trust me that does not seem very long ago either.  With it being the 1980s, I had pretty epic hair which is gradually coming back although I doubt it will reach its length at the time before I have the chance for another haircut. 

All of this has led me to muse on the notion of time, which we all know is relative as much as constant. Time flies when you are having fun and busy and can drag when you are not. I am sure you will have experienced both ends of that spectrum in the last six weeks and hope that the various events and activities which we are taking place are helping you to keep a sense of pace and variety.

We live in a time which in many ways could not be more different to 1945 thanks to all the technology we are using. It is amazing how quickly new clichés have come along thanks to the likes of Zoom and Teams with phrases such as “you’re on mute” and the fun of seeing how people set their background.  In some cases to keep it as neutral as possible or put up fun photographs and show favourite books and possessions in the back of shot.  It is also fun seeing how faces are captured in amusing shapes when people stop the video at the end of the meeting while others seem to have become increasingly adept at setting a “farewell face” which puts them in a better light.

So, very different to 1945 in many ways and yet so incredibly similar. We are doing a lot more cooking and baking from scratch than normal and there is much more of a focus on travelling by foot and bike as well as the simple routines of gardening and housework. No sign yet of any flowers on the wisteria but the rest of the garden at St Catherine’s is looking increasingly fantastic.

TS Eliot, one of my favourite poets, put this idea well in The Four Quartets,

“Time present and time past

Are both perhaps present in time future,

And time future contained in time past.”

So, we are living in a liminal space.  A waiting area between one point in time and space and with awareness of new information expected over the weekend about the length of the lockdown.  Before that though, we have VE Day 75 on Friday. At the end of the Queen’s last broadcast to the nation she referenced the famous war time song by Vera Lynn when she said, “We will meet again”. Her Majesty has asked that the nation sings that song on Friday and it does seem particularly appropriate with some comparing the current situation to being a time of war although this time against the microscopic enemy of coronavirus. A great reminder also of the old saying, “this too shall pass”. This too shall certainly pass and I hope that the opportunity to reflect on that with Friday’s anniversary will be helpful and also that you enjoy the long weekend we are taking for a breather, three weeks into term and two weeks before half term.

Well done on all your doing.  Go well, stay safe and my very best wishes to you and your families.