A new life at 67.Can a woman start all over again?

Archive for the ‘Heroes’ Category


I lost my heart again last night.

He stood,just a few feet in front of me,dressed in black,plucked his guitar and said, rather than sang in a voice that left no woman doubting that this was a real man;

“Take the ribbon from your hair”

Kris Kristofferson,the All American Rebel,sang at the Zürich Summer Festival,”Live at Sunset” last night and I was lucky enough to be able to sit in the middle of the front row.

It was as though he was singing just for me.

He was 72 last month,and he is still looking for freedom.

After “Me and Bobby Mc Gee” the world knew who he was,and he is still there.

Many have coveted his songs,but the chords, and the stanza are so well knitted that the songs are more difficult to interpret than they seem.

Maybe his voice hasn’t got the fullness that it used to have,and his guitar playing didn’t stick to the rules,but then one of the fingers of his right hand was bleeding enough for us to see just after the interval.

He passed off the weaknesses ,with his old charm and humour.Even stated ,when he repeatedly had to pick up a handkerchief, that he thought we were paying a lot of money “To watch an old fart blow his nose”


But he can still write songs,maybe I should say he can still write poems for the simple man, poetry that gets his message across. He should be able to,he won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University and studied Literature at Merton College. During his time with the US Airforce they wanted him to teach the subject at West Point Military Academy.But Kris is the pacifist son of a General and it was 1965.

And yesterday evening, so many years after Janis Joplin sang “Me and Bobby McGee” his followers in Zürich still love him.

He says he wants to compose and sing until they shovel dirt on his coffin.

He also knows what words he wants chiseled on his grave stone,- from colleague Leonard Cohen,

” Like a bird on a wire,

 like a drunk in a midnight choir,

 I have tried in my way to be free”


Were You There?

Were you around in 1968?
I was, and it is one of the few things that make life today tolerable. The fact that I lived through the years that moved history.

40 years ago today on the 3rd of May 1968,students of the Sorbonne University in Paris occupied the building.It was the beginning of events that led to a general streik in France and sowed the heterogeneous seed that changed our society.

Looking back it is difficult to define what exactly happened,the movement was dissimilar and mostly unorganised. The moved were young,creative,spontane,and questioned everything established in the world. It was a apart from certain street riots a quiet revolution,but it changed the world.

68 a painfully beautiful year full of diamonds and rust.

The Musical “The Diary of Anne Frank”

Those of you that read my post “Prinsengracht 263” will know that I am moved by the story of Anne Frank.

13 year old Isabela Castillo as Anne Frank

For weeks Anne Franks picture has been smiling from the posters in Madrid,Spain.

“El diario de Ana Frank:Un canto a la vida”

On Thursday the Anne Frank musical opened at the Teatro Caldéron, sponsered by the U.S Ice Cream Manufactures Haagen Dazs.

It was hailed as a “moving show for the whole family”.

There are no Mugs or T Shirts for sale.

Anne Frank as a Musical? Should that be?

Civil Courage in the Catholic Church. A woman speaks up.

Monika Schmid is head of the Catholic Community in the town that I live.

A Woman. It is difficult to find enough Catholic Priests these days in a country where half the population is Catholic.

Maybe people can’t believe in the preachings of the Catholic Church any more. In a five minute TV programme which runs just after the main news and before the evening peak viewing starts on a Saturday, representatives of the religious communities in the German speaking part of Switzerland alternately are asked to talk on some theme for thought on Sunday.
Monika Schmid was chosen lately, and she had the courage to sock it to 630’000 viewers in a true Harper Valley P.T.A. manner.

Based on the latest scandal in which yet again a Catholic Priest had abused a child and had been “hidden” by the Church in a small out of the way Parish.

Frau Schmid found it unbelievable that Priests who break the rules of celibacy must leave the Church and others that sexually abuse young boys are at least for a time hidden and may continue their role in a Parish. It was no wonder that the Church had fewer followers.

She was of course summoned to an audience with her Bishop.

I would say a woman was needed in the Vatican.

Prinsengracht 263, last home of Annelies Marie “Anne” Frank

Amsterdam, 23 February 1944

“From my favourite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare Chestnut tree on whose branches little raindrops shine,appearing like silver,and at the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind.

As long as this exists I thought and I may live to see it,this sunshine,the cloudless skies,while this lasts I cannot be unhappy.”

The fourteen year old Jewish girl wrote these words in her now world famous diary. Daily she would look out of the attic window in the Prinsengracht.It was the only one that wasn’t blacked out in the tiny warehouse hiding place of her family and four friends, on to the Chestnut tree. It gave her strength through the twenty five monthes confinement during the German occupation of the Netherlands by just being there.

Anne would look at it and note the changing foliage from season to season.
It was bare when they came for her in February 1945.

She died early March of Typhoid Fever in the German concentration camp Bergen-Belsen, a few days after her sister. She was fifteen.

The Chestnut tree lived, and is still there so many years after. But it was sentenced to die on the 21st of November 2007. Some experts said it was old and sick and couldn’t be saved. Others said it could but they had little weight in the matter.

I don’t know what has happened to Anne’s tree.

Photo:Peter Dejong

“Lest we forget” it’s Armistice day again.

On the eleventh day of November 1918, at the eleventh hour, the Armistice Treaty that ended the the first World War was signed. They hoped it would be the last. It wasn’t.

Next Sunday we will remember those who took part and died in the wars of the last century,and the soldiers who are still dying today for their country right or wrong today.

The last line of Rudyard Kipling’ s poem Recessional is known by all.

The words of his poem apply more than ever today, the third verse especially.

Rudyard Kipling was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature,exactly a hundred years ago. He lost his only son in WWI.

“Far called our navies melt away.

On dune and headland sinks the fire,

Lo, all our pomp of yesterday

Is one with Nineveh and Tyre.

Judge of the nations, spare us yet,

Lest we forget-lest we forget.

Armistice-In Flanders’field

“For the Fallen”

“They shall not grow old,as we who are left grow old,

Age will not weary them,or the years comdemn.

At the going down of the sun,and in the morning,

We will remember them.”
Laurence Binyon .1914

These words were engraved on a wooden plaque fixed to a wall of the Aula in one of my first schools. Underneath was a large wooden plaque telling us the names of Teachers and Pupils from Stepgates who had fallen in two world wars.

On November the 11th we will remember the fallen again. Some of us may wear a red poppy, others will just remember.

In London an ageing Queen will lay a wreath at the foot of the Cenotaph in Whitehall, and a handfull of Veterans will try and straighten their backs, shakingly salute, and with tears in their eyes march by.

Britain, the Commonwealth, and the USA will remember the Armistice, of 1918 and in many Churches services will be held to this purpose.

But according to an article in a London paper last Saturday,there are members of the Clergy who feel they can’t hold these services any more because they conflict with the ideolgy and lives of congregational members from other countries and cultures living in Britain. Must we all forget.?

“In Flanders’ field the poppies grow,

between the Crosses row on row.

We shall not sleep though Poppies grow

in Flanders’ fields.”

Lt,Col. John Mc Crea . Canadian Army 1872-1915

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