Tag Archives: Author: Jon Magee

History, and his story by Jon Magee

a (6)

Is it an accident that history is made of letters that remind us of “his story”? There is much within history, but we learn lessons when we see the people in the midst

As we reflect through the ages there are some things that will strike us for differing reasons. In the UK the 2nd of June will be remembered for the coronation of the Queen in 1953. Following the death of her father Queen Elizabeth II was formally crowned as The Queen with hundreds of millions listening on radio and for the first time people watched the coronation proceedings on live television. After the coronation ceremony in Westminster Abbey, millions of rain-drenched spectators cheered the 27-year-old queen born in 1926 and her husband, the 30-year-old duke of Edinburgh, as they passed along a five-mile procession route in a gilded horse-drawn carriage. I wonder if it was part of cementing the connection of my family in history that I have a family photo taken whilst in Singapore, dated on the back was the 2nd June 1953. My own father-in-law, a soldier with the Black Watch regiment, was flown back from his service in Korea to take part in the procession and celebrations in London. Once again, it was a personal role in history and a part of history in “his story”.

The same date will also be remembered for the Surveyor 1 moon landing on the 2nd June 1966. This was the first US space probe to land on the moon as “Surveyor 1” had a soft landing on Moon. Though the Russians had landed earlier, the newspapers headlines, internationally, were full of the event. I lived in Aden, Yemen, at the time during the military conflict and terrorism at the end of the British presence. We listened as the news came on the radio. It was a time of celebration as man reached to the stars, yet down the road from where we listened to the radio could be heard the sound of explosions and gun fire.

In my previous post, you will have noted the 2nd June was also the date on which my wife Joan and I were married. It was a landmark day for us as a couple, whatever may be happening in the history of the world. I recall talking with Joan, noting that my youth had been lived in the military hot spots of the world. However, things will be different now, I said. Our 1st posting together would be in a romantic Mediterranean island, with all the stories of Aphrodite. Is there any better way to start married life, it must be like an extended honeymoon? That was 1973, however, we were there a year and there was a military coup and the Turkish invasion.

Life does not always develop how we intend it to do. We look back and reflect, seeking to learn the lessons of history. We look forward and make our plans, even if we do not know what surprises or shocks will appear on the way. Life inevitably is full of lessons to learn and steps of faith, even if we do not consider ourselves to be people of faith, not knowing what the future will gift to us.

There are times when we personally have known the tragedy of death, and the joy of new life. I do not know how you plan to face the unknown, but for us it has been one where the faith in the God of life has been the source of enabling as we reached the turning points of history, both in the cradle of the world as well as our family life. My writings have been demonstrations of life in tough times, yet they have sought to find ways of showing the possibility of hopefulness, even when life may seem hopeless. My hope is that the reader will also discover hope, wherever you may be in history or reaching to the future.

Bio

Jon Magee is the author of 2 books, “From Barren Rocks to Living Stones” and “Paradise Island, heavenly Journey”. The books come with the experience of life lived in a variety of countries throughout the world, often in the midst of military conflict and terrorism, which was the heart of his life from an early age. He is the wife of Joan, the father of 3 daughters, 2 sons and the grandfather of 7 children.

About Music …

Music moves us. Whether it be to make us happy, sad, or (in some rare cases) violent, music affects our emotions. The authors of the Write Room have shared their thoughts and feelings about music and how it shapes our lives. (Dellani Oakes)

b

Daddy’s Music by Linda Palmer

I didn’t realize how cool my daddy was until after my mother died and we had him to ourselves for five years. He was very quiet; Mother was the go-between. Yet without me realizing it, he made me who I am today. A huge influence was his love for music. Daddy, who played alto sax in high school, loved the sounds of Lawrence Welk, Paul Mauriat, James Last, Leroy Anderson, and Mantovani. He was also into Broadway musicals, so my sisters and I still know every word of Camelot, My Fair Lady, Oklahoma, South Pacific and a slew of others. Daddy went from vinyls, to eight-tracks, to tapes, to CDs, with quadraphonic in there somewhere. He had great sound systems in his cars, and I loved long Sunday afternoon rides listening to whatever musical score was his favorite at the time. (Can anyone else out there recognize every song from Midnight Cowboy?)

I’m eternally grateful for his eclectic tastes, which ultimately impacted mine. There aren’t many music genres I don’t like, and I’m always up for listening to something new. So thanks, Daddy. You get full credit for the chills I get when music truly moves me. I just wish you hadn’t pawned your saxophone to pay down on a house all those years ago. I’d love to hear you play it.

 

Let the music play on by by Jon Magee

“If music be the food of love, play on”, wrote William Shakespeare (Twelfth Night Act 1, scene 1, 1–3)

Music has the ability to move us—our memories and our imaginations. So many times, I’ve heard a song on the radio, on a commercial, or during a movie, and found myself transported to another place and time. The lyrics and the melody remind me of a moment I’ve experienced, a memory I haven’t recalled for ages, and I’ll feel everything that I felt back then.

I am not musical in terms of having the ability to play any musical instrument, but I do have an appreciation of music and have enjoyed the listening to it from an early age. I have no doubt that music has been a great means of communicating to the world in many ways. When I am writing, I have often used the memory of music and singing as a means of setting the scene for an era, or to bring out the expressions of emotions set in the heart of the characters whether it is the expression of love or the feelings of sadness.

Even the Philosopher of the 1960’s, Mr Michael Jagger, used the medium of song as he shared his philosophy of life with those who supported him. Along with a group called “The Rolling Stones” he sang “You can’t always get what you want, You can’t always get what you want , You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime you find you get what you need”. Clearly that would be true in many other walks of life. Looking back through the ages it was the singing of particular songs that became the heart of the peace movements and many political campaigns too, as well as the religious revivals through the ages. When people recall the Wesleyan revivals they would often equate it with the music of the Wesley brother and Toplady. Likewise the same vein may be applied to the Welsh Revival, and not forgetting how Moody is a name that is still linked to Sankey.

Music is also the great leveller of life too. Our singing abilities may not be as good as others, but the needs expressed will be something that can touch us all in one form or another as we sing or listen. We all identify with the words “all you need is love” as the Beatles put it. Perhaps we can identify with Buddy Holly as he sang of his personal unrequited love experience with Peggy Sue. (Peggy Sue was not a made up name, it was a real person who he knew in his life.) Can we not also sense the heartbreak of the New York mining tragedy as the Bee Gees sang “Have you seen my wife Mr Jones? Do you know what it’s like on the outside?” Music will bring out the cheer and also the tears. In our music will come our humanity and the road many of us take in human life. But above everything, may music be the food of love in our lives!

c

Mood Music by Patricia Dusenbury

I listen to music while writing. Jeff Buckley’s audible exhale at the beginning of Hallelujah stops me cold. I hold my breath, waiting for him to begin singing. The line “…all I’ve ever learned from love is how to shoot somebody who outdrew you,” evokes thoughts of love as a power struggle, the things vulnerable humans do to each other. I’m reminded that some things, once broken, cannot be fixed. I’m ready to write about grief and the pain of love lost or, worse, thrown away.

Cole Porter said that Night and Day was about obsession, not love. Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald et al. sang it as a love song, but not U2. Their version captures passion that defies reason. In the video, Bono slides a razor blade across his thumb. I listen and write about physical attraction that overwhelms common sense, love as a form of insanity.

It’s not all noir. I also use music to evoke time and place. My mysteries are set in New Orleans and the bayou country. Jazz, blues, Dixieland or zydeco – it depends upon what I’m trying to write. I put on the music, listen, and I’m back there. Ditto the songs popular when I was in high school and college.

There’s one vivid musical memory I’ve not used – not yet. Years ago, I walked into an ice cream parlor in Palm Springs. Three middle-aged women (younger than I am now) sat at the counter, eating overpriced ice cream. They licked it off their spoons with evident pleasure, while Tom Jones’ What’s New Pussycat played on the jukebox. Whenever I hear that song, I see those women, and I smile. One day, they’ll be in a book.

 

As a child, Patricia Dusenbury read under the covers into the wee hours. Despite sleep deprivation, she managed to get through college and a career as an economist. Now retired, she hopes to atone for all those dry reports by writing novels that people read for pleasure. 

Her first book, A Perfect Victim, won the 2015 EPIC (Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition) award for best mystery. The sequel, Secrets, Lies & Homicide, was a top ten finisher in the Preditors and Editors Readers Poll. A House of Her Own, which will be released October 16, completes the trilogy. http://patriciadusenbury.com/

a

Timpani by Kenneth Weene

My Junior High School Music teacher pulled me aside and offered a simple solution to our dilemma. “Kenneth, don’t sing, just mouth the words and I’ll give you a passing grade.”

Thankful to end the embarrassment of all heads turning towards me whenever I hit a “note” that had never been heard before, I agreed to acoustic exile.

In boarding school I tried out for the chorus, which shared concerts and dances with girls’ schools. The chorus director assured me if ever he found a piece of music that included my one note repertoire he’d add me to the roster.

Not being able to sing didn’t dampen my love of music. I think I know when somebody else is on tune. I love the sense of tempo, especially when timpani lead the way, which immediately suggests classical music. Not surprisingly, my favorite composers are from Eastern Europe. Dvořák, Bartok, Scriabin, Shostakovich, and Mahler are my big five. Say Slavic music and I’m ready not just to listen but viscerally take part—feet tapping, hands waving, and head bobbing. Drawing on my Junior High lesson, I sit at the rear of a section where my gyrations won’t disturb others.

Driving is one of the better times to listen to music although I do have to be careful not to take my hands of the wheel and conduct or tap the rhythm on the gas pedal.

Driving through the Rocky Mountain National Park my musical selection was Mahler. Perhaps Dvořák would have been a better choice, The New World Symphony, but I love the sweeping grandeur of Mahler and it went perfectly with the majesty of the mountains. We rounded a bend. Grazing in a small meadow was a herd of elk. The music, the mountains, and the elk came together in the moment.

Without thought or care, I began to sing along. The inhibitions learned in adolescence dropped away and for the moment I was one with the music.

Which brings us to the most important part of that sacred moment. My wife did not cover her ears. She did not stare at me and shake her head. No, she smiled sweetly and said nothing.

Finally, when we had passed the elk and the last notes of that symphony had faded from the CD player, she commented. “That’s a relief. The way you were singing I thought one of those bulls was going to get in the car and try to mate with you.”

 

Writer, poet, and social commentator Kenneth Weene is generally an easygoing fellow, but arm him with an imaginary baton and chaos can ensue. You can find Ken’s books at http://www.amazon.com/Kenneth-Weene/e/B002M3EMWU

 

Transported by Music by Trish Jackson

Music truly is the language of the soul. I can’t imagine anyone in the world not being moved to tears at least few times in their lives by a musical score or a song. Music brings back memories; music calms us; music ignites a flame in us. To quote Wordsworth. ‘Music is the universal language of mankind.’

Music also has a way of transporting us to another place and time. Every now and then you may hear a song you haven’t heard for years, and immediately be taken back to the time when the song meant something to you. You can clearly picture the scene and even smell the scent of it.

I grew up in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) Africa, where every young person in the entire country—or so it seemed—listened to the LM Hit Parade on Sunday nights, broadcast from Lourenco Marques (now Maputo) in Mozambique.

I was a boarder at high school because our farm was too far away from any town for commuting. Like any boarding school, we had to obey some strict rules. Radios were not allowed to be on after lights out, and in those days they didn’t come with earphones. Armed with a flashlight and a sharp tongue, the duty matron patrolled the dorms in the dark, and if a radio was on, it was confiscated for the rest of the semester.

Only the seniors were allowed to have the radio on after lights out expressly to hear the LM Hit Parade on a Sunday night. It took a while, but I finally made it to my senior year. At the time in 1969, songs like Soldier Boy by the Shirelles, Crystal Blue Persuasion and Crimson and Clover by Tommy James and the Shondells, and Touch Me by the Doors were somewhere near the top, and whenever I hear any of those songs, I am back to our dorm in the darkness. I can still feel the excitement as the countdown progressed.

In 1974, the radio station was closed down during the Portuguese revolution, and the facilities were nationalized. I thought that was the end of it, but surprisingly, with the advent of the Internet and Internet radio stations, it has since been revived, and they play all the old songs from their former era. http://www.lmradio.net/streaming.html

 

Trish Jackson writes rural romantic suspense and romantic comedy, which always includes pets. www.trishjackson.com

d

Inappropriate Musical Tastes by Dellani Oakes

I have inappropriate musical tastes for a woman my age. There, I’ve said it. It’s out in the open…. Apparently, I should be a fan of Michael Bublé and Harry Connick, Jr. While I like some of their music, it certainly isn’t my favorite, or even in my top five. Okay, let’s be honest, not even in my top twenty. However, women of a certain age, are expected to like certain things, but I don’t fall into that category.

That sort of misconception started in my late thirties. I had to go for an extended MRI, nearly three hours of thudding and clanking, because I’d developed tinnitus in my left ear. When I got there, the young men running the test asked me what I wanted to listen to.

“What do you have?”

They listed off a few albums and I wrinkled my nose.

“Got anything good?”

“We’ve got some Steely Dan,” one remarked, somewhat hesitantly.

“Which album?”

“Um… Aja and Greatest Hits.”

“That sounds good. Anything else?”

They had some Jethro Tull, but that was as exotic as the choices were. Good enough, far better than the other things they offered. They were pleased, because they mostly had to listen to Big Band and Buddy Holly all day.

“It’s good to have someone in here who appreciates good music,” the other told me as he set up the CD player.

However, when I had to go back a few years later, for an MRI on my neck, the girl didn’t even ask. She put the radio on easy listening. Radio in the first place, not my choice. Too many commercials. And easy listening? Do I look like I want easy listening? Where is the Hendrix, the Zeppelin? Bring on the Floyd! A pox on easy listening! It puts me into a pop induced coma in which I shall surely languish until someone plays metal.

I’ve decidedly surprised people with my eclectic musical tastes. On one such occasion, I had to go get my tires rotated. I’d been listening to a Rammstein CD in the car, and had left it cued up to the song I wanted to hear on my way home. I didn’t think about the fact that someone would turn on the car and have it blast from the speakers when they moved it to the service area. I was in the waiting room, reading my book, when the young mechanic walked in, looking expectant.

“Black Kia Optima?”

I stood up and he took a step back, clutching his chest.

“Wow, not what I expected,” he said with a grin.

“Why?” I wasn’t sure if I should be offended or not.

“Well, based on the CD in the car, I thought it would be some guy my age.” He laughed loudly. “You don’t really look the type.”

“Oh, what type do I look?” The challenging tone was unmistakable.

He chuckled, taking another step back. “Not the type to like heavy metal. What band is that?”

“A German group called Rammstein.”

“It’s really good. I hope you don’t mind that I listened to it while I worked on the car.”

“Not at all! I’m glad you liked it.”

“I’m gonna look for more of their music. That’s some good stuff.” He smiled, shaking his head. “Really wouldn’t peg you for listening to that kind of music.”

I took a step toward him, talking quietly. “I also like Jimi Hendrix, Rob Zombie, Metallica, Nine Inch Nails and Iron Maiden.”

“No shit?” I didn’t think I could have shocked him more if I’d put 50,000 volts through him.

 

I wrote this while listening (inappropriately) to Rammstein, Nine Inch Nails, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Tool, The Diamond Light, Pink Floyd, Noah Gundersen, X Ambassadors with Jamie N. Commons, and Marilyn Manson. Would you like a play list?

Dellani Oakes is a (mostly) appropriate author who thinks inappropriate thoughts as she listens to music she shouldn’t like. How do you know when Dellani is awake and working? There’s music playing, (inappropriately loudly).

Life is full of surprises! by Jon Magee

 

Queen-Victoria-image

A few years back a British singer was known for singing a song “Life is full of surprises”. The reality is that life is not always as it seems.

My grandmother would often recall stories of her youth, as I am sure is the case with a lot of elderly people. Her maiden name was Gunn, and as her father worked for the royal family at the time  in the late 19th century she could remember the walks she would take with him through the Queens estate. It was always with great excitement that she would  get herself ready for these outings as her dad would show her around the estate that he was so familiar with. On one such occasion she even recalled meeting the Queen, who was also out on her estate. Queen Victoria looked my Great Grand father in the eye and addressed him by name as she said “Good Morning Mr Gunn”. She then turned to the wee girl, my Grand Mother, and said “Good morning little Miss Pistol”. Could that really be true? The one who has been remembered in history by the quote “we are not amused”? Could the reputation the monarch had of being very serious have been hiding a measure of humour?

It is just a few years back that the UK national newspapers featured an item concerning an art exhibition at Buckingham Palace. The main feature was a rarely displayed painting known as “the secret picture” by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, which Queen Victoria commissioned in 1843 as a surprise present for Prince Albert’s 24th birthday, to hang in his writing room at Windsor. The painting, which now hangs in private rooms at Buckingham Palace, shows the Queen in an intimate, alluring pose, leaning against a red cushion with her hair unraveled from its usual tight bun. On Victorian standards it would be seen as being very risqué, and was intended to be for Prince Albert’s eyes only. So, was their more to this lady than just the usual pictures we are familiar with, the lady  dressed in black with her hair tied in a bun?

A school I attended as a teenager was moving premises and I was assigned the task of clearing out a cupboard in preparation for the move. I was amazed as I stumbled across an extremely old newspaper dated January 1901. The front page headline was simple, yet dramatic, “QUEEN IS DEAD!” As one would expect, much of the paper related to the official public life of the Queen. However, they seemed to have a regular children’s column, and as such gave the children an insight into the childhood experience of Victoria. Here is a story from a young Victoria that I found to be of interest.

victorian doll

Victoria was walking through the streets of London one day when she saw the most beautiful doll that she had ever seen. One look and she knew she needed to have it as her own. Imagine her disappointment when her mother refused to buy it for her. There is no doubt that her mother could have afforded it, but she knew that Victoria needed to learn the value of money and insisted that she must save up her weekly pocket money if she really wanted the doll.

Eventually she had saved enough and excitedly went  for her purchase. The doll was still there, but so was a poor man sitting in the door way. He had little money, looked poorly fed, and was wearing torn clothing. She felt sorry for him, but at that moment she was on a mission for a doll. She squeezed past him looking in the opposite direction and made her purchase. Success! The problem was leaving without feeling guilty that she had spent money on a doll when a man before her had no money for food. After a short hesitation, she asked the shop keeper if he would buy the doll back, and her money was handed from the future Queen into the hands of a poor man in need.

I am conscious that each of these stories reveal something that does not fit with the image many would have of the life of the Queen. Yet, is it not true that for many of us there is a public image we portray for professional purposes, yet our private life may be completely different. We all like to keep some aspect of our life locked away, separated from the rest of our life. Perhaps this is equally true for those in public leadership today. We feel we know them, they come into our living rooms each day through the the television, but do we really know them as they really are?

Author of “From Barren Rocks to Living Stones” & “Paradise Island, Heavenly Journey” http://about.me/Jonmagee.author.minister

 

“I wish it could be Christmas every day” by Jon Magee

 

a

Happy Christmas every body!

Yes, I know this seems to be a bit on the early side, however, as this item is being published it will be Christmas that I will be celebrating along with many others. It will be a time of sharing Christmas meals and the pulling of the traditional Christmas crackers. There will be the singing of Christmas songs and the festive joy. The town puts on a Christmas treat to the elderly of the town on the third Wednesday of December, so along with the committee my wife and I will be mingling with hundreds of folks who are over 70 years of age as they enjoy a Christmas meal and concert. Many of them do not manage to get out regularly due to health issues relating to age, so this is a unique time for them to interact with their peers, to reminisce, relax and revel in the joy of it all.

It is Christmas, even if its not the 25th December. December is, of course, a month that will include many other social events. We will be having a children’s party for the Parent and Toddlers group. That should be fun with the children enjoying the games. Then there will be the Christmas meal with the Bowlers, and the same with the men’s drop in, with the opportunity of good company. The list of events seems to be endless, and such a variety of the kind of people and age groups involved. Yet, for all of that, it is the senior citizens event that I prefer to focus on with regard to the social aspects of Christmas. Why?

When I lived in Edinburgh I recall a project I was involved in that required me to go from door to door visiting the residents. I found one lady very helpful and quite pleasant and appreciated how receptive she was to what we were discussing. As I prepared to leave she called me back to enquire as to whether I planned to  visit her neighbour. On my confirmation that I would she advised, “Do note that she is elderly and hard of hearing, and if she does hear the knock at the door she will be quite slow in walking, so take your time”. I thanked her, its always good to hear of such good neighbourliness, taking time to ensure she did not miss out on the visit. I knocked loudly and waited, and waited, and waited. It was just as well I was warned, I thought, she really is taking a long time.It was at this point that a car pulled up and the driver called across. “Are you looking for ‘Mrs Smith’, because if so you will be waiting a long time”. I confirmed that I had been made aware that ‘Mrs Smith’ was both deaf and also very slow moving, and understood she would need to take her time. “No, you do not understand”, he said, “You see, what I was meaning is that ‘Mrs Smith’ died 3 months ago. She will never answer that door again for anyone.” I was astounded. The neighbour I thought was so caring did not know that ‘Mrs Smith’ had died 3 months previously. There was a superficial sense of caring, but clearly she had not given time to her on a regular basis. The real need had escaped her attention. On reflection, I would guess that could have happened in any city. We nod, we smile in the passing, but so often no one has time to get to know each other, and when we fail to give the time we fail to care adequately.

So, coming back to Christmas. The gathering of these elderly people in a safe environment means an opportunity to know peace, love and joy, important elements in the Christmas story. Tomorrow, they may see no one, but today they see everyone and enjoy every moment of it. In 1973 the pop group “Wizzard” recorded the record “I wish it could be Christmas every day”. It was destined to be high in the British pop charts for for weeks over December 1973 to January 1974. I am not sure I agree with all the words of the lyrics, but I guess that the title encapsulates the words I want to express. I wish that every day we could find a way to bring together those who need such care. I wish that every day we could be a society that can share the love, joy and peace that’s at the heart of the Christmas message.
Author of “From Barren Rocks to Living Stones” & “Paradise Island, Heavenly Journey” http://about.me/Jonmagee.author.minister

From destroyer to builder by Jon Magee

™™Lancaster-Bomber

As I approached the funeral of Jim I was conscious that there was more to this elderly gentleman than most would have given him credit for. So often the professionals will see the elderly with the limitations that are currently visible, when they will often have so much filed away in their lives that reveal a wealth of experience. In Jim, they would have seen a man limited with many of the health issues that come with age. His speech had become limited, his thinking appeared to have slowed so much. His walking had also slowed down quite considerably. Yet despite that he was still being underestimated. I was fortunate because I had the opportunity to get to know him through the years, and there were so many positive memories I had discovered within his life.

I recall the time whilst in hospital he was in a ward where some of the patients were prone to wander. For their security a pin number was required to be able to use the exit doors, yet somehow Jim managed to escape. The staff hunted throughout the hospital, concerned for his safety and welfare. Eventually he was found enjoying a cup of coffee, relaxing in the hospital cafe. He was oblivious to the concerns the staff had for him. When asked how he managed to leave the ward he slowly said “I watched the guards as they used their codes”. He was a Prisoner of War during the 2nd World War, and was clearly recounting that this was nothing new in his experiences. The German guards were unable to keep him, and neither was the simple security system of a hospital.

Jim was well past retirement age when I came to know him, yet he was still able to communicate and make a valuable contribution to a conversation. He would come to the Church each Sunday Morning armed with a pocketful of sweets, passing them around the congregation before the service began. He would note what were the interests of the young people, and give them a gift of musical Cd’s or aircraft model kits. His generosity was beyond compare.

On a Friday morning, Jim would make his way to the “Coffee Mates”. It was a weekly drop in facility for men run by the church, and open to any men in the community. He enjoyed this opportunity to meet with other men, socialising over a cup of coffee. Often he would recall his youth in Fraserburgh, in the North of Scotland near Aberdeen. He would speak of the fishermen he knew, and the poems he remembered being spoken in the Doric, (The Doric is the popular name given to the dialect in the North East of Scotland.)

However, even more he remembered the experiences of the war, which had had a profound effect on his life. He was air crew, flying Lancaster Bombers over Italy and Germany and could still recount tremendous details. During World War II the Lancaster was the most successful bomber used by the Royal Air Force and the Royal Canadian Air Force. The Lancaster had speed, ceiling, and lifting power that no other aircraft of the day could match. Weighing 36,900 pounds empty, the Lancaster was capable of taking off with an additional 33,100 pounds of fuel and bombs; in other words it could almost carry its own weight again. Lancasters were built to accomplish their specific purpose and crew comfort and security was clearly a secondary consideration. Generally flying under the cover of darkness, the Lancaster had virtually no defensive armour. The front, mid-upper, and rear gun turrets were hydraulically powered and carried a total of eight .303 calibre machine guns for defence against enemy aircraft.

Lancaster_over_Hamburg

He also spoke of the personal anguish he felt as he thought of the devastation he was responsible for from each bombing raid, and the feeling of guilt knowing he would need to return and repeat the bombing another time. It was one dark night that those bombing raids for him were to come to an end. They had received a direct hit and each member of the crew knew this was the end of their war. They knew the risks were always great, of the total of 7,377 Lancaster’s built, 3,932 were lost in action. There was little time to waste as they abandoned the aircraft and parachuted to the ground. Of the 7 man crew only 5 were to survive, yet it was invariably the 2 who died that would come to his mind, they were his friends and friendship ran deep when living in such cramped and dangerous conditions.

As he was captured and taken to the POW camp he made a vow he was determined to keep. There had been too much destruction, too much death, whether it be his friends or the people on the ground. Following the war he was determined things would be different. Every thing he did in the future needed to be a work of building, not destroying, he was determined life has to be better and all his resources needed to be aimed in that direction. Will he achieve his vow?

Following the war, Jim devoted himself to studying and training to ensure he gave his goal its best shot, and nothing would sway him from his intention. His last post prior to retirement was as the borough surveyor in the neighbouring town. To this day people still speak with admiration as they speak of the quality and ability of his work. He is a man that is upheld as one of the best who has held such a position, achieving what others would have said was impossible.

From destroyer to builder? Yes, that was indeed the man I came to know with affection, Jim.

 

Jon Magee was born in 1951 at RAF Cosford , in Shropshire, England into a nomadic family. His father served in the British Royal Air Force as a Medical Secretary, and so did he for 10 years as an Electronic Technician working on Aircraft communications. Consequently, by the time he reached the age of 30 he had never lived anywhere more than 3 years maximum, and was in 14 schools by the time he had completed his Secondary education.

The result is that he has lived through many of the milestones of : in the 1950’s he was in Singapore during the Chinese riots, 1960/62 was in Germany at the height of the cold war, 1966/67 was in Aden (Yemen)as a teenager in the midst of the conflict and terrorism of the time and the British evacuation. As an adult, Jon Magee arrived in Malta as the Maltese Prime Minister decided he did not like the British, and then he went to Cyprus with his new wife, Joan, 1973 – 1975, in time for the Military coup and Turkish invasions of 1974.

He is married to Joan and they have 3 daughters, 2 sons, and 7 grandchildren, which he affectionately refers to as “The Magnificent 7”. He now serves as Baptist minister in Scotland, as well as serving as a Chaplain in various schools and industrial establishments. He is also a Community Councillor in Lochgelly. Recently Jon Magee has been appointed as Chairman of the management committee of the Churches of Lochgelly Cowdenbeath and Kelty (CLoCK) Street Pastors.

As an author, his writings reflect that nomadic early life, and brings out the realism of what it is like to live at the heart of the conflicts in the world in a way that is only possible having experience of the situations. In addition to writing for magazines and local newspapers, Jon is the author of “From Barren Rocks … to Living Stones” and “Paradise Island, Heavenly Journey”.

Jon Magee is open to invitations to speak on his area of expertise in both secular and Church situations, and maybe contacted at Lochgellybaptist@aol.com

 

Mother’s Day

cartoon

“Mothering? What’s that all about?”

by Jon Magee

 

Somewhere beneath the cards and bouquets of flowers lies an historical and Christian tradition that goes back centuries.

Mother’s Day, or Mothering Sunday as it is traditionally known in the UK and Ireland, is a day to show love, gratitude and appreciation to all wonderful mums everywhere, through acts of kindness and the giving of Mothers Day gifts and flowers. Mothering Sunday and Mother’s Day both have different origins; although they represent the same meaning, they originated very differently. We all celebrate the day but very few people actually know its origin. The original meaning of Mothering Sunday and Mother’s Day has been somewhat lost but it’s still a day to solely appreciate mum.

Mother’s Day celebrations date back as far as the ancient Greeks where they would celebrate Rhea, the Mother of the gods and goddesses, every spring with festivals of worship. The Romans also celebrated a mother goddess, Cybele, every March as far back as 250BC.

The date varies in different parts of the world. Many countries follow the Americans and celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May, whilst other countries enjoy the day on March 8th, which is International Women’s Day.

Mothering Sunday in the UK began with a religious purpose in the 16th century. Held exactly three weeks before Easter Sunday, which this year was the 30th March, it was originally a day to visit the ‘mother’ church. It was a day when many in domestic service, or apprentices, would be given time off to go home where they would make a point of visiting the mother church whilst with their families. This has, of course, evolved into what we have today; the wild flowers picked by the workers from the country lanes on the way home have  continued as an integral part of today’s Mothering Sunday. The gatherings reunited families and gave children who worked as domestic servants, or as apprentices away from home (from as early as ten years old), the opportunity to have the day off to join their family and see their mother.

In more recent years, I can recall my own memories growing up with the annual anticipation of what surprises can be determined for Mothering Sunday. One year when Mothering Sunday was early in March three young boys, my brothers and I, became conscious that we had nowhere enough pocket money to adequately provide appreciation of our mother. However, hope arose as wild flowers were spotted in a nearby wood. On the Sunday morning we got up early, before the sun rose, crept out of the home and made our way toward the wood. It seemed to be so much longer a journey in the dark than we had estimated, but we persevered. Eventually we arrived as the sun was rising. The flowers were still there, and we eagerly began the process of picking them and arranging them into three large bunches before starting the return journey. It was a cold frosty morning as we made our way home, and perhaps with hands also damp from picking the flowers we became more aware of how cold it was. We had a mixture of feelings as young boys, feeling miserable with the cold, yet inwardly delighted with our achievement. As each step home was made, so the ability of those cold hands to grip the flowers became more difficult, and behind us we began to leave a trail of flowers as one by one they fell to the ground. We arrived home to a frantic mother, wondering where her boys had disappeared to, and presented to her our two or three flowers declaring “Happy Mothering Sunday!!” As boys, we were conscious we had not given enough, but as a mother, mum often spoke of that day being special, realising the children were prepared to suffer in the cold to show to her some added appreciation, even if most of the flowers were lost on the way

The US celebrates Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May. The holiday was formed much later than Mothering Sunday, and was created in 1908 by a lady named Anna Jarvis from Grafton, West Virginia, in honour of her late mother. Anna Jarvis pushed hard for a holiday to celebrate all mothers after the death of her own, and after lots of hard work, determination and promotion President Woodrow Wilson finally made it an official holiday for the US in 1914.

However, as the holiday grew more and more established it became more and more commercialised much to the disgrace of Anna Jarvis, who named it “Hallmark Holiday”. Jarvis went on to oppose the day and regret what the day had turned into, and she died in 1948 very unhappy with what Mother’s Day had become. Nonetheless, in America Mother’s Day still remains a popular holiday making it one of the biggest days for sales of flowers and cards.

This week is also special for us for another reason that seems appropriate for the time of year. It was 1976 when it was all supposed to happen, but when in 1976 was a more pertinent question. Our second child was expected. Joan had worked out that baby would arrive about the end of March or beginning of April. The doctors, however, corrected her with the news that baby would arrive in February. She had been so sure she was right, but when you are young you know the Doctors always are the ones to trust, and if they said February then that’s what it must be. February came, and still no baby, just the added news from the trusty Doctors that we would be fortunate if baby was more than 5lbs, at the most. It was a leap year, could it be the 29th February? A birthday just once every four years? It was the 5th April that baby arrived as we excitedly declared “Its a girl!” Oh, and what about that small weight? Suzanne arrived well over 8lb. Seems the doctors, great as they are, did not know everything this time.

We became more aware that there are times that there is more to life than we can assume that day. I suppose that’s something, also, of the initial thoughts of Mothering Sunday. Mothers are to be honoured, but the tradition began with the honouring of God who initially gave life, as demonstrated by the people who made a point of attending the Mother Church as they returned to their homes.

 

Jon Magee is married to Joan, and is the father of 3 daughters and 2 sons, not forgetting 3 wonderful grandaughters and 4 grandsons. He is the published author of 2 books, Paradise Island, Heavenly Journey and From Barren Rocks to Living Stones,and  with a wealth of experience writing smaller items for magazines and local newspapers.

http://www.amazon.com/Jon-Magee/e/B003VN33WA/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1386409674&sr=1-2-ent

 

America, Motherhood & Apple Pie

by

R.L. Cherry

 

1024px-American_apple_pie

Mom’s Apple Pie: an American Tradition
Photo by Larry D. Moore CC BY-SA 3.0

Writing about Mother’s Day is a challenge.  Such phrases as “as American as apple pie” and “mom’s apple pie” would seem to tie love of mothers to American patriotism.  Indeed, mom and apple pie were, for many years, the exemplars of Americanism (although I doubt that many mom’s still bake their own).  There is an element of truth there, in that the Mother’s Day observed on the second Sunday in May by eighty-one of the one hundred sixty-six nations around the world that observe a mother’s day was brought about by the efforts of an American woman.

anna-jarvisAnna Jarvis, the mother of Mother’s Day

Inspired by honoring her own mother who died in 1905, Anna Jarvis began her efforts to have a day when everyone honored their mothers in 1907.  It was almost entirely due to Anna’s efforts that on May 8, 1914, Congress passed the enactment of Mother’s Day as a national holiday to be celebrated on the second Sunday of May.  And the rest is history.

    Before you protest that honoring mothers was not an American invention, that is not what I am saying.  However, having a day so focused on one’s own mother, not sharing it with some goddess like the Greeks and Romans did, is the product of Anna Jarvis.  Since 1956, much of the Arab world celebrate it on March 21st, thanks to the efforts of  Egypt journalist Mustafa Amin.  As to Mothering Sunday observed by my friends across The Pond on the fourth Sunday in Lent, that was originally a time to return to one’s mother (hometown) church, not in honor of one’s biological mother.  Still, worldwide May is the predominate month for appreciating mothers, with March a distant second.  Interestingly enough, every month except July and September have some country in the world recognizing mothers.  Anyone have an idea why those two months don’t like mothers?

Anniversary flowersRoses are nice, but . . .

    Anna Jarvis’ idea for celebrating Mother’s Day (note that it is Mother’s rather than Mothers’, since it was meant to be personal rather than general) was to go to church with your mother, cook her a meal and give her a white carnation.  In her words, “Its whiteness is to symbolize the truth, purity and broad-charity of mother love; its fragrance, her memory, and her prayers. The carnation does not drop its petals, but hugs them to its heart as it dies, and so, too, mothers hug their children to their hearts, their mother love never dying. When I selected this flower, I was remembering my mother’s bed of white pinks.”  But commercialism quickly hijacked this holiday, as it has so many others.

Within a few years of its inception, flowers, chocolates, cards and dining out were promoted by florists, confectioners, card companies and restaurants.  Spending time with, not money on, mothers was Anna’s hope.  She wrote, “A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy!  You take a box to Mother—and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment.”  Ironically, she died unwed and childless, disappointed with what had become of her holiday.

So, is this a downer for Mother’s Day?  Not at all.  It’s an exhortation to return to what Anna Jarvis intended Mother’s Day to be.  Take heed of her words, make this Mother’s Day more about honoring your mother than placating your conscience by simply sending a card and candy of flowers.  I have nothing against those, if they are combined with giving that most precious commodity: time.  If at all possible, visit your mother on Mother’s Day.  If distance or work makes that impossible, call her.  I don’t mean a one-minute cursory call, but talk to her as long as she wants to stay on the phone.  Skype her if she is computer savvy.  There is no greater gift you can give than your time.  She gave that to you for many years, so give a little back to her now.  Trust me, next year just might be too late.

Ron1


R.L. Cherry
www.rlcherry.com

A time of war and a time of faith: a true story by Jon Magee

Jon MageeIt was early morning as the airman set off on the sixteen mile journey to his place of duty. It was a routine that both he and his young wife, Joan, had come to know. As he left there was also the certainty that his return would be at the same time each day, regular as clockwork, unless a message reached Joan to say that maybe an exercise had been called, which required him to stay on base till it was completed. This was their life. But today was going to be different. Today, the unexpected was going to happen as events were to transpire that would bring about new and radical change to their lives. The tranquility of their idealistic life was about to explode because of decisions made on the international scene.

Cyprus, where they lived, was considered to be an ideal place for a young couple to begin married life. Cyprus has often been called the island of love. It was on the island of Cyprus that Greek mythology refers to Aphrodite, the goddess of love, being born of the foam of Paphos. Aphrodite, who the Romans would have referred to as Venus, was known as the Greek Goddess of love, desire, beauty, fertility, the sea, and vegetation.  This was their island home, a natural romantic extension of the honeymoon of married life.

Unaware of all that lay ahead, Joan began her routine of chores. For a young girl raised in the Scottish highlands, living on a Mediterranean island really was romantic. But there were still things that must be done. It was always best to ensure the housework was carried out early in the day, before the heat became too intense. And even though they were still expecting their first child, they were living in a reasonably sized, three bedroom bungalow with a large living room and a budgie that sat in a corner in a cage. Yes, there was much to do.

The building had a flat roof, as was the case with so many houses in the east and certainly in this locality, where the washing could be hung out to dry or where one could sunbathe when desired. Down stairs, towards the front of the bungalow, was a large, shaded balcony on which to relax in the welcoming cool breeze. In the evening during the summer months it was not unusual to see the local people using such areas as if they were their living rooms. They would sit together with their families, perhaps drinking coffee or watching television or just socializing. The family was traditionally the most important institution in the island society. Especially in village life, where people thought of themselves primarily as members of families and rarely spoke of themselves as individuals in the existential sense. They traditionally identified themselves first as members of families, then according to their places of origin, and lastly as citizens of a nation.  Jon and Joan had also come to know that the pace of island life was leisurely, that the people were kind and helpful and always ready with a smile. The people were hard workers too, resilient people who had withstood and accommodated a succession of invaders throughout their long history.

As the day progressed, Joan began to prepare for the return of her love. She looked through the window, but he was not there. She stepped through the door, but he was not there. She looked into the horizon, but there was no vision to brighten her life. There was a certain eeriness about that day which she could not completely comprehend. This was July, nineteen seventy-four on the island of Cyprus. There was no telephone in the house to communicate with the wider world. There was no one living nearby who would understand her anxious concerns being expressed in English. She was alone, upset, and anxious, not understanding why it should be that her love was acting so much out of routine. Was he alright? Had there been an accident? She did not know. There were so many questions, yet so few answers to match them.

Nightfall came down very quickly in Cyprus. The eastern countries did not have the long periods of dusk known in Scotland, and as Joan continued to wait in her Cypriot home there was still no sign of her love. All she knew was the terrifying sound of gunfire that was surrounding her home. Could it have been fireworks, she thought? Was there some local tradition or celebrations she was not aware of? No, the sounds she was hearing were clearly different from any fireworks she had ever heard before this day, there had to be another reason for what was happening. And as she sought to secure the premises, Joan was beginning to understand the full meaning of fear.

The windows and shutters were closed as she went from one room to another. The external doors were locked. Every means of access to the home were checked and then double checked, nothing could be left to chance. The house lights were all turned off, just in case any undesirable person should be attracted to the home lit up. Even her radio was switched off–though along with that action came the fact that any news from the outside world was switched off too. Her desire for protection ironically also became the means of her isolation. Add to that her increased discomfort, because, at the hottest time of the year in the Mediterranean, she had switched off the fans designed to keep her cool, just in case their noise compromised her security.

As she sat down in the safest part of the house, still not knowing the cause of the day’s events, she thought of the one whom she had married. Was she widowed already? Would she also be following him into death? Just one day can change ones perspective so dramatically. Life had appeared to be hopeful as the day began, now it seemed to be so hopeless. Her heart began the day with leaps of joy as she considered the wondrous moments that they shared; now, however, her heart was thudding with such an awesome dread. Life was now appearing to be so out of control. What could she do? The reality was clear: there was nothing she could do except to pray that someone, or something, could intervene and bring back her heart’s desire. It was at that moment, though the explosions and the gunfire continued on, that an inner battle of her own began, as she sought to discover a spiritual trust in the midst of the unknown.

Joan began to read a book related to the underground Christian church in Eastern Europe called “I Found God in Soviet Russia” by John Noble. As she did, the words “I prayed” sprang out of the pages from the second chapter.  She knew that was her only answer as she poured her heart out to the only one who was there to listen… God. Her circumstances were not changed. The fearful happenings outside, whatever they may be, were not changed. The terrifying noise of gunfire had not ceased, and the absence of human company continued to be. The concerns at the absence of Jon were still there, but she knew she did not need to face those fears alone. She was already a woman of faith, but it is in the midst of trials and adversity that a full understanding of what that means in practical terms can be grasped.

The words I have written are just one part of a true story. My wife, Joan, and I were the young couple starting married life in Cyprus 40 years ago as a military coup and Turkish invasion transformed the lives of so many irrespective of their national background. Not everyone survived. For some, the questions in their minds and hearts may never have had an answer.  Yet for so many came a realization that when the world appears to be out of control, human answers are often insufficient.

To learn more about Jon Magee visit: http://about.me/Jonmagee.author.minister
and Amazon.com