I am now nearing the end of this ludicrous task of 24 days of Blogs in the form of an out-of-time Advent Calendar. With this calendar, when you open the box you don’t get a chocolate, but in its place a random thought or two, this time on the subject of luck, good and bad.
Typical of my random approach, the opening of boxes has moved from the outwards in so that, including today’s there remain just four Blog Day Numbers: 16, 15, 14 and, if you’re superstitious, the unmentionable one.
Now I don’t regard myself as superstitious, but you may conclude that I have proved cowardly in the numbering of this Blog. Though genuinely not triskaidekaphobic, I ask myself what is the point of tempting fate? Not only is the dreaded number due to be applied to today’s blog but I am writing it on the eleventh day of the second month (11 + 2 = ??).
So, no chances will be taken
Like a hotel which avoids having room Thirteen
We won’t say which Advent Blog it is today
And instead of using that cursed number
We’re going to call it Blog Day 12A
On a more serious note, the issue of luck is on my mind.
Currently I am working on a longer poem than the ones I usually write. The initial inspiration arose from a tourist attraction visited during the last few days of holiday I enjoyed, in October 2019 on the island of Ireland.
At the quayside in New Ross, County Wexford there are contrasting but related exhibits side by side, the one relating to the ships which carried those forced to escape famine in mid-19th century Ireland, the other celebrating the visit of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, President of the United States of America, in 1963. JFK’s great grandfather had made the journey from Wexford to Boston and Kennedy was marking that with his visit.
But this starting point has set me on a journey of research which will take me to many destinations before it is over and it will finally come ashore in modern Britain and America. Although it’ll be a human story, it cannot avoid the impact of British and ultimately American Imperialism and Capitalism, and how certain aspects of good fortune are not down to luck at all but depend on wealth, power, property, access to education and belonging to the acceptable family, race or colour.
On a more positive note, the poem will attempt to balance the cruelty of the negative impacts with a contrasting narrative demonstrating the kind of good fortune we all like to witness. Love, happiness, overcoming obstacles and the other kinds of ‘luck’ which come from hard work, community and kindness.
It is truly amazing how, from viewing a tourist attraction, one’s mind can travel thousands of miles and begin to consider the respective situations of the many very different human characters involved.
Perhaps more to the point, I have set myself a difficult task which will require getting the tone and pace of the poem just right. It must not veer towards the overly didactic, must hold attention, yet have historical accuracy as well as drama. It will have to convey emotion at points but not become sentimental.
Though getting it right may be difficult and I may fail, I shall learn much in the process. They say you learn more from analyses of your failures than your successes.
I consider myself lucky to have had the inspiration and to be alive to do some work on it.
That kind of luck is sometimes where you choose to find it.