War of the Worlds

No one would have believed, in the last years of the nineteenth century, that human affairs were being watched from the timeless worlds of space. No one could have dreamed that we were being scrutinized as someone with a microscope studies creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. Few men even considered the possibility of life on other planets. And yet, across the gulf of space, minds immeasurably superior to ours regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely, they drew their plans against us.”

If there is one thing that my blog tends to focus on then it is ‘relationships between communities’. Usually that means I look at life in Britain and Bangladesh as the countries and communities I know most about and love the most and try to look at a variety of things related to these.

But one thing I have really seen in Bangladesh is the love of meeting together, having fun and sharing life together. Life is often so hard that the opportunity to celebrate it in the form of weddings, religious festivals and so on, is always welcomed by the community.

With that preface in mind then, I hope my international friends will forgive me if I indulge in a little community spirit to do with the ‘other place I call home’ other than LAMB which is a little North of England town called Whitehaven. This working class town which has had unwelcomed notoriety  in recent years is quite typical of the ‘no nonsense’ attitude of Cumbrians. We get on with things, generally, without a fuss and we, like my Bangladeshi friends, also enjoy getting together as a community and celebrating life. It is a shame and unfair that we are better known for rampaging taxi drivers than for this love of life.

It is for that reason that I am glad that I and my family are going to watch the musical version of  War of the Worlds this week at Whitehaven Civic Hall. I hope it is well attended because it will deserve to be. The music is fantastic and the story line still as relevant today as it was when H.G Wells wrote those (adapted) words from above in 1898. At a time when the UK is feeling the pinch economically, when the news is full of woe and Whitehaven continues to get on with getting on, Wells’ story is truly fitting. At the time, audiences dismissed the idea of mass invasion as fantasy. Britain was the indomitable Empire that could not be beaten. The war was soon to come with half a century of turmoil leading to a world devastated by invasion and the Empire all but gone. Britain became a very different place.

Yet the story reminds us, after belittling man’s efforts to beat the enemy and all his attempts to rebuild, that the World, Mother Nature, God, Science (however you want to view it) works to bring balance and can defeat the greatest of enemies. Out of Wells’ story comes a greater respect for our environment just as it did when we came out of two world wars.

The narrator and the leading characters such as the Artillery man are all left unnamed both in the book and in the musical and so represent the Everyman – all of us – and enable us to put ourselves in their shoes. This is something that, sadly, the world does not do enough as recent riots in London demonstrated all too horribly. “There must be hope for us all” sings the Parson’s wife in the musical “somewhere in the spirit of man”. I would like to believe that is still true.

I grew up with Jeff Wayne’s epic masterpiece and so I am undoubtedly biased about wanting to go and see it in Whitehaven this week, but I think I would have been disappointed if, after 6 months being back in the UK, I had not gone to see something at the local Civic hall. For me, that place is, if not the heart, then one of the major organs of the town (along with the harbour and the roads themselves when it comes to carnival day). I am going to enjoy rubbing shoulders with the townsfolk I consider my own (adopted son though I am) and celebrating life with them as we listen to damned good music set to a brilliant story and take a break from our own troubles and woes for a few hours.

That’s community for you.

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About D K Powell

British freelance journalist, author, writer, editor, musician, educational consultant. I lived with Wifey, Thing I (daughter) & Thing II (son) in Bangladesh for 5-6 years working for an NGO called LAMB. Wifey led the Hospital Rehab department and I used to teach O levels at the school before going full-time as a freelance writer in 2013. Now we're back in the UK learning how to be British again. When not writing or editing, I'm busy trying to complete a Masters degree in Intercultural relations in Asian Contexts and reading way too many books at once. I also drink tea - lots of it.
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10 Responses to War of the Worlds

  1. Pingback: Minipost 17 – The ways people get here baffle me… | kenthinksaloud

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  3. SR says:

    A good job you do of it too. God Bless, SR

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  4. SR says:

    Hey Ken,

    Good post. I think I like reading your blog because you always take me somewhere else. After a busy day sometimes that is a nice way to end it. Thanks for all these lovely post. God Bless, SR

    Like

    • Thank you SR – you always leave such kind comments! I try to write on as many different areas as come to my mind each week – all linked to the same central theme but some fun, some serious. I hope there is something for everybody here. Glad you are enjoying the posts at the end of the day 🙂

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  5. Nicky B says:

    Wish i could be there… One of my lasting memories of childhood is that of listening to war of the worlds and joking that one day i will name my first born thunderchild just so i could call them indoors with an overly dramatic rendition of ” come in thunderchild”

    Whitehaven for me holds the greatest sense of community ive felt anywhere… Ecen now 3 years into life in st helens i think of how friendly and joined the

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    • Nicky B says:

      *people are. Especially after the evens of the last few years. ( sorry, typing on ipod made it post unexpectedly mid sentence!)

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      • Thanks Nicky – despite your typing problems your sentiments are well felt. I agree with you (though I would stop short of naming a child “Thunderchild” even though the dramatic rendition would be rather cool!) and know you mean every word of it 🙂

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  6. Vanessa Hall says:

    Well said Ken!! I second every word. Like you I am an ‘adopted’ sister of this beautiful town.
    I have my tickets for the opening night on Thursday. Chris and I went to see the stage show when Jeff Wayne and crew were touring and it was amazing so I wouldn’t miss another chance to see a performance of this fabulous show. I too grew up with this music and it is something which you never tire of and which never dates.
    I’m looking forward to cheering on a few friends who are involved in the performance and hope to see many other friends there to join me.
    There is definately a lot worth living for in this lovely town 🙂

    Hope you enjoy it too! Vanessa xx

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    • Thanks Vanessa – I think we’re going on Thursday too and also have friends involved in it. We most certainly have so much to live for in this town and I’m proud to be part of it. I know you feel this more than most 🙂

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