“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.