Friday, 11 December 2015

Writing - A momentous coming ignored.

Sometimes the most momentous occurrences go almost unnoticed.

Image result for barwell meteorite
Barwell 1965

December 24th 1965 late in the afternoon a meteor entered the Earth's atmosphere. It was the biggest to hit the UK and was heading for the city of Leicester but broke up over the village of Barwell.

The last thing Percy England expected on Christmas Eve was for a 4.5bn-year-old meteorite to put a hole through his brand new Vauxhall Viva. There had been no warnings of impending doom. He immediately got in touch with his insurance company but they refused to pay out as it was considered 'an act of God'. His next letter to the insurance people began 'Dear Mr God ...'

The pieces found scattered across houses and streets on Christmas Day sparked a frenzied meteorite hunt. The fragments are still being studied by the Natural History Museum. They are also highly sought after by collectors. In 2009, a 2lb (0.9kg) piece made £8,000 at auction.

What is that about? How can there be a price for a 4.5bn year old piece of rock? Who arrived at £8000? Why not £8 million, after all it is a one off, truly unique. To me it is rather like putting a price on each drop of water that goes over Niagara Falls. Pointless!

Image result for carol singers

In Barwell a booming sound was heard by a lady walking her dog across a cow field. A group of carol singers set out across the village soon after and felt something crunching under their feet as they went.
At one point, 26-year-old Rosemary Leader picked up a piece of the rubble to examine it under the light of the street lamp before throwing it away. "I was out carol singing, I didn't want to carry a lump of rock around," she says.
A few people didn't notice anything amiss until Christmas Day. The first thing Percy spotted was the hole through the bonnet of his new car. Other people had woken up to find similar holes in the tarmac, windows and roof slates.

The value to those above certainly wasn't great enough to collect pieces of the rock, but when meteorite hunters heard the news they inundated the village searching for fragments. This coming Saturday people who have fragments from fifty years ago are being invited to return to Barwell.

The few examples I have shared with you are a fraction of the stories that developed from that one momentous coming. From the person who through the 'rock' away to someone making thousands of pounds, the stories are almost as numerous as the pieces the meteorite broke into.

Image result for sunderland victoria hall disaster

I am writing and researching the disaster at Victoria Hall in Sunderland in 1883 when 183 children died. Already within the research a number of stories have arisen, some of which are incredibly sad. A whole Sunday School class was killed, a child carried her dead sibling home and the crash bars that we see on fire doors were invented as a result of the disaster.

Inspiration comes from the most unlikely of places and events so keep your eyes and ears open and write what you see.

God Bless