Tag Archives: Derbyshire

What Does It Mean To Be Foreign?

via Daily Prompt: Foreign

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Graphic comes from livingwaterlutheran.com via Bing

I wonder if the word foreign might eventually be redundant?

Where I grew up in England, my mother from Derbyshire, father from Nottinghamshire, we had dialects, and there were inflections and local flavours within regions and districts, you were foreign if yo came from 10 miles away. I was once asked by an Australian work colleague to translate what a tradie from Yorkshire was saying, he assumed, even though I had migrated as a mere child, I’d know! What astounded me was that it didn’t seem that difficult to understand what said tradie was saying. In Australia, there are subtle accents between east and west, and a variety of indigenous languages. Across this vast land there is also a sense of the local, which has become important across activities such as sport, politics, but especially federal funding.

I was once appointed to serve three towns. I was based in a main centre and would visit the other two on a rota. Once, while in the smaller of the three towns, on market day, I got chatting to some people who were passing through. One of the locals who knew me joined the conversation. At some point one of the visitors asked if I was a local. The local said I was not, and I said I did. There ensued one of those useless exchanges – no you’re not, yes I am. This went on for a split second or two with much positioning and my answer’s better than yours. The true local pointing out that I lived 45kms away in the big town. At some point the visitor asked what I meant. People really shouldn’t ask me questions, it gets tricky, I love to engage, I’m passionate about what I believe so they should be warned.

Little did the visitor know I had been waiting a lifetime for this question.

My answer: I’m local to Australia. Blank stares all round. Then the penny dropped. Derision followed. I never did convince them. Apparently you have to come from somewhere, belong somewhere, be part of something, or the nation, the world, cannot function.

I belong to a small circle of friends who firmly hold to the notion that we belong to each other, and not to any flag, state, or bounded ideal. We don’t much care for petty idealism, sabre rattling politics, flag waving jingoism, or some hyped pride based on place or space. Besides, those beliefs and behaviours have not got us very far.

As the graphic suggests, I’m more for reaching out and taking the hand of another, irrespective of any standard defining characteristics, be they colour, belief, birth country, sexual orientation, class, income, education, and etc. The word foreign is a divisive word, intentionally so, as it defines if you’re from round here or not. I accept that people take pride in where they’re from, and that they need to have conenction and identity, but I wonder if we can dial that back a bit, and focus on being present to hospitality, need, helping, journeying with the other? As is often said, we need to look for what we have in common rather than what divides us.

One of my main influences in life has been music. I have particularly admired Peter Gabriel, formerly of Genesis, who helped pioneer World Music in the late 70s as a fusion of styles and genres working together. Paul Simon has encouraged working with artists from other cultures, notably his album Graceland was founded on this ideal. Robert Plant has similarly worked with and encouraged artists from all over the world.

I was never a diehard Glen Campbell fan, but this song was influential in my thinking. It makes a great point: if we see our brother/sister standing by the road, carrying a heavy load, then it’s up to us to help share the load, to enable the other to get by, to get along. The refrain, “You’ve got to try a little kindness …” is perfect for our world. If we show a little kindness, then the definition foreign becomes redundant, and all people are from round here.

These days I’m local to the globe …

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

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Filed under community, life, Philosophy/Theology, politics

The Uncompromising Alison Hargreaves

via Daily Prompt: Uncompromising

In honour of International Women’s Day:

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I’ve been captivated by many women, and not in the least my wife Lyn. But one woman who, having read her story, and who has remained in my mind, is the uncompromising Alison Hargreaves.

Hargreaves was born on February 17, 1962 in Derbyshire, England. The town she grew up in, Belper, was in the Peak District, a much loved climbing area. She was deeply influenced by one of her teachers, and outdoor pursuit teacher Hilary Collins. When she left high school she chose to open a mountaineering equipment store with Jim Ballard, whom she eventually married. Ballard was already a climber, and he saw Hargreave’s potential and became her mentor and coach, encouraging her and supporting her to extend herself.

Even in the early 80s it was unusual to see women rock climbers, and Hargreaves was a distinct figure on the rock climbing circuit. She had a strong inner drive and enthusiasm, and she pushed herself to achieve. And in the early 80s she had already begun to make a name for herself, conquering the Alps in Europe. In 1986 she went with a small team led by Jeff Lowe of the US to climb Kantega in the Himalayas, and she successfully summitted. Rather than return to the Himalayas while pregnant, Hargreaves instead chose to climb the north face of the Eiger and became the first British female climber to summit. After the birth of her first child, son Tom, she also gave birth a second child two years later – Kate, and Hargreaves now gave primary time to raising her children, yet venturing out to the Peak District and then across to Europe’s Alps. She set herself a goal – to climb all of the six most famous Alpine north faces, and solo in a single season. She did it, and in record times.

In 1994 she set another goal, to climb Everest, solo and without oxygen, ascending to the South Col, she turned back as she risked frostbite. She returned six months later to ascend the north face (following Mallory’s route) solo and without oxygen. Hargreaves successfully summitted and also made a safe and rapid descent.

In early 1995 she was 33, and in her climbing prime. Hargreaves had set a goal to climb the three big peaks in the Karakorum Range in Pakistan, Everest, K-2, and Kangchejunga, in sequence and unassisted in the same year. In May 95 she summitted Everest, and in August 95 she successfully summitted K-2. However, Hargreaves got caught in a severe storm descending K-2 and died. Such a tragedy.

Her story is amazing, and her success and death belie the personal struggles she faced, and the povery she and her husband Jim endured to pursue their humble business and her climbing career. The lost both their business and their home, and faced severe tensions in their relationship (which was subject to much speculation). Hargreaves faced unstinting criticism from the public in pursuing her climbing career – what sort of wife and mother would do that? What woman would put herself first? She was criticised as being driven, self-focussed, a poor mother, a bad wife, for being uncautious, egotisitical … The press and public were , at times, unrelenting in their negativity. Hargreaves ignored them.

For me she is a haunting figure of triumph even in death because she was true to her passion and her vocation. this was indeed a calling, a true vocation, and she gave herself to it, even to the risk of death. Even as I write this, her story still moves me. And if I take anything away from her example of life, it is to honour your vocation, your calling, fearlessly and unstintingly, even in the face of criticism and ridicule. My guess is that had she not died climbing, she would have died inwardly by being deprived of it, a pining away. Hargreaves achieved many of her personal goals, and achieved a deep respect in the climbing community for her ability and the successes she had. Even in tragedy, she is an inspiration, never giving up. She was uncompromising, tenacious, and yes, driven. But she achieved so much, and not in the least for herself, but also for climbers, and especialy for women. Her death does not diminish her, it is in fact a testimony to living authentically. Something we must all reflect on for our own journey.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

7 Comments

Filed under history, life, Mountaineering, self-development