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EditorialsUp Front - 12/15

Up Front – 12/15

As a youngster—who of course knew everything—I never really understood what my father meant when he gently explained that age was an achievement, not youth. Here we are many years later and I have long since learnt what he meant. In this issue we highlight two people, Joan Meeson and Jean Spicer, who have each recently celebrated their 100th birthday. Reading the stories of their lives is heart-warming and it started me on a trawl through the events of the last 100 years. Apart from the fact that we have had two world wars and dozens of interventions in overseas conflicts, we’ve also seen inventions from radios to razors, pacemakers to Penicillin and jet engines to artificial hearts—and all before the internet. The list of our achievements is impressive, although sadly it pales next to the list of massacres and atrocities over the same period. So I was cheered to read again one story that is still heart-warming. It’s a well-worn tale around Lyme Regis but still worth relating again. In the same year that our two 100 year-olds were born, a Royal Navy ship, HMS Formidable was torpedoed off the Dorset coast and soon sank taking the captain and hundreds of men to their deaths. But according to writer Nigel Clarke in the Shipwreck Guide to Dorset and South Devon, a dog owned by the landlord of the Pilot Boat in Lyme Regis helped save the life of one crew member. The pub was apparently used as a temporary mortuary and when the bodies had been laid out on the stone floor, a crossbred collie, named Lassie, began to lick the face of one of the victims. Legend has it that Lassie remained next to the man, keeping him warm until he regained consciousness. Apparently the man eventually made a full recovery and visited Lassie afterwards to show his appreciation. Many years later a book was published called Lassie Come Home and Lassie went on to become a Hollywood icon. Whether the book was inspired by the crossbred collie that helped save the life of Able Seaman Cowan is debatable, but that hardly matters. It’s a heart-warming story—as is the achievement of living for 100 years or more. The best of the season to everyone, regardless of age or any other non-politically correct description.

 

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