blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Monday, October 27, 2014


Chris and I went to a performance by young people of Mozart's Requiem yesterday, to commemorate the centennial of the First World War's beginning. It was well conducted and well sung, with much energy and in a spirit of dedication. All the performers wore black with red poppies. I have my own, very personal memories of Mozart's Requiem––our family joined in a sing-along performance of it at the Royal Albert Hall in London once; my son and daughter used to sing the Lacrymosa movement in their high school concerts; and in the summer of 1984 the work was sung in its entirety at the Johanneskirche in Crailsheim, Germany, as a musical memorial to my father who had brought English and German youth choirs together.

Since Wednesday, a sad day for Ottawa, when a sentry was shot dead while on duty at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier beneath the National War Memorial and was then carried away to his own grave in a ceremonial convoy, deaths and memorials have been on everybody's mind. So much information and opinion has been published about this already, and about the other young man who was shot dead––the killer––and about the possible causes and implications of the attack, that I don't intend to add to it just now. Incidents like this stir up our thoughts and feelings, and we each react in our own, characteristic ways. I'm in the silent observer category. I saw crowds of people laying flowers near the Unknown Soldier's tomb today or just coming to stand there. Two sentries stood guard. It didn't feel like a dangerous place to be.

In contrast, this weekend, Chris and I were involved in the creation of a very quiet, low-key memorial to a man called Grant Campbell who used to be a familiar face at the Flying Club until in 2013 he suddenly didn't turn up any more. It turns out that Grant had died of cancer. Few of us had realised this, and neither had Chris nor I known that Grant had been a cartoonist-animator of some repute. On Saturday, Grant's sister and her husband came to the airport to supervise the planting of a sapling in his memory, a "fall fiesta" maple, in about the same spot where he used to sit talking to his good friend Tony after mowing the grass around the parked aeroplanes and the picnic tables. One day, when it's grown, the tree will provide some welcome shade there. At the moment it has no leaves, but a few of us stood around it all the same and some people helped to shovel in the symbolic heap of soil that the professional tree gardeners had left beside it. When the rain came down more heavily we huddled under the gazebo and the Chief Flying Instructor said a few words in memory of Grant and read us the pilots' poem High Flight by John Gillespie Magee, Jr. that's usually read out on such occasions.

Group of friends at the airport tree-planting ceremony
(photo by Brenda Reid)

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