Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Where were you and what were you doing at eleven minutes and eleven seconds past eleven on the eleventh of November, twenty-eleven?
At that time in the morning Susan and I were with our dear friend Ariane, enjoying a delicious breakfast at the Cafe Zen in the Vancouver neighbourhood of Kitsilano. If anyone's remotely interested - which is unlikely, but I'm going to mention it anyway - I had a B.C. Benedict and coffee. Excellent, it was.
When exiting this fine eatery with bellies full, I glanced at my timepiece to see it was 11:14. When announcing the time to Susan and Ariane, something immediately dawned on us, and we all looked at each other aghast. We were instantly ashamed that, despite our best intentions to do so - we'd even discussed it the previous evening - we had forgotten at 11:00 to observe two minutes of silence in honour of the fallen of the two World Wars, and all other wars for that matter. Then again, seemingly not a single other person in the cafe had remembered either. We were to a man and woman all too busy stuffing our faces to even just for a moment stop to appreciate why we are able to do so freely. But it's not like there was any deliberate collective snub; I am certain that had an announcement been made at 11:00 by either the cafe staff or a concerned diner that it was the traditional moment for remembrance, that everyone present would have happily and respectfully complied. It's not like anyone would refuse, surely? It just didn't happen, because nobody thought about it. But the fact that it didn't, and that there was no announcement forthcoming, or probably any thoughts of one, is in itself food for thought, don't you think? What a self-obsessed and insular society we have sadly become.
Speaking of insular...
At 11:11:11 in the PM, however, Susan and I were back home in Nanaimo, watching Vincent Moon's typically intimate portrait of the world of the brilliant Danish band, Efterklang, on the DVD I had ordered months prior. (If you don't know the names Efterklang or Vincent Moon, I implore you to investigate.) The image above was taken at the exact moment in question, but you'll just have to believe me that it is indeed the movie, An Island, on the television! Fascinating, inspiring, and full of some of the most beautiful music of this young 21st century, An Island is a euphoric experience that served to powerfully amplify the single-digit uniqueness of the moment in time that occurred as we watched it.
But to backtrack, it's weird, you know, that wherever I may be and whatever I might be doing, such an important thing as the Armistice Day two minutes silence should ever slip my mind, because November 11 is a massive date in my life. On 11/11 in 1966 I nearly lost my life when being mown down by a speeding car outside my house in Solihull Lodge, England. I broke my pelvis, left arm and three ribs. My liver split into three parts, and I have a 36-stitch abdominal scar as proof of how it was pieced back together. I suffered head injuries, had a complete blood transfusion, and was in hospital for six weeks. All in all, November 11 is not a date I should ever have forgotten the significance of, but despite the best intentions it can, and evidently does, happen to us all.