The Terminology of Respect
by JENNIFER PAULL
The Republic of China was established on 1 January and the Gregorian calendar was adopted one month later. Yet to this day, many Chinese people refer to 'their' birthdays and 'western' ones -- a bit like the French and their 'anciens' francs, no matter what. New Mexico and Arizona became the 47th and 48th US states, respectively, whilst in Connecticut, the first diesel-powered submarine was commissioned, followed a few weeks later by the first parachute jump from a flying aeroplane. These miracles of modern engineering took three hours to fly from London to Paris and did so for the first time, non-stop.
Beethoven's Fidelio opened the Deutsche Opernhaus (as it then was) and the first blues song, The Memphis Blues, was published. Kathleen Ferrier, Perry Como and Alfred Deller were born less than a month apart: Georg Solti, Eugene Ionesco and Carlo Ponti within three weeks: Gene Kelly and John Cage within a fortnight and all set out to mark music, black vinyl, literature and the silver screen.
However, the event in everybody's mind was the sinking of the Titanic in the early hours of 15 April 1912.
A memorial to the eight 'bandsmen' was unveiled on 4 November 1912 in Liverpool and is a miraculous survivor of the original Philharmonic Hall, which was destroyed by fire in 1933.
The new Art Deco home of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra opened six years later. Miracles continuing, both plaque and hall survived the heavy bombing of World War II (with erroneous date as follows):
THIS TABLET IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF
W HARTLEY OF DEWSBURY -BANDMASTER- W T BRAILEY OF LONDON
R BRICOUX OF LILLE, FRANCE
J F CLARKE OF LIVERPOOL
J L HUME OF DUMFRIES
G KRINS OF LIEGE, BELGIUM
P C TAYLOR OF LONDON
J W WOODWARD OF HEADINGTON
MEMBERS OF THE BAND ON BOARD THE 'TITANIC'; THEY BRAVELY
CONTINUED PLAYING TO SOOTHE THE ANGUISH OF THEIR FELLOW PASSENGERS
UNTIL THE SHIP SANK IN THE DEEP APRIL 14TH 1912. COURAGE AND COMPASSION JOINED
MAKE THE HERO AND THE MAN COMPLETE
On 19 April 1913 in Southampton's Library five months later, a further memorial was erected, but this time it was lost to the bombing of the same war. For over forty years it remained absent. On 7 March 1990 an exact replica was installed upon the same site:
IN MEMORY OF THE HEROIC MUSICIANS OF THE S S 'TITANIC'.
LOST ON HER MAIDEN VOYAGE FROM SOUTHAMPTON
TO NEW YORK.
APRIL 15TH 1912.
C KRINS R BRICOUX
W T BRAILEY J WOODWARD
J F CLARKE J L HULME
P C TAYLOR
THEY DIED AT THEIR POSTS LIKE MEN
ERECTED BY THE MEMBERS
AND FRIENDS OF THE AMALGAMATED MUSICIANS UNION SOUTHAMPTON BRANCH
UNVEILED BY HIS WORSHIP THE MAYOR H BOWYER R N R
APRIL 19TH 1913
Were this tragedy to occur today, women's names would figure amongst the brave and the wording would be very different. In a world where women make solo flights, cross oceans with and without oars, venture into spaceships and risk their lives as reporters in countries at war, tragedy remains. Attitudes, although moving at the pace of a snail, do show signs of some, albeit vastly insufficient and unequal, geographic tremors. Language is a photographic time capsule and reveals far more than the words it contains.
Words, when written, crystallize history; their very structure gives permanence to the unchangeable past. -- Francis Bacon, essayist, philosopher and statesman (1561-1626)
Copyright © 5 July 2005
Jennifer I Paull, Vouvry, Switzerland