Richard Lutz scours the wreckage of the past week and blows out the birthday candles with a champ
And a happy Birth Day to Prince William’s new kid on the block. A son, as yet unnamed.
To reduce this momentous event to the banal, he shares April 23rd as a birthday with actor Dev Patel (28), comedian John Oliver (41) and Mr Six Million Dollar Man Lee Majors (79).
Historical figures who blew out the candles on this day include Will Shakespeare, Shirley Temple and Roy Orbison.
There you go. File under Unexplained Chances of Life, eh?
My own birthday is 21st August, which I share with speedster Usain Bolt (above), country singer Kenny Rogers and Google founder Sergey Brin. Oh yes, the late Princess Margaret too.
These footnotes of the calendar play a crucial part on my household’s routine: We check the birthday lists every morning just as we take that hit of caffeine. And we take special care to see who shares…exactly….not only the same birthday but the same specific date of birth in the same 24 hour period. We call ‘em Doublers.
It’s totally circumstantial. It’s totally irrelevant. It only proves the randomness of it all. And, every morning, it’s crucial we check them out.
Let’s peer into the first three months of 2018 and find people born on the exact same date. Those who are members of the Doublers Club include: singer Emmylou Harris and writer Camille Paglia (both 71 on April 2n d); comedian Ellen de Generes and singer Anita Baker (both 60 on 26th January); Vanessa Redgrave and chess maestro Boris Spassky (both 81 on January 30th); opera singer Kiri Tekanawa and ex-Supreme Mary Wilson (74 on March 6th); and Michael Caine and Quincy Jones (both 85 on March 14th).
Of course some dates include Triplers. English comedian Eddie Izzard, singer Garth Brookes and rock star Bon Jovi (all 56 on Feburary 7th); or, Sly Stone, director David Kronenberg and writer Lynda La Plante (all 75 on 5th March). There’s even a quintet that includes, among others, ex-England football manager Sven Goren Erickson, documentary maker Errol Morris and comedy writer Christopher Guest (all 70 on February 5th).
What does this prove? Actually nothing, so let’s move on.
In Britain, spring suddenly bounced into hot summer this week, with sun seekers languishing in the unfamiliar heat as temperatures exploded into the early eighties (or late twenties if you’re a Celsius fan). White skin turned pink, dress sense reduced to minimal and I headed to Much Wenlock in out of the way Shropshire.
The village is proud host to the ancient remains of its ancient monastic priory. Bones and stones of history rear from the green earth as huge ruined arches reach for the sky. Stumps of pillars stud the ground that once supported soaring ceilings, and (below) rounded early medieval sculptures contain more questions than answers.
Among the more pressing: who’re the guys in the boat; who’s offering the helping hand? And most importantly, just who’s the barber who produced that sharp puddinghead look?
Much Wenlock priory is filled with these hints of history. As is Britain, for that matter. Yes, Italy has its Renaissance. India has its ornate Hindu art and Spain its moody cathedrals. But swampy old Albion has this eerie hint of yesterday, usually chipped or crumbling, peeking at a past of once-glorious monasteries, or tiny churches with traces of frescoes whitewashed by fanatics, adorned with stonework rounded and wounded by the ages.