Where was I, and what was I doing when ....
- the twin towers collapsed?
- the Aberfan disaster occurred?
- I heard about the massacres in Cumbria or Norway?
- the space shuttle, Challenger, blew up?
- Labour came to power in 1997?
- Live Aid took place in 1985?
Well I have answers to all of these, and a couple of them I associate with songs of John Denver.
I was 10 years old when the Aberfan disaster occurred on Friday 21st October 1966. Where I lived, which as the crow flies, is about 6 miles from Aberfan it was the half term holiday. Aberfan, in a different county, wasn't. On that fateful day pupils were at school, hence the huge loss of life. I remember my father going across to assist in the rescue mission. To this day, the village is still trying to recover from a generation, my generation, lost.....
Pete Seeger recorded the Bells of Rhymney (pronounced Rhumney and not Rhimney) written by the Welsh poet Idris Davies, which was also recorded by John Denver.
I was reminded of the Challenger and Columbia shuttle disasters at the time of the final shuttle flight a couple of weeks ago. When Challenger blew up shortly after take off on January 28th 1986 I had just come home from hospital after the birth of our daughter Rhiannon, and watched, in shock, the take off on television. John Denver had hoped to be the first civilian to take part in a mission, but the place was awarded to a teacher, Christa McAuliffe, and in tribute wrote 'Flying for Me'.
I'm a child of space exploration, and as a science teacher know first hand that children are still fascinated by space. I accept that the world needs to have different priorities now, but can't help but feel that something has been lost...