Thursday, February 10, 2005

Jesus was here

now that it seems more or less universally accepted that sea-levels will start rising fairly soon with the melting of the ice-caps, I'm wondering how much the disappearance of this vast amount of habitable and cultivable land has been factored into socio-economic forecasts. it's going to be serious enough here, when the entire populations of these thousands of maritime communities are going to have to start relocating inland, but in some cases whole nations, like Bangladesh, where most of the population lives at sea-level, are going to be displaced.
I checked in to the environment agency's flood projection model and discovered that, by chance, we've chosen to live just a few metres above the worst-case flooding scenario (at least for the forseeable future) around here. we live about thirty miles from the sea, but before the local Abbot initiated the drainage of what are now the Somerset Levels in the fifteenth-century, our town had a harbour. local legend has it that the boy Jesus landed here when he accompanied his uncle Joseph on one of his trading trips. it's one of the stories concocted by those wily old abbots to drum up pilgrimage trade (the other was that the tombs of King Arthur and Queen Guinivere had been discovered in the Abbey), and it worked pretty well.
we believe it.
there's a solitary scrubby old tree on the north slope of a hill on the edge of town called Wearyall Hill. the old harbour was where the Safeways (whoops - Morrisons now - gone to the dogs if you ask me) car park is now at the foot of the hill (they'll be drowned - good riddance, I say). the tree in question is supposed to be descended from the tree that sprang from the staff that Joseph planted there when he stepped out of his boat, one hand leaning on His shoulder, thereby, presumably, conducting the miraculous staff-becomes-tree effect. anyway, it's still known as the Holy Thorn, and we stand by the story. it is, actually, an oddity - a variety of hawthorn that's endemic to the Middle East and doesn't appear anywhere else in the UK. the local hippies and Buddhists and pagans keep it decorated with colourful ribbons. the Christians, by and large, ignore it. embarassed, I guess, by all that pluralist idolatry.
we like that, too.

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