Well read-head: Births, Deaths and Marriages
Let me begin with a couple of disclaimers.
I’m the first to acknowledge that – unlike the creator of this column Leigh Sales – I don’t have red hair (or even muted tones of burgundy) although I’ve occasionally been a little daring at the hairdressers.
Just a little.
And secondly, I’m pretty sure I’m not nearly as funny as the aforementioned redhead.
But she’s gone on holidays and we’re mates from way back so for some reason that made her feel relaxed enough to pass the baton for a couple of Well Red-Head columns.
I credit my mother for my love of books.
My younger sister and I would celebrate the end of each school week with 20 cents worth of mixed lollies (my favourite were the ‘fags’, followed closely by the ‘teeth’) and an hour in the town library where we’d choose books we’d desperately hope wouldn’t disappoint because it’d be another week before we got back there.
Now I find myself reading fewer books and more of everything else but let me share a little with you.
I’m completely addicted to the New York Times wedding pages so to try to make that admission slightly less damaging to my reputation I’d calling this column Births, Deaths and Marriages.
1. A woman died in New York City. A small boxed classified appeared in the paper. “Valerie E. Pringle passed away in August 2009. This notification is to inform Mr Pringle of her passing.” It was so strange I googled her name and discovered I wasn’t the only one whose curiosity had been spiked. It was a Manhattan mystery and even a producer for CBS’s “48 Hours” blogged about it.
2. There were 37 hangings in the US in 2008. And every one of those prisoners would have been offered a final supper. What they eat has fascinated many writers including Ty Treadwell who co-wrote “Last Suppers”. And read this short piece for more tidbits about ‘Dining on Death Row’.
3. Now for something a little cheerier. The New York Times wedding pages have weathered decades of changing attitudes towards marriage, have appeared in Sex and the City and in 2002 created their own headlines by including gay couples for the first time. Each week they feature one particular story. They are most often beautifully written and make my Sunday mornings. Try this one for starters.
4. This one involves death and marriage but not in that order. Since 2003, the largest oral history project of its kind - StoryCorps - has been collecting the stories of ordinary people delivered by them in their own words. They’re all being peserved at the Library of Congress. Listen (but avoid the temptation to just read the transcript) to this one from Christmas Day. Keep a tissue close by.
5. There’s another terrific column in the New York Times on a Sunday (oh how I love those Sunday mornings stretched out with the paper) called Modern Love. There are different authors every week but they’re delightful.
6.This is one marriage where you can be sure the couple is starting off with a terrific sense of humor. You may already have seen it. If not, watch it again. It’ll make you smile every time. It’s been viewed more than 37 million times. And I know I only account for the first million.
7. December 2009 was the first month since the Iraq war began that not one American soldier died in combat in that country. The situation is far different in Afghanistan. This is a fascinating story about the wife of a soldier and her approach to her husband’s death.
8. It was a story that everyone was writing, watching, talking about. Read this piece on the burial of JFK, especially the hauntingly beautiful 6th paragraph. It’s lost nothing through the decades.
9. Eat, Love Pray was an international bestseller. I didn’t like it. Elizabeth Gilbert’s New York lovelorn angst irritated me. She’s finally delivered the sequel about her subsequent marriage to the Romeo she fell in love with in the first book. Someone else will have to read and let me know if it’s any good. Life’s too short.
10. I realise I’ve made it to Number 10 without mentioning the B part of this column. Well let me offer you the birth of a new year and the birth of a marriage. It’s also about the birth of a new career and new media. Jim Macmillan is a friend who was once a daily newspaper photographer in Philadelphia. Now he’s a leading new media journalist/photographer/lecturer who has 71,000 followers on Twitter. He married Kathy Matheson on New Years Eve. Phones had to be switched off “unless you are tweeting”. The evening was facebooked, tweeted and streamed live. Jim’s doing a lot of serious stuff as well. Have a look at his page. You’ll see the live video from the night there as well.
- Follow Lisa on twitter at http://twitter.com/lisamillar
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