The Big Issue : Edition 474
THE BIG ISSUE 26 DEC 2014 – 8 JAN 2015 19 Taking Flight Five. Grumpy Sister Aiden in Grade Six. I don’t know if they went swimming or even if their convent was near the water. I don’t tell him because there’s not much to tell. Some memories are like a bird flying away. THE CLOSEST I come to flying is snorkelling. Floating upon the water, which is a few metres deep, looking down upon the hidden world: the fish, the stingrays, the sea grasses, the rocks, the urchins, the sand and its patterns. If there is just sand below me I imagine an aerial view of a desert: its ridges and dunes and undulations, its trails. Its tracks and indentations, its peaks and troughs, its hills and valleys. And how it changes with the wind, with the waves. And then I remember to look up from the desert, to get my bearings, to make sure I haven’t drifted into deeper water. IVAN WAS A runner. Marathons. Twenty-six miles. All over the world. He crossed finish lines in good times. He and his pigeons know a thing or two about long distances. Marathons, I read, are named after the plain of Marathon in Greece, where the Athenians defeated the Persians in 490 BC, and from where a runner took the news to Athens, more than 40 kilometres away. I imagine the runner setting a fair pace, given the importance of the news. But where, I wonder, were the carrier pigeons that day? Running, and a lifetime of working outside, have taken their toll on Ivan. He’s got a pacemaker under his skin, skin scarred by the sun and surgeons’ scalpels. He couldn’t go to his daughter’s wedding in London a few years back. “The pacemaker and the long plane flights... Too risky. I was disappointed – geez, I was – but they had a camera and a laptop in the church over there and I was able to watch the wedding at home on Skype. Imagine that!” I imagine a satellite sending the wedding ceremony from a church on one side of the world to a lounge room on the other. A modern-day carrier pigeon, conveying messages across hemispheres, over mountains and cities, over backyards and beaches, over refineries and phone towers, convents and sporting fields. Over deserts and oceans. » Vin Maskell is a regular contributor to The Big Issue. His last article was ‘Best on Ground’ (Ed#464), about the Football Integration Development Association competition.