Monday, January 23, 2006

Whale Nation

Oh, the poor whale.
Holly Finch, fellow KCU member and July 7th passenger ran to see him as did many other Londoners. It sounds like a magical story: The Whale who Came to London. But it had a sad ending.
What can he teach us? It was inspiring to see so many people wishing him well, the sad little pats people gave him when they waded into the water to try to encourage him to keep swimming. Small gestures of solidarity: none of us is alone in this big city. We breathe the same air and we live in close promimity to each other and however different we seem to each other, we can wish each other well and try to help each other on our journey. This was one of the things I learned last summer. Even a giant visitor from the mysterious ocean depths was surrounded by hopeful new friends when he swam up the Thames and past the Houses of Parliament .

I am sorry he did not finish his journey. Or perhaps he did, he swam into a strange new world, and he knew he was dying. But he was not butchered, as he would have been a hundred years ago. He was wondered at and stroked and everybody wanted very much to help him and he died, frightened and shocked but with creatures of a different species anxious to be at his side as he struggled to breathe the cold London air.

We were awed by his presence and we are sad at his passing. He made us stop and think and wonder.

I re-read a favourite book last night.Whale Nation by Heathcote Williams is a wonderful meditation on these ancient wild creatures and I really recommend that you read the whole thing if you have time. And these people not only sell the book, with beautiful photos but they raise money to protect dolphins and whales, here and all over the world.

I used to sponsor a young dolphin who lived off the Moray Firth called 'Whiskey'. If you were sad at the death of the whale who came to London, you can pledge money to help his fellow creatures and that might make make you feel a small glow of satisfaction on this gloomy mid-winter Monday.


Blogger ozzyru27 said...

It was so incredibly sad on saturday, with the thames whale dying after hours of exhaustion and his rescus attempt ending in his death. I passed my driving test last week, and on Saturday aternoon was the first time I was driving to my cousin house which is quite a way, and as I built up the courage to get in the car, I kept watching the tele, on sky news and getting more and more unconfortable and unhappy about the whales progress. My other half watched him from the Thams only a short walk from his station, and I got egular updates on the phone, but I felt so anxious for him and the people rescuing him. It certainly didnt help with my journey as every traffic light I stopped at I suddenyl thought of the whale and then thought oh my god, how do I drive!!! When I returned home at night, and switched on the news immediately I was sadenned by the news of his death and spent the night crying! I wonder if he did eneter the thames to die? I have heard before how sometimes whales go to a river or quieter place when they are ill to in fact beach themselves and die peacfully, maybe this was his initial aim, I hope his mum realised this and isnt still lokking for him. Its so sad, but yes it did once again bring an incredible solidarity in London, one again of which we can be proud of. I enede the night, with amad moment with the other half on night shift so on my lonesome with the cat, we said a prayer together that the whale got to whale heaven safely!!!! I hope he did.
Ruth x

January 23, 2006 7:01 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Rachel,

I find your words so moving. Everything you write touches my heart. What you have written about the whale has made me well up again and whenever I read your blog I think of the Gustave Flaubert quote “Language is a cracked kettle on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, while all the time we long to move the stars to pity.”

Thank you for your wonderful words.

Joon Flowers

January 23, 2006 7:32 pm  
Blogger fjl said...

This was nice. I wondered who'd have a big enough heart to write him up. 'Stop, think and wonder' is fitting.
In psychology degree work we studied alot of predisposition and instinct and this story made me wonder and wonder, why did he come?
He must have had some kind of innate wish to discover us. And it genuinely can't be a coincidence that he got as far as London. So why?
It's touching. Nature is full of contradictions and extremes.
This is the stuff of which legends are made. Incidentally had he brought his girl we might have had a new Loch Ness legend in a year.
I was touched that he died in his efforts.

January 24, 2006 1:11 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We aussies understand how you felt about the whale perhaps you can understand how we feel about the Japanese entering our waters in antarctic and killing whales under the bullshit of "scientific experiment"

January 24, 2006 3:58 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last week I read on the bbc news website about how the Japanese are now saying they have to hunt whales to dissect as they cannot get enough cadavers for their work. - Since when do we have the same insides as whales?! (answer - never) - wot a load of cobblers

I wish someone with authority and power would just shut up and do something about them for once and for all before they die.

The "Thames Whale" was a northern bottle nosed whale - they are already endangered. Lets hope she was ill and didn't have her echo location organ burst by the military blasts - we'll find out in the next few days.

January 24, 2006 6:03 pm  
Blogger aidanrad said...

Ah, the "People's Whale"...
Obviously intriguing to see such an unlikely creature suddenly pitch up along the Thames, and in Westminster too.
But the main effect on me was, I confess, just another awesome reminder of the power of the Thames. Just trying to begin to imagine the inordinate amounts and varities that dirty old river has paid witness to... The wildlife, the crimes, the bodies, the rubbish, the rockers, the wreakers, the frolickers and the flaneurs...
Just find the Thames to be the fullest and most enriching of all London lore, this latest whale is a fascinating - yet just another - chapter arrival in its history...

January 25, 2006 12:48 am  

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