Reading the papers over the weekend, I could not help but be reminded that this week sees the 80th anniversary of the Blitz, the German bombing campaign against Great Britain. It began late in the afternoon of 7 September 1940, when 300 German bombers flew in over London to attack the docks in the first of 57 consecutive nights of bombing and was to last 8 months.
is to my regret, as a student of classics, that I have taken so long to read the meditations of the Roman Emperor and philosopher, Marcus Aurelius. Partly because they are a rather well-known and interesting piece of classical literature that I somehow managed miss while at university, but mainly because I would have found them useful insights as I started to navigate my way through the modern day world of work.
The job seemed simple enough. The wall in the front garden had fallen down and needed to be rebuilt. Being a modern man, this felt like an opportunity to put a personal mantra to the test: that in the age of the internet there is nothing a chap or chapess cannot accomplish if he puts in a spot of effective googling and a little bit of effort. I had resolved numerous office troubles this way, and now, I thought, I had the opportunity to apply my tactic to some home maintenance. I’m working from home these days anyways, so I have the time. Away with the cost of getting a professional, I would do it myself.
The ancients knew that a man’s forebears play an important part in his identity. As ever, I cannot help but think that Romans were onto something here, something from which we in our hyper-individualised age of self-actualisation could do well to learn. For, not withstanding the popularity of sites such as Ancestry and Findmypast, we tend not give our forebears quite the same role in our lives today. But we should.