The Sagittarian has speculated about the title of my blog. My readers have varied tastes; in an attempt to please both of them, I will offer several different explanations, any or none of which may be true.
A memorable event in my early life (in fact the only memorable event in my early life), was playing the part of the ferryman's son in Ingmar Bergman's 1961 film, 'Through a Glass Darkly'. I was offered it through an old family connection, and the location was the island of Fårö, which was closed to normal visitors at the time because it contained secret military installations. But Bergman lived there, and this was the first of many films he made on the island. I was only there for two days and have limited memories of it all. I do recall that Gunnar Björnstrand, who played the novelist, was always pleased to see me and taught me a traditional greeting which I still remember; 'Gå bort du otäck litten räka'. Sadly Ingmar Bergman was by then unrecognisable from his famous rôle as Ilsa Lund in 'Casablanca'.
Newcastle's Long Bar is on the Great North Road, almost opposite Central Station. In those days it was very much a men-only bar. In retrospect it was a bad idea to have agreed to meet Tim Darkly there for a pint of Fed Special on the way to a party. I'd have been all right. Cherry loons and an Afghan coat might have escaped comment in a student town. But Darkly was dressed as a nurse, complete with balloons. It wasn't a fancy dress party; he always dressed as a nurse, and I should have remembered that. Even then, we might have got away with it, if he hadn't misjudged his embonpoint (the balloons were over-inflated) and jogged the arm of the diminutive Geordie standing next to him, causing him to spill beer down his shirt. The man said something very brief that neither of us caught, and very deliberately poured a significant amount of brown ale down Darkly's cleavage before turning away. Darkly asked me how we should respond and I, thinking that the best thing would be to buy the man a drink, said, "Through a glass, Darkly". Unfortunately he thought I said, 'Throw a glass, Darkly'.
I can tell you, should you ever be in a similar position, that the care offered in the Royal Victoria Infirmary is second to none.
My choice of hymn for our wedding was number 240 from Hymns Ancient & Modern, which is adapted from the poem 'Elixir' by George Herbert (1593 - 1632). It includes the verse, 'A man that looks on glass on it may stay his eye; or if he pleases, through it pass, and then the heaven espy'. (It's a pretty line, although the following verse gave me an opportunity to glance significantly at the Social Secretary; 'A servant with this clause makes drudgery divine: who sweeps a room, as for your laws, makes that and th' action fine'). The glass line seems to echo Corinthians 1, 13,8. "For now we see through a glass, darkly" - a line I've always had affection for, since I am not unknown for seeing life slightly hazily through a glass.