Friday, May 30, 2008

Of oaks & apples

If we play a little game and I ask you to pick a random number between 1 and say 250 what are the chances that you'll hit on the same number as the next Internet tweaker.

Go on pick a number.

Here is a picture of NZ sky & pohutukawa (one of our most luscious trees) to stop you peaking at the number below.

So who picked 216 - be honest.

The other day our delightful media broadcast this number on the front page of the NZ Herald & it stirred a memory.

This story is not nice.

On 9th January this year a 22 year old woman was stabbed to death - 216 times. Her name was Sophie Elliot.

I did not read the news story at the time, but have fished out a description here - read or leave as you will. I am surprised, but I guess I shouldn't be, at the descriptions that are published, especially her mother's.

The number 216 stirred a memory, but I haven't been quite with it this week & didn't take it further. Two days ago synchronicity & my blessed intuition came calling good & strong.

Google had one of their googly designs on display - a couple of guys in the snow - I know I should have got it, but I had to let my mouse do the walking & of course, of course, May 29, the day Hillary & Tenzing reached the summit of Everest in '53. Seeing how this good man has been such a part of my life this year, I grasped hold of my mouse's paw & we set off to Wikiland.

"May 29 is the 149th day of the year (150th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 216 days remaining until the end of the year."

Big flashing light now because I know, I know, that I've read about this number earlier this year & I'm sure it was from that wizard weaver Mr Taylor. I went hunting & persistence paid off.

"The number 216 applies to very many serious crimes and prominent events. It certainly begs the questions "Who is using this code in this way? Who for? and What for? It is even likely that near enough is good enough sometimes when we are talking codes. Just a day or so out is still going to signal to those in the know just who is responsible for a certain deed. And this means too, that codes can be wrapped around and harboured within other dates etc."

Full article here;
One of the links isn't working but still very informative - Ellis posted a story following a British headline earlier this year stating "A total of 216 police officer jobs will be axed in Greater Manchester."

Checking back onto 29th May, I found that it is/was Oak Apple Day. Now I swear I came across that name for the first time a day or two ago, but I couldn't remember where - it didn't matter, it just meant pay attention, so I paid.

"Oak Apple Day was a holiday celebrated in England on 29 May to commemorate the restoration of the monarchy in Great Britain and Ireland (sorry Gavin) in May 1660."

Now this is interesting if you bear in mind how fortuitous it was considered back in 1953, that Hillary should have conquered Everest on the eve of the QEII coronation. Hillary was promptly knighted - wrapping up the whole event very nicely with royal wrapping paper & a monarchical bow.

I am not sure how it goes in the UK, but in NZ Queen's Birthday commoners, sorry public holiday falls on the 1st June. Bearing in mind the comments of Ellis Taylor, that even a day or two out, is ok when working with codes, the 216 code of May 29, being so close to 1st June becomes even more fortuitous.

Briefly the Oak Apple tale tells of Charles II hiding in an oak tree to escape capture by the Roundhead army. In actual fact May 29 was his birthday, and to make a very tasty little symbolic snack we find that this regal comet made a spectacular re-entry into London on his 30th birthday in 1660 - his second coming you could say (code-name 'The Restoration').

If we briefly prise apart the Oak Apple story we get two distinct symbols.

"The oak is a common symbol of strength and endurance and has been chosen as the national tree of England, Estonia, France, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Basque Country, Wales & Serbia."
Strange, it seemed to me, was finding that in 2004 America "announced ... legislation designating the oak tree as the official tree of the United States" - for those of us schooled in the grandiosity of this land, we may have thought their leaders might have opted for something showier - a grand Sequoia perhaps?

But then what have we here?

"In Celtic mythology it (the Oak) is the tree of doors, believed to be a gateway between worlds, or a place where portals could be erected" - now why am I not surprised?

The apple is pretty familiar to most of us. As a female I have long had to endure the shame of my greeeaaatttt grand-mama who couldn't leave the goddamn things alone (apparently).
There is a virtual barrel-full of tales of golden apples, poisoned apples & Big Apples - enough for a very large, if somewhat indigestible pie.

All in all 29 May has an interesting bouquet - audacious, some may say a little headstrong, certainly precocious, & leaving just a hint of sacrificial aftertaste:

1660 - English Restoration

1727 - Peter II becomes Tsar of Russia

1790 - Rhode Island becomes the 13th US State

1848 - Wisconsin becomes the 30th US State

1964 - Emperor Maximilian of Mexico arrives in Mexico for the first time

1886 - Chemist John Pemberton places his first ad for Coca-cola (in Atlanta Journal)

1953 - Hillary & Tenzing, first to reach summit of Everest

1954 - First of the annual Bilderberg conferences

1964 - Arab League meets in East Jerusalem to discuss the Palestinian situation in Israel, leading to the formation of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation

1985 - Heysel Stadium disaster. At the European Cup final in Brussels, 39 football fans die and hundreds are injured when a dilapidated retaining wall collapses after Liverpool F.C fans breach a fence separating them from Juventus F.C fans

1988 - President Ronald Reagan begins his first visit to the Soviet Union as he arrives in Moscow for a superpower summit with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev

1990 - Boris Yeltsin is elected president of the Russian SFSR by the Russian parliament

1999 - Olusegun Obasanjo takes office as President of Nigeria, the first elected and civilian head of state in Nigeria after 16 years of military rule

1999 - Space Shuttle Discovery completes the first docking with the International Space Station

2004 - The World War II Memorial is dedicated in Washington, D.C (there's more to come on memorials, but that's for another post).