No Man Is An Island
How are things panning out down there in Levin?
Well, here I am. I’ve had 100 years of life and I’ve got good friends and family looking after me. They make sure I get a good feed. I’m treated very well indeed.
Yes, I am 100. Old Phil got into his 104th year before he passed out. I’ve had people say to me, ‘You’ve only got a few years to go.’
What! ‘Only a few years to go!’ Isn’t that a bit rude?
Oh that’s not all they say. That’s not the half of it. There’s more to it than that! Listen to this. ‘Only a few years to go until you’ve caught up to Old Phil.’
I remember that in those days he got telegrams sent to him around the time of his birthdays. I’ve got a whole bundle of them, up in the old house in Palmerston, from all over the place. In those days we had the New Zealand Post and Telegraph service, and you could send a telegram anywhere in the country for about a shilling — a bit more if you were in a hurry and wanted to get it stamped ‘URGENT’.
And of course people followed the news in the local paper. It was all very newsworthy at the time. The older people subscribed to the local paper, and you got it delivered everyday by a newspaper boy — all rolled up and flung over the fence. People were quite religious about it — you had to have your dose of the paper every day. And people talked to each other about the latest news — they’d quote what they’d read in the paper.
I remember when I was in Halcombe once, visiting the Wischnowskys, and some of those people got the London Times. That was one of the top newspapers of the whole world. A good reliable paper. The London Times. You could get it in New Zealand. It was important to everyone, from the common people and to the government. ‘It’s in the London Times’, they’d say.
Did they quote it like the Bible?
Most certainly. Like the Word of God. ‘It’s in the Times,’ they’d say. ‘The LONDON Times!’
Well I came across this quote — I’m sure I was in Halcombe at the time — anyway there it was, in the London Times — this quotation by a man called John Donne. That name is spelled D O N N E, but pronounced Don.
That paper — The London Times — had spelled out something newsworthy, and along with it there was what John Donne said.
‘Man is not an island unto himself, but rather he is part of a promontory — of the whole — anything we add or take away — affects the lot.’
It was something like that. Anyway, that’s the gist of it, and what he said made sense, and I got to work on it, to find out more about this bloke. Who the devil is this John Donne that’s making these statements? I thought he was the editor of the London Times. That’s what I thought. It was a newsworthy and reliable paper, and you couldn’t get higher than that. He was the man. He spelled it out, and it’s true. I’ve come to realise that. We’re all part of the whole.
‘No man is an island unto himself.’
Yes, I read that first in Halcombe.
From the 1624 Meditation 17, from Devotions Upon
"No man is an iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.’
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.