Were you dream­ing of a white Box­ing Day?

Antelope Valley Press - - News -

Well, we al­most en­joyed a white Christ­mas. It snowed for the sec­ond time in a month on our fair val­ley, giv­ing us a white Box­ing Day in­stead.

Box­ing Day, cel­e­brated on the day af­ter Christ­mas in Great Bri­tain and many coun­tries of the for­mer Bri­tish Em­pire, has noth­ing to do with pugilism.

The term is be­lieved to have orig­i­nated with the cus­tom of wealthy fam­i­lies giv­ing the ser­vants a day off on Dec. 26 and send­ing them home to their fam­i­lies with a Christ­mas box.

At least some peo­ple got an un­ex­pected day off Thurs­day be­cause of the snow.

I felt a bit cheated, though, be­cause as I write, at 8 a.m. Thurs­day, we have just a dust­ing of snow here in down­town Lan­caster, while friends just a few miles away sent pic­tures of four or five inches.

Maybe next week we’ll get more. Forecast says chance of snow Mon­day.

Speak­ing of Great Bri­tain, I saw a video of Prime Min­is­ter Boris John­son launch­ing into a two-minute recita­tion from Homer’s “The Iliad”

— in the orig­i­nal Greek.

An im­pres­sive feat, indeed.

I as­sume he said ev­ery word and phrase cor­rectly, but I wouldn’t know. It was, ahem, all Greek to me.

In the old days, Bri­tish school­boys learned to re­cite the clas­sics by heart in Greek and Latin, but it is not as com­mon to­day.

Ac­cord­ing to his bio, John­son read (we would say ma­jored in) Clas­sics at Bal­liol Col­lege, Ox­ford, and was elected pres­i­dent of the Ox­ford Union (de­bat­ing so­ci­ety) in 1986.

It ap­pears both served him well.

I’m told I have a good mem­ory for dates, his­tor­i­cal facts, events, con­ver­sa­tions, etc., but I have never been good at recit­ing things from mem­ory.

Ac­tors are im­pres­sive in how they mem­o­rize lines, par­tic­u­larly on stage in live per­for­mances. Soap opera ac­tors, though, I think are most im­pres­sive.

Since their shows run about 44 min­utes a day (one hour mi­nus com­mer­cials), they learn a full movie’s worth of di­a­logue ev­ery three days.

This is the time of year when many pun­dits and ex­perts make pre­dic­tions about the year ahead. Few will come true.

Lao Tzu, a 6th Cen­tury BC Chi­nese poet, wisely said: “Those who have knowl­edge, don’t pre­dict. Those who pre­dict, don’t have knowl­edge.”

I saw an in­ter­est­ing piece from the Reader’s Digest site about pre­dic­tions that turned out wrong: the au­to­mo­bile will be a pass­ing fad, the tele­phone will be a pass­ing fad, the iPhone will never get a ma­jor share of the tech mar­ket.

Sci­en­tists in 1908 pre­dicted that au­to­mo­biles would fade from use be­cause the hu­man brain could not op­er­ate any­thing at a speed faster than a horse.

The great John Philip Sousa pre­dicted that recorded mu­sic would de­stroy all mu­si­cal abil­ity. Sousa wrote in 1906: A time will come when “mu­sic can be heard in the homes with­out the la­bor of study and close ap­pli­ca­tion, and with­out the slow process of ac­quir­ing

Few pre­dic­tions about the new year will ac­tu­ally come true

a tech­nique, it will be sim­ply a ques­tion of time when the am­a­teur dis­ap­pears en­tirely, and with him a host of vo­cal and in­stru­men­tal teach­ers, who will be with­out field or calling.”

That one is not that far off. How many fam­i­lies are en­ter­tained in their homes by mu­si­cal fam­ily mem­bers to­day as op­posed to 1906? How many mu­sic teach­ers are there?

Wil­liam P. War­ford’s col­umn ap­pears ev­ery Tues­day, Fri­day and Sun­day.

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