Thursday, March 06, 2008

Another Thursday?

Time to announce our weekly Covenant Zone meeting. We meet every Thursday, 7-9pm, in the atrium of the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library, in front of Blenz Coffee. We talk about all the things we talk about on this blog. Join us, in the blue scarves, if you can.

Usually I try to say a little to imagine how each of us has a role in figuring the covenant we will "sign", if we are to be successful guarantors of each other's freedom. But I probably tend to say similar things week after week.

So this week, I will just point out that for all the talk in the world, covenants begin in un-predictable, unscripted moments when memorable events unfold and the memory of some iconic action or individual serves as a model for others to follow, because this icon has been in various ways an unprecedented revelation of the problem and meaning of our times, and what it is possible and necessary for us to do in defense of our shared freedom.

In search of examples, I sometimes go through the papers on Thursday mornings looking for something to introduce our weekly meeting. Today I find this bloody brilliant story. Here's a man, a model for us all, eh Sean?
LONDON -- Already Britain's oldest employee, 101-year-old Buster Martin now aims to become the world's oldest marathon runner by completing the London Marathon and celebrating with a pint of beer and a cigarette.

Sprightly and bearded, he completed a half marathon on the weekend in five hours 13 minutes. The former army physical training instructor works three days a week for a London plumbing firm and says he has trained for the April 13 race in his spare time.

"I've said I'll attempt it," he told Reuters by telephone from his workplace at Pimlico Plumbers. "I haven't said I'll complete it. If I do make it, all the better. I hadn't thought of doing it before but someone asked me and the money goes to charity so why not?"

His sponsorship money will go to the Rhys Daniels Trust, which provides temporary accommodation for families of patients in specialist children's hospitals.

Martin, who had 17 children and returned to work at the age of 99 saying he was bored after two years of retirement, would beat the previous record for world's oldest marathon runner by eight years.

"If I finish, I'll do what I always do and have a pint and a fag," he said. "People ask what is my secret but I haven't got one. They say fags and booze are bad for you -- but I'm still here, aren't I?"
I'd never heard of Buster Martin before. Obviously the Brits are not making enough of their best role models. But I found this recent story that leaves me wondering why all the kids are reading about Harry Potter. Here's a real orphan for you:
Britain's oldest employee has told how he single-handedly fought off a gang of muggers.

Buster Martin, 100, a van cleaner for Pimlico Plumbers, was walking to a bus stop in south London when three youths pounced on him from behind.

Despite their best efforts to subdue him, the Second World War veteran launched a counterattack and sent them running empty-handed.

He said: "They obviously thought I would be an easy touch because I'm old. But they soon found out I'm still a good fighter.

"They just jumped on me and caught me unexpected. But they didn't realise how fast I would turn around on them.

"I was confused and I was lashing out at them. How the helI I found the strength I don't know. I think it came from my temper. I don't lose it often but when I do it's not a pretty sight."

The gang struck at around 10.30pm on Thursday as Mr Martin was leaving the Fox on the Hill pub in Denmark Hill.

Their blows sent him crashing to the floor but he managed to spring back up and defend himself:

"I hit one in the groin and I kicked another one. The foot I used had been operated on a week before for an in-growing toenail. They must have done a good job on it because it worked bloody well."

The muggers eventually gave up and ran off leaving their victim with cuts to his head and bruised ribs.

Mr Martin staggered to nearby King's College Hospital where he was kept in overnight.

He reported for duty at Lambeth based Pimlico Plumbers' the next day but bosses refused to let him work. Managing director-Charlie Mullins said: "It's typical of Buster to carry on as usual. He couldn't see what all the fuss was about. But he needs to take it easy for the moment.

"Had he been a weaker character it might have finished him off but Buster doesn't back down from anything. That's the kind of person he is."

Born in France in 1906, Mr Martin was brought to England when he was three months old and went to an orphanage in Cornwall after his parents died. But he was thrown out at the age of 10 "for eating too much and growing too fast".

He then travelled to London and found work running errands for stallholders at Brixton market. In 1920 he married and joined the Army. After leaving in 1955 he returned to the market.

Mr Martin, who lives in sheltered accommodation in Lambeth Walk, has 17 children and fathered the first at 15.

The man who celebrates his 101st birthday in September said: "As long as I still wake up in the morning, I will continue to work."

From Wikipedia:
Until last year, Martin had never taken a day off for sickness in his ninety years of work, until an ingrown toenail forced him to take a few months' leave of work.[5]
Martin plans to continue working at Pimlico Plumbers, and says he will "only give up when they put me in a wooden box".[5] He also offered his view on older workers: "Employers should pick people like us; we want to work and it puts money in our pockets and keeps us active".[6] Martin has recently joined The Zimmers, a band consisting of forty old age pensioners. The band recently recorded a cover of The Who's "My Generation" as a single as part of their debut album. Martin offered his views on the band: "I've never been in the music charts before and I'm sure we can give some of those young bands a run for their money. Maybe a group of pensioners can have a hit song."[8][9] Martin also accepted a position on men's magazine FHM as an "agony uncle," offering advice to the magazine's readers.[10]
Now there's a guy who knows his national covenant. And the amazing thing is, he's not just ritualistically repeating the same old same old, but renewing it in creative ways.

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