Sunday, 1 July 2012

Washed Out

It's another wet day. Constant, Cumbrian drizzle making the ground awash with water. Pools forming here and there, bubbling becks bursting with swirling froths of spring water. A mist eclipses the mountain tops, hanging in suspense, waiting for the rain to ease and until then, it's back to my writing.

Mill beck, Buttermere

I recently came across a quote by Milan Kundera, a writer from the Czech Republic who now lives in exile in France. He was born in 1929 and lived through the war and the German occupation. He says of history -

'History is nothing more than a thin thread of what is remembered stretched out over an ocean of what has been forgotten.'

I think this is so poignant and indicative of why it is essential that history is remembered. Of the stories we know from the past, many are merely 'thin threads.' However, once you start to dig, you uncover more threads. So the message to all literary archaeologists is to keep writing & keep digging.

That brings me to something I discovered about three years ago. Ok so it might not be all that riveting to some of you but I was fascinated. However I've since lost the source, which serves me right for not saving it. I was doing some research for a short story and came across an article written in a science magazine online. A student had been doing a research project into radio waves/frequencies and she was tuning in with radio equipment to detect the various waves in the atmosphere. Now, at this point I will admit that I'm not exactly being technical here but this isn't my field after all so I apologise.

What she discovered was a series of radio messages from World War 2. Apparently, following an official investigation it transpires they would have been from our own RAF pilots. Some were 'mayday' calls and were distressing to hear whilst others were riddled with interference and rendered unclear. From what I remember, the explanation for this phenomenon was something to do with residual VLF radio waves which continually bounce back and forth in the atmosphere. Of course it's more technical than that but to this day it intrigues me. Unfortunately I've never been able to rediscover the source and hence to check its authenticity.

Picture courtesy of expert infantry. Source

What I have found are stories about pilots picking up Morse code distress messages on their radios - one turned out to have been from a WW2 bomber that disappeared without a trace. (or so they said following investigation of the message by air traffic control) 

To me, this is fascinating and intriguing. It's almost like immortalizing the soul in a sense - voices preserved possibly for eternity. Or is it all merely a hoax? Please let me know your thoughts. If anyone can enlighten me I'd be very interested to hear from you.