A Memory for Dates

photoIt was very easy to learn and, over 50 years later, I can still do it – and sometimes still do so, much to the embarrassment of my family.

It is rather pretentious, though hugely enjoyable, to be able to do something in your 60s that you could do at eight years of age that involves remembering!

But it’s my one party piece; oddly, bizarrely and triumphantly, I can still remember all the Kings and Queens of England in chronological order from the time of Canute in 1016.

Indeed on a good day I can give you one detail from each reign as well.

I can do the same with the FA Cup – winners and losers, as well as the score, since 1900.

Yes, I know it’s rubbish, but it’s my rubbish and my memory for historical dates – though sadly not for maths – is very popular at the moment.

We are living in the age of the anniversary, the commemoration – looking back, sometimes hundreds of years.

It probably started in the 1990s with the 50th anniversary of D-Day and events in the Second World War.

I can remember that, as a Chaplain in the Royal British Legion, I wrote order of service after order of service for D-Day, VE Day, VJ Day and many more.

Having said that, it was a privilege to remember so many who were rapidly becoming so few.

Last year, of course, marked the start of the First World War.

At BBC Radio Gloucestershire, we are marking the events of the Great War and will continue to do so, with stories from the county, many of which have never come to light before, but which move us by their intimacy.

This year is also the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta in 1216; one of the steps toward our democratic society, which leads me to my final anniversary – only a five year one, but the most important.

The General Election in May will be the most keenly fought for many decades.

At BBC Radio Gloucestershire we will give the very best coverage for all the county constituencies; from debates and discussion to asking what you think.

Its one anniversary that’s fundamental to the life of our country so enjoy it; embrace it and be part of it.

Rev Canon Richard Atkins, Faith and Ethics Producer / Sunday Breakfast presenter, BBC Radio Gloucestershire

You can follow Richard on Twitter at @atkinsradio or listen to his show every Sunday morning on Radio Gloucestershire from 6am.

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