A little hope erupts when a Pompeiian party looks like last ...

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A little hope erupts when a Pompeiian party looks like last Saturday

Its unfashionable to compare past and the future, but I came upon a mural from the ancient citys ruins ...

I don’t know exactly where it is now, but I once bought a small piece of coal that had been brought up from the bottom of the sea, excavated from the boiler room of the Titanic. Whenever anyone came around I’d haul it out and make them stare at it, while whispering: “Look! That was on Titanic!”

It’s entirely possible that I had been suckered by an enterprising coal merchant and it was just a piece of dark material broken off from someone’s braai briquette, but so what? When I stared at that small hunk of shiny blackness I was washed with oceanic thoughts, and I imagined the serene ship and the lights from the cabins making broken golden bars on the still star-spangled sea and I thought of the passengers and their sudden lurch into chaos and ruin, and I shuddered a little with awe.

It must annoy historians whose discipline it is to imagine the entire past, to live in the mundane, incrementally changing nature of it, but civilians like me need big events, dramatic moments, stories of sudden changes to focus our attention...

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