There were two deaths recently which hit the headlines around the world, though I’m sure one was probably less reported outside of Latin America. They were the deaths of the North American comedian and television host Joan Rivers who was 81, and the Argentinean rock star Gustavo Cerrati who was 55.
I didn’t really know much about Joan Rivers as I’m not a fan of the kind of programmes she normally presented. I´m not that interested in what celebrities are doing, who they are doing it with, what they are wearing when they do it, how much what they are wearing cost or who designed it. I knew who she was, recognised her if by chance I happened to see her on television and vaguely remember that she sometimes appeared on the red carpet with her daughter, but that was as far as my knowledge of her went.
Here are a few of her one-liners that caught my eye and made me chuckle.
"I've had so much plastic surgery, when I die they will donate my body to Tupperware."
"I am definitely going to watch the Emmys this year! My make-up team is nominated for Best Special Effects."
"I said to my husband, 'Why don't you call out my name when we're making love?'. He said, "I don't want to wake you up."
"My best birth control now is just to leave the lights on."
"You know why I feel older? I went to buy sexy underwear and they automatically gift wrapped it."
The other death was of one of Latin America's most popular rock stars, Gustavo Adrián Cerati Clark, who died four years after falling into a coma after suffering a stroke at the end of a concert in May 2010 in Caracas, Venezuela.
He was born in Buenos Aires and was the lead singer of the rock band, Soda Stereo which was formed in 1982 by him as guitarist and vocalist, bass player Hector "Zeta" Bosio and drummer Charly Alberti. The band achieved huge success across the Spanish-speaking world during the 1980s.
Their biggest hits - Cuando Pase el Temblor, Musica Ligera and La Ciudad de la Furia - became anthems for a whole generation in Latin America and Spain in the 1980s and 1990s. Cerati cited British rock band The Police as one of Soda's main influences. Soda split up in 1997 but reunited briefly in 2007 for a farewell tour.
Cerrati died from a respiratory arrest on Thursday 04 September at a Buenos Aires clinic.
While on the subject of music, I recently helped one of my students with her English homework which consisted of answering some questions about the internet. One question asked what she principally used internet for, to which she answered, watching films, listening to music and doing her school homework.
Another question was how people did these things before the World Wide Web existed, and she answered that people watched films in the cinema, did their homework using reference books from the library, and before she answered how people listened to music I showed her one of my vinyl LP's from my record collection. She looked at the cover with a face that made it clear she had never seen one of these before.
“What’s inside,” she asked.
“An LP,” I replied.
“A what?” “Show me, I want to see it.”
I took out the LP, and her face was a mixture of amazement, intrigue and disbelief. And yes, I felt old, but also nostalgic and amused.
“I used to buy two or three of these every week when I was a teenager,” I told her, and I showed her the turntable I have if I want to listen to them.
“Wow, incredible,” She said. Shocked, stunned and amazed are adjectives I would use on her behalf to describe the experience for her.
And now to something even older than my record collection!
Once upon a time, in the dark days when internet didn’t exist, wasn’t even a vague idea in someone’s head which could one day become a reality, and wasn’t something that we couldn’t live without even though we had done so for so many years, there lived a hermit called Saint Govan, who before his death in 586, lived in a fissure on the side of a coastal cliff near Bosherston, Pembrokeshire, Wales.
Who St Govan really was is steeped in legend, which means no one is absolutely certain; I have read that St Govan may possibly be Sir Gwaine, one of King Arthur’s knights, who entered into a state of retreat in his later years, but also that he came from Ireland.
When St Govan came to Pembrokeshire he was already quite elderly. It’s possible that he came to visit a Welsh Abbot or he may have come to find descendents of his beloved teacher, who was from Solva in Pembrokeshire.
Whatever happened, St Govan apparently stayed for the rest of his life in his cell, worshiping, preaching and teaching. His saintliness was marked by the Church, which designated March 26th as St Govan's Day, and by followers who built the Chapel, dating from the 13th century, over the cave using local limestone. The site may have been of monastic importance since the 5th century.
Legend says St Govan's hand prints are imprinted on the floor of his cave and that his body is buried under the chapel's altar. Another legend says that if a person makes a wish, enters the fissure, and is able to turn around, his wish will be granted.
Outside the Chapel is a large boulder known as the Bell Rock. Legend says that St Govan was given a silver bell which was stolen from by pirates. St Govan prayed for its return, and angels retrieved it and placed it inside a rock where it would be safe. St Govan used to tap the rock which gave a note a thousand times stronger than the note of the original bell.
In the floor near the main entrance of the chapel there was a well, the water from which was a cure for eye complaints, skin diseases, and rheumatism. The well outside the Chapel (which is also dry now) was said to be a wishing well and a healing well.
In the south of Colombia, there is an extremely beautiful church with an interesting tale. The church is called Las Lajas Sanctuary, and is located in Ipiales, Nariño, in the canyon of the Guáitara River. The present church was built between 1916 and 1949 with donations from local churchgoers. It rises 100 metres high above the river and is connected to the opposite side of the canyon by a bridge 50 metres high. The name Laja comes from the name of a type of flat, sedimentary rock similar to shale which is common in the area.
The Spanish Franciscan Juan de Santa Gertrudis mentions the sanctuary in his book, Wonders of Nature. a four volume chronicle of his journey in the region between 1756 and 1762. This is possibly the oldest reference to its existence.
So there you are, now you have some jokes to tell, some music to listen to, and some churches to visit.
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