Columbia, ignorance, old age, fine yachts and “Lines” !

Today I received a hit from a new country and I’m delighted to add COLUMBIA to my very select readership ! Watching the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games on television, I was struck by how many countries there are and the teams of athletes just kept coming and coming – all 204 of them ! I haven’t bought an atlas for over thirty years and it quickly became apparent how ignorant I am !

I studied “A Level” geography at night school but decided to give it up so that I could concentrate on my daytime studies, in art and design. If truth be told, I also found it somewhat tedious, learning about such excruciating things as the annual cod quotas in Nova Scotia from 1958-1965 or just how much wheat was exported from North Dakota ! I much prefer physical geography, such as glaciers, volcanoes, earthquakes and tectonic plates. I used to pride myself on knowing just where countries are and the names of their capital cities – after Friday I’m beginning to wonder where I have been for the last thirty years ! Despite regularly listening to the news on the radio and television and avidly reading the newspapers,  I seem to have missed an awful lot – new countries seem to spring up on you like old age ! One minute you’re dancing the night away – then you’re constantly knackered, your back aches when you bend over to pull your on socks on in the morning etc etc – Fortunately, at 59, I have good health, I still have most of my own teeth and I only need glasses for reading.  I’m sure there are plenty of joys around the corner but I won’t dwell on them just yet !

Columbia was the very first space shuttle and following the tragedy in 2003, when all seven astronauts died on board, she was the last. The shuttle flew a total of 27 very successful missions before her final mission, when she was destroyed during re-entry .

I am also reminded of the America’s Cup and the first match sailed in 12 metre racing yachts. “Columbia”, designed by Olin Stevens, was the very successful New York Yacht Club’s defender and in 1958 she won all four races – sadly, leaving Great Britain’s Sceptre, of The Royal Yacht Squadron, in her wake. I was only six at the time but my passion for fast racing yachts must have stemmed from memories of this and my fathers, much smaller, 5.5 metre yacht, Abu, which was kept on the East Coast. Sadly, he sold her and had a succession of other boats, large and small, fast and very fast !  Abu recently underwent a big restoration and she is still very much alive and well – a testament to good design and good traditional boat building. As a young child I remember walking around boatyards with my parents, who would stop and admire a classic boat and use the phrase “look at those lines”.  I didn’t quite understand them at the time and it was only in later life that I realised just what they meant.

To conclude, now I too get a lot of pleasure looking at “lines” and appreciating “form” – as an artist making lines is a daily passion ! I’m off to my studio now to make some “lines” (and the odd cup of lapsang suchong tea) !

I’ll add some photos later !!

About chriswoodartist

painter, print-maker and illustrator

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