At the risk of sounding a little odd, I admit that I have been interested in the stories of natural and manmade disasters since I was a youngster. It wasn’t a morbid fascination for me; it was a genuine curiosity about the causes of tragic accidents and incidents. I wanted to understand how these catastrophes occurred. I wanted to learn about the ‘anatomy of disaster’
As I got a little older, other aspects of these types of events started to reveal to me how important they are in our collective history. Time and again we see humanity triumphing over adversity and becoming stronger, better and wiser for it.
In more recent years, I have found that individual stories of ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances have really resonated with me and inspired me. I have read many autobiographies from the survivors of these disasters and often the small details they remember serve to preserve not just the factual history of the event, but the human perception of the experience (it’s always about suffering but often accompanied by hope and joy).
My interest ranges from natural disasters (earthquakes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, tsunami) through to engineering and technological incidents (so-called ‘manmade’ disasters) – aircraft crashes, bridge collapses, mining cave-ins, explosions on oil rigs.
Very recently I visited the Titanic exhibition at Dock X, Canada Water and was overwhelmed by some of the artefacts on display. Not the big pieces of furniture or the heavy watertight doors from Titanic’s sister ship Olympic (impressive as they were to see!); but the tiny trinket of a victim; the shoes of a small child who had survived; the cuff links of one of the crew; the postcards that had been sent by passengers (such poignancy in the fact that the postcards arrived home, but some of the authors didn’t); the simple jewellery of a third-class woman who had ended up in the water but had been hauled into a lifeboat – she sadly died of hypothermia before the Carpathia was able to reach them.
As excited as I had been to see the exhibits, I was hit by a very illuminating thought as we made our way around the displays … it wasn’t the ‘things’ that fascinated me. It was the ‘stories’.
The personal effects preserved in this and various other exhibitions and museums around the globe are all simple symbols of lived lives and they stand alone – each piece a part of ‘the humanity of disaster’
I continue to read autobiographical work – Jim Lovell of Apollo 13 fame, Chesley Sullenberger – the pilot of US Airways Flight 1549 (the ‘Miracle on the Hudson’) and Violet Jessop (a stewardess on the Titanic) to name a few.
The stories of these lived lives never fail to inspire me and the ‘stories’ of our clients often have the same impact. I love reading the articles written by our clients and showcased in Spotlight (our client magazine) as we learn a little more about what matters to them and the things they care about. Their stories. (By the way – if Jemima has been in contact with you asking you to contribute to our next edition, I would encourage you to share ‘your story’ … each one of us has our own and they are all unique and precious).
As for the Titanic exhibition – it’s running until 20th March 2022 and is well worth a visit.
You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on our blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to us about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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