What it is precisely that changes the flow of things is not always identifiable. Sometimes it’s an action. Other times it’s a reaction. And at other times it seems no more than the change of the weather. Whatever the cause it is assured that things will change one way or the other for reasons sometimes no more relatable than chance or fortune. Depending upon the consequence of change, the overall outcome may or may not be sustainable or pleasant. One presumes that the backdrop to change is the alteration of events.  It may on the other hand amount to something just as significant though no more visible than a change of mood. The governance of one’s internal rumination and one’s external behaviour, while inextricably entwined, is just as volatile and unpredictable as trying to control the weather.

The inevitability of change is normally something easily accepted – at least until it hurts. The unfortunate part of some change is that it is undesirable or unwanted. When that change is brought about by something as whimsical or as natural as aging, the challenge is no longer merely understanding the change but more importantly accommodating the change. It is a task made marginally easier by reflecting upon the scope of change one has already adapted in the past. The insinuating features of penetrating modification are seldom foreseeable. More often than not we merely comply with what has transpired. Change is by definition an historic observation.

There is nonetheless within the realm of change a constancy of performance possible. That steadfastness is most frequently exemplified not by obstinacy but by devotion to determination; specifically, the determination to chart the smoothest sail upon the open sea. There isn’t anyone of renown about whom I’ve read who has not had to endure hardship, penalty or misfortune of some degree. I say this as evidence only that mishap is not the domaine of anyone in particular but rather one that encompasses us all. Knowing that, it makes the case for optimism and positive conduct more agreeable and compelling. If, as Sherlock Holmes reportedly did, it is necessary to succumb to laudanum for momentary relieve, so be it.

Remaining malleable in the face of changeable fortunes is the real success. If we are able to afford ourselves a beneficial outcome from our daily encounters – whatever they may be – then we’ve accomplished an objective of worthiness. I cannot but remark that, as a formula for settlement of conflict, the motive of mutual beneficence is in my opinion tolerable by any measure. This serendipitous view of life is a far better consequence than relentless attachment to the past however glorified it may have been perceived. The fact is, the world doesn’t stop spinning; we’re mad to hang onto things slipping irretrievably from our grip. The object is not to obstruct change but to appease it. Certainly this implies a dilution of whatever erstwhile perfection may have been maintained; but it also enlarges the expression to new and discoverable horizons.


1754: “serendipity” coined by Horace Walpole, suggested by The Three Princes of Serendip, the title of a fairy tale in which the heroes ‘were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of’.

He had Strawberry Hill House built in Twickenham, south-west London, reviving the Gothic style some decades before his Victorian successors. His literary reputation rests on the first Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto (1764), and his Letters, which are of significant social and political interest. They have been published by Yale University Press in 48 volumes.

The rise of evangelicalism in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries saw in England a reaction in the high church movement which sought to emphasize the continuity between the established church and the pre-Reformation Catholic church. Architecture, in the form of the Gothic Revival, became one of the main weapons in the high church’s armoury. The Gothic Revival was also paralleled and supported by “medievalism”, which had its roots in antiquarian concerns with survivals and curiosities. As “industrialisation” progressed, a reaction against machine production and the appearance of factories also grew. Proponents of the picturesque such as Thomas Carlyle and Augustus Pugin took a critical view of industrial society and portrayed pre-industrial medieval society as a golden age. To Pugin, Gothic architecture was infused with the Christian values that had been supplanted by classicism and were being destroyed by industrialisation.