OK, I’ll admit that I am not terribly au fait with the details of the Book of Revelations, I studied the slightly more sane ramblings of St Luke for my RS O level. Still, many people struggle with their second novel so perhaps we shouldn’t judge St John too harshly.
No, it is in the fantasy works inspired by the mythology of northern Europe that the coming of endless winter is associated with the rise of the forces of darkness and the start of evil’s dominion over the earth. For evil to be linked to fire and brimstone, I think we have to look to our more tectonically interesting Graeco-Roman heritage.
I was reminded of this recently while wandering around the Vikings! exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland. This includes several figurines of the goddess Freyja, usually identified by her necklace known as Brisingamen. Until recently, I had only associated this with its weirdstone and the book by Alan Garner – and as a result, I am starting to think that what we are currently experiencing is the fimbulwinter. As any followers of Norse mythology will know, this precedes Ragnarök and the end of the world. So, I’m changing my name to Lif and moving to the Hoddmímis holt (there’s a reference for the scholars of the Poetic Edda among you!).
Still, the exhibition was quite interesting and I enjoyed half-price entry thanks to the Art Fund. Actually, in this case, I fear my attempts to support the Arts may have somewhat back-fired. As well as half-price entry, I was given vouchers for discounts on a number of activities – including dinner in the Tower Restaurant which sits above the NMS and offers wonderful views of the castle from your table as well as very decent eating. Well, normally it offers wonderful views: when I took up the offer, the views came and went as the castle was intermittent obscured by the passing blizzard as late afternoon slid into night. It certainly made for very atmospheric dining! Bad weather can be a splendid thing if one is observing from the warm with good food and drink in front of you; less so on the subsequent walk to the Queen’s Hall to see the Brodsky Quartet. Anyway, to return to my guilt: my 20% voucher discount represented more than twice the amount I’d paid to enter the exhibition, so I’m not sure how much more of my “generosity” the Arts can take.
There have been other portents that might presage the end of the world. As a single example, last weekend the Circle line was actually running. The dead rising from their graves would be positively mundane by comparison. I’m not sure that St John specifically mentions the Circle line as one of the signs of the apocalypse, but he was writing nearly two thousand years ago, so he may have missed a few tricks (he barely mentions Twitter or kiwi fruit, for example). Nevertheless, I think we should all prepare for the worst…