Does a coral polyp give a fleeting thought to the giant reef on which it is rooted and which gave it life? The answer is, probably, no. In success it is confident and ruthless. Its concerns are to compete with its neighbours except where co-operation is to its own advantage, avoid its enemies, and reproduce its kind. Yet it owes everything to the millennia of effort which created the great mass of rock of which it is today’s flowering. 

The polyp does not see the reef, it does not feel it except as the point to which it clings; the reef makes no sound; it expresses no views. It is in fact dead, it’s being is in its presence alone, and in a thousand million years it may well still be there – uplifted to some mountain top or buried deep in some ocean floor – one of the greatest physical creations ever achieved by life on earth.


Jack – I deciphered letter by letter as I eased away the encrusting lichen of the gravestone – Sprat. 

Jack Sprat is my name. The gravestone was quite clear about it. “Sacred to the memory of two of the best of parents, Jack Sprat, died 1854 aged 92, and Mary Sprat, died 1849, aged 78.” 

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