Monday, April 16, 2012

The One

When I was 12 years old or so I first played the WW2 naval wargame Bismarck, and learned about Scapa Flow, an odd patch of water in northern Scotland where the British fleet was based during the World Wars.

A couple of months ago I started reading Castles of Steel, about the the naval war in WW1. Castles spends careful time on what I call management issues, including the British decision to base the Grand Fleet in the north to directly confront the Germans, rather than keeping it at Portsmouth on England's southern coast. I had a look at Scapa Flow on Google Earth to get a sense of the place, tried to imagine maintaining and protecting fabulously complicated and expensive ships in such a desolate wash.

My wife & I were having drinks on the porch this weekend, and I was percolating on Scapa. I tend to tell her bits of stuff I read that I think she'll find interesting (or not) and figured I should give a bit of intro before just jumping into this obscure topic. I get about a dozen words out and she says, "Oh, you mean Scapa Flow; go ahead." So I ask how in the world would she know about such an obscure place? Why, because before we were married, she was doing marine archaeology doctoral work at the University of St. Andrews (Chariots of Fire) in Scotland, where Scapa is known as a great place for diving on wrecks. In fact, over one holiday her friends went to Scapa, while she opted for a warmer Mediterranean break at Rhodes.

And I'm thinking maybe 1% of Americans have ever heard of Scapa Flow. And of that 1%, 99% must be men with an interest in military history. So my wife would be 1% of 1%.

Just goes to show what very careful job God did of picking her for me.