Major Summerford

Today, it being a Sunday, I was – as I am prone to do on Sunday mornings – pondering the nature of fate, when the old adage “lightning never strikes in the same place twice” suddenly struck me.

As a blueprint for personal development and survival it is, perhaps, not the wisest piece of encouragement or advice to proffer to somebody who is about to set off for a Sunday walk in the park wearing a pair of steel soled industrial boots. After all, it is palpably and provably untrue, because lightning can and often does strike more than once in the same place.

But, as is –  sort of –  proved by the strange case of the unfortunate Major Summerford, lightning can also be a persistent stalker.

According to popular tradition (and it must be said that hard facts about this peculiar case are hard to come by) Major Summerford was a British cavalry officer during the First World War (1914-1918).

By 1918 he was, no doubt, counting his blessings to have survived the carnage thus far and the last thing he probably had on his mind, as he galloped back and forth across the fields of Flanders, was anything to do with electrical storms.

But, high in the heavens, the force that was to make him its constant target in the years ahead was lining him up in its sights and, one day, as he rode his horse across the battlefield, they were hit by a bolt of lightning which killed the horse and temporarily paralysed the major from the waist down.

Invalided out of the army, Major Summerford retired to Vancouver in Canada where he became a keen fisherman.

One day in 1924, as he sat fishing on the banks of his local river, an old adversary began stirring in the sky above him and a bolt of lightning struck the tree beneath which he was sitting with the result that he then found himself paralysed down his right (some accounts say left) side.

Two years later, however, the plucky Summerford had managed to recover sufficiently that he was able to take gentle strolls in his local park.

But then, one day in 1930, he was enjoying his daily walk, when he heard a faint rumble of thunder in the sky above and, yes you’ve guessed it, a bolt of lightning came hurtling towards him, struck him, and permanently paralysed him.

The unfortunate Summerford died in 1932, much mourned by all who knew him, and a fine funeral service was held in his honour, after which he was laid to rest in a peaceful corner of the local cemetery.

Four years later, however, his old adversary caught up with him one last time when, during a severe thunderstorm, a bolt of lightning smashed into his tombstone causing it to shatter into hundreds of pieces.

Anyway, must rush, it being a Sunday I’m off for a walk in the local par…………..