47

Republic P-47 Thunderbolt

The number tells the whole of the tale, doesn’t it? No? Well, it’s a very simple story: today is my birthday, now I’m 47 years old. Nothing special, just a good excuse to have a bit more of fun about myself and some numbers.

Being who and what I am (the latter prevails, 99% of the time) I’m about to remember something good that happens February, 11th in the past. My choice is linked to the first science fiction program ever aired in the world, courtesy of BBC in 1938. Yes, that was 30 years before my own time and that broadcast was about an extract from Karel Capek’s “R.U.R” piece, mostly famous for being the first text ever with the word “robot” in it. Unfortunately, there are no videos available for this historical moment. It’s still a good thing to remember, a sort of ideal prelude of many good sci-fi programs BBC gave us thru the following decades.

What about 47? A number of different things come to mind, from the most famous assault rifle ever – the Avtomat Kalasnikov type 47 – and many other projects, from the Republic P-47 “Thunderbolt” to the nefarious Agent 47 from the “Hitman” games. Coming back to sci-fi it’s a number that pops up every now and then in the Star Trek projects, thanks to Joe Menosky, or  in a number of different projects from J.J. Abrams (again, Star Trek!).

chushingura-sawtooth-coats

When this number come up, my first thought is always about Japan, about the wonderful “47 Ronin” story. Believe it or not, it’s an historical event. I stumbled over an Italian-translated version of the “Chusingura“ in the ‘80s, it’s basically a drama based on the original story. It’s all about honor and revenge, about lives casted in steel and blood, about facts that once set in motion cannot be stopped or denied. It’s worth the reading and, please, forget that awful movie with Keanu Reeves.

Usually this story is concluded with the phrase “and all of them commit suicide”. Well, it’s not true. There was a survivor, a man who could be nicknamed the 47th Ronin of the story. He was Terasaka Kichiemon, who lived until the age of 87, many years after the revenge. He was pardoned by the shogun and buried with his former comrades.

Well, that’s enough for today. I still have to start that goddamn party!

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