Life is fickle, life is fraught, life is fatal . . .
In Her Majesty's Royal Navy, it was common practice for the captain, whose job it usually was to read the service for a burial at sea, to quote from the Book of Job, chapter 14:
"Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble.
"He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not."
Patriarchal tone aside, you can't get much more succinct and to the point than that. It certainly puts in place a few of those vainglorious buffoons who currently strut and preen on the world stage.
Life can also be fun and fancy-free. But not too much at the moment.
• Frank Greenall: Look to past to fix future
• Best of 2019: Frank Greenall: An avalanche of issues
• Best of 2019: Frank Greenall: Sad demise of cricket therapy
• Frank Greenall: Daring to do something different to solve gang problem…
Abroad, it's as if another medieval plague, complete with apocalyptic horsemen, has swept down like a wolf on the fold, cutting swathes through populations in the old and new world alike.
On a more local level, mercifully we've so far avoided that scale of loss, and may it continue.
But some must still ponder the remorseless vicissitudes of life.
Take the Thai Villa restaurant, a few doors up from the City Bridge in the Avenue.
The restaurant principals – I think I'm right in saying – left hearth and home to forge a new life in lands afar.
They are now proud proprietors of a restaurant in a premier position in the most amenable and user-friendly city in the country – a restaurant exuding good taste, attentive service and excellent cuisine. (Relax, I haven't been promised a free meal.)
But in the past few years, they must be asking themselves what they had done to deserve all they've had to endure.
First there was The Flood. June, 2015, say no more.
The restaurant was suddenly awash with knee-deep water, where a day previously contented patrons were wining and dining.
Massive dislocation, renovation, restoration, before – many thousands of dollars later - eventual re-opening.
All good. But next thing there's The Fire. Right next door, Thain's Building is going up in smoke and threatening to engulf all. (Were the first four letters of "Thain" a grim portent?) Thankfully that didn't happen but it nevertheless compromised the integrity of the adjoining premises to an extent requiring extensive engineers' reports and so forth.
Eventually all is resolved to local authorities' satisfaction and the Village's doors are open once more.
But hold those apocalyptic horses.
Next cab off the rank is Pestilence. The poor restaurateurs must be wondering what sins they've committed to deserve all this.
Before you know it, a virulent scourge has shut the doors on all eateries.
Who could blame the principals if they decided enough was enough, took the hint, and retraced their steps back to their homeland.
But somehow I think not.
I sense they'll be reasoning that apocalypse must surely by now be starting to run out of horses, and once this irruption is over they'll be back doing what they do best once more.
Speaking of which, it's heartening to see the restoration work on the Johnston & Co building just across the City Bridge intersection.
That, too, took a solid hit in the flood – and probably will again at some point.
Despite this, the current owners' evident commitment to the architectural and heritage value of the building deserves energetic applause.
The same can be said of other major renovations around the city.
It's testimony to those prepared to put money where mouths are, and – commendably, with both local and government assistance – help propel these civics treasures into the future.
In a sense, they will achieve a self-fulfilling prophecy.
These votes of confidence in the city's heritage will help secure a prosperous future heritage through financial dividends partially deriving from this restored, value-added civic architecture.
Whanganui's heritage is a pleasure to experience, but also a bread-winning brand.