It was a weary evening last night. I don’t just mean I was weary (which I was) but the evening itself took on a weary quality that lent itself to a lack of activity other than the essential (breathing and a bottomless mug of black tea came to mind). We had returned from half term at the Mill. It’s a 7 hour drive (including brunch stop and the opportunity to have our dogs bark uncontrollably at David Cameron, fortunately to the amusement of the police detachment) and once the car was unpacked, the washing on and the list of things left behind compiled nobody was much in the mood to do anything.
After the predictable but excellent takeaway supper from Jalsa (the chicken Makhoni and Chicken Chom Chom are musts, but the Lamb Dansak was a bit too hot for runner one) we settled down for a lazy evening of tv and twitter. Ah the cosy home life of the Smellies. The evening’s programming looked rather dull so I picked The Choir off the shelf. Not cheeky Gareth, but the 1995 production of Joanna Trollope’s excellent observation of life and politics in a cathedral close.
Unlike the first time around I am now a bit more knowledgeable about vestries, slypes, the secret life of choristers and what a Succentor is. Having been the Registrar at a choir school for quite a few years and tagged along whilst the runners were choristers at the same cathedral I have viewed proceedings from both sides of the fence.
Like any drama where you have even a teeny bit of knowledge of the subject matter the runners and I did have a few niggles (no chorister elect is going to have the main solo at a major service). But then the boss can’t watch medical dramas without a few choice corrections and we will pass quickly over the moment a character in a well-known drama went salmon fishing off a small pier and compounded his sin by using trout tackle. We feared the implosion would lead to our very own black hole on the sofa.
However, in the main it was as good almost twenty years on as it was on its first outing. It was good because the observations and the politics were so gripping. Not huge gut wrenching politics but little, cleverly constructed digs and alignments, the kind that pepper our every day lives.
After some very helpful, sometimes hard but very perceptive comments by Brian Keaney on Timesmudger I took a deep breath and began an edit, which became a redraft and quite a lot of re-writing. Without realising it I began to flesh out the petty politics and the more I did the more I began to enjoy myself. This time I was the puppeteer not the puppet and the temptation to take revenge was overwhelming at times. I managed to restrain myself but it made me much more aware of how life is all about politics Donne was quite right “no man is an island entire of itself”; alliances are made and broken; friendships wax and wane. We are shaped in part by those we rub along with, like pebbles on the beach. Perhaps we should be more mindful of how we rub because we are shaping the pebbles next to us.