Thursday 22 January 2015

A lot to be grateful for

So glad people are telling me they read my blog. I'm equally pleased we are planning another evening of readings - from our own writing - two writers' groups sharing their work. It gives us a chance to get used to performing in front of others. Modern writing and new writers performing quietly, away from the small screen, amidst current re-enactments on television : old events and seasoned campaigners. Cromwell in Wolf Hall to Churchill to Eichmann.

We live in interesting times and I feel there is much to be grateful for. Our country is at peace, we have no burning at the stake nor public executions. No Wolf Hall.  My friends and I live comfortably, with freedom of choice, in warm houses and with plenty to eat, while the temperatures drop outside. Perhaps we owe our freedom and comfort partly to the leadership of a man who fought for Great Britain many years before I was born. Sir Winston Churchill.

It is fifty years since I saw his waterborne coffin being carried on the Thames - through the medium of television. I was a child and knew who Churchill was, of course, but it is the commentary - the phrase ' his final journey' which has remained with me. What did these words really mean? Had he planned his final journey, had he travelled this way before?

It was a spectacle for television - all the more meaningful,  I would say, its being filmed in monochrome against a grey winter sky. A sombre spectacle.

Another sombre spectacle is the filming of the Eichmann trial. Another 'leader' or at least a deputy leader who commanded so much power millions died.

Now to current events. Prince Andrew - who was born slightly after me - is defending himself  by speaking to people of his innocence in front of millions, again through the medium of television. Leon Brittan has died and one newspaper says he will be hunted beyond the grave. Both Prince Andrew and Leon Brittan have denied any wrong-doing. I, for one, am glad I am not in the public eye. I like my privacy and I cannot believe I would enjoy TV cameras being pointed at me. Then I see Emma Healey for the Costa First Novel Award being interviewed by Nick Higham. She's written a book about Alzheimers. She's known now. Her life will never be the same again.

The TV is prominent in our lives and it's so easy to switch between vastly different worlds. We move from those who fought against evil to those who perpetrated it within seconds, using the remote control, (or the press of a virtual button on the ipad). If we don't like what we see we can forget it. Unless of course we are the one at the centre of the storm. The one with the cameras on us. Which brings me back to performance evenings.

Some of us are naturals at reading out our work to an audience. It can be quite scary even to someone like me who taught schoolchildren for 32 years - an 'unappreciative audience' ? But reading aloud to others is nothing truly frightening in the scheme of things - we have a lot to be grateful for in an uncertain world. We are not fighting for our lives or scraping money together to live in an overcrowded flat. Today, hours before I watched extracts about Churchill and Eichmann,  I read about a father and son who died in Syria, not from bullets but from the sheer cold.

It's good to reflect that we have a lot to be grateful for.