Over the years, and especially in the last two, holing up on the sofa and watching TV has always been how I’ve taken refuge from the world.
Of late, I’m actually frightened to turn the damn thing on as pretty much everything seems to bring out some kind of negative emotion in me.
This afternoon I got lucky though.
After coming home for a long walk in one of our beautiful parks on the first of hopefully many Indian summer days, I sat down with a mug of tea and just caught the beginning of David Lean’s 1954 comedy film, ‘Hobson’s Choice’.
It’s the kind of thing I would have watched with my mum on a Sunday afternoon after our roast lunch back in the day. One of those ancient, crackly, black and white jobbies that we’d sit through time and time again, enjoying it’s old fashioned values and predictable endings, laughing occasionally and listening to my parents remark on how times had changed.
Essentially it’s the story of a drunken, selfish tyrannical old bootmaker Henry Horatio Hobson, his three daughters Maggie, Alice and Vicky, and poor old Will Mossop, Hobson’s uneducated, unappreciated, browbeaten employee. The girls are essentially his unpaid staff and want to get married to escape him but whilst he’s willing to let two of them go, he wants to hold onto the eldest and most savvy, Maggie, dismissing her as an old maid at 30. Maggie taking great exception to this, persuades innocent Will to marry her, steals him away and goes into business with him, and essentially drives the old man out of business. Will thrives under Maggie’s tutelage, and at great surprise to both of them, they fall in love. It ends with Will going into partnership with old Hobson, providing he takes a back seat and that they rename it ‘Mossop & Hobson’, giving Henry (and a protesting Maggie) ‘Hobson’s Choice’, aka none at all, and they both acquiesce, Maggie finally letting Will wear the trousers.
Cheesy right? But in that couple of hours, I felt warm and safe inside.
An hour later when the news of yet another US journalist being murdered by the heinous Jihadi John, I shuddered, shrank back into the cushions, felt unshed tears stirring inside and wished to be anywhere any time other than here in 2014.
So much has changed over the last 60 years that the world we live in now is virtually unrecognisable, and whilst I would concur that we have achieved a lot (by way of medical, technological and cultural advancement), we have also in some cases, taken things too far, and/or completely in the wrong direction.
We have so much and yet so little.
More money, less time.
More access to information but more corruption.
More stuff but a devastated, polluted planet.
More food, but more chronic obesity, starving millions and exploited peoples around the world.
More freedom of choice, but too much to choose from.
More freedom of movement but at the cost of the family unit.
And I wonder if the bogey man that has been hovering at my shoulder (just out of sight, natch) and cavorting gleefully through my dreams all these years might finally be showing his fuck ugly face.
As I am dancing on a knife’s edge of financial disaster and have to move so will be losing my home, security and my promised 4 years schema therapy which I’ll only get if I stay in this area of London. And I can’t.
But it’s not just about my personal stuff, as death, ugliness, cruelty and disaster in so many forms seems to be swirling all around us all in 2014.
And I’m afraid. For everyone.
And right now I’d do anything to go back to a world where you at least had a fighting chance.
Wars were fought fairly. Or so it seemed in the movies anyway.
There was a patriotic sense of community.
People looked at each other in the street and not at their iPhone.
TV was innocently entertaining, and not dominated by reality TV where people are pitted against one another, humiliated and pushed to the point of breakdown.
Bullying consisted of being pushed over in the playground, and not being pressured to kill yourself over social media.
There were Stars as opposed to celebrities.
Reporters knew their place, and that was to report the news and not stalk innocent people, root through their bins and try and take photos of young female’s vaginas.
No one felt guilty about ageing. It was what happened.
No one felt guilty about being pleasantly plump, hence no one ended up so big they had to be removed from their bedroom via a crane and airlifted to hospital.
Sex was precious and intimate instead of the combination of an aerobic exercise class, a beauty contest and a mutual genital sneeze.
No one would dream of sharing their sex life with anyone other than their wife/husband, let along make a sex tape.
And no one would ever, EVER want to watch a video of some fanatical, cowardly, sadistic bastard decapitate an innocent, handcuffed, helpless journalist with a crude, rusty knife.
For the record, I’m not naive. I reiterate I know some things have changed for the better. But right now I’d love to live in a world were you could trust the person sat next to you on the bus not to blow you to smithereens, you could love your curves and wrinkles, families looked out for one another, and the food you put in your mouth was made a few days ago, and wasn’t filled with stuff you couldn’t even pronounce.
A world where you were told that there was someone for everyone, and people worked at their marriages instead of upgrading and trading in their partner every 5 years or so as if she/he were a car.
A long long time ago lived a little girl who believed all that. It didn’t last of course, she’s a cynical old cow nowadays. But today just for a moment she longed for her very own kind, dim, loyal Will Mossop who would partner up with her, look after her, work along side her, and the morning after their wedding night, look into her eyes as if she were some kind of miracle, uttering the immortal line ‘By gum!’.
But it’s Hobson’s Choice isn’t it? In other words there’s no going back. Or as Maggie might say ‘All you can do dear, is keep your chin up, put your best foot forward and hope for the best’.
Fuck me. I never thought I’d be taking my inspiration from a fictional Northern spinster.
I must be getting old.
Please be careful out there x