Monday, 9 September 2019

Sheer Escapism




Fully autumn soon, the nights are drawing in, there’s a chill in the air and the leaves of the Japanese ornamental cherry show just the faintest tinge of burgundy. Millie is still with me, she seems to be having a reprieve in her general health - not the arthritis, alas - and I have decided to shut the back door at night. It keeps the warmth in and she has a more comfortable time of it in the scullery. If I have to clean up after her, so be it. It won’t be forever. And it doesn’t happen every night either.

The hedge cutters are here, another sign of autumn. Raindrops are dripping on them but they are hardy young men; “it’s only water”  said the one I took round the perimeter of the garden to give instructions on what needed trimming. True, but I myself still sheltered under a big umbrella. And I needed his arm to help me over a very steep slippery grassy bit without falling over. He promptly fell over himself, should have asked me for my arm in return.


There is so little that is pleasant in this world at the moment that I am seriously keen not to add to the misery for myself. Yes, I am still obsessed with current affairs, yes, I still shout curses at politicians whenever they appear on TV spouting barefaced lies, yes, I still dread what is happening to our climate and the environment. What to do? Withdraw from the whole unholy mess of it? Could be. Escape at least occasionally. Evenings start earlier, earlier evenings require indoor activities rather than balmy nights spent outdoors. Reading, TV and maybe closer attention to this blog of mine again, after several years of neglect.

Which brings me to another question: are you old enough to indulge in bad taste books, films, TV shows without embarrassment? To my surprise quite a few of the ‘ladies who lunch’ admit to doing so. Well, in that case, so do I. Not exclusively, of course. I couldn’t possibly live on a diet of sweets and chocolates, burgers and ready meals, neither can I feed my brain exclusively on pap. However, a Georgette Heyer Regency romance, a cosy mystery from the 'Golden Era', a Mary Stewart adventure, a Robin Hobb fantasy, even a Scandi noir thriller insinuate themselves on to my Kindle now and then. (I am too embarrassed to put hard copies on bookshelves). All of the foregoing have one thing in common, they all end happily-ever-after. As for TV, well, the ladies admit to switching on certain channels which run endless repeats of British and American sitcoms, British country village thrillers and long running soaps. I have to be very tired before I give ‘Midsomer Murders' another go - it’s too much like painting-by-numbers - but it’s been known to fill the odd otherwise sadly depressing space. Morse, Endeavour and Shetland are more to my taste. I can take Agatha Christie's Miss Marple or Poirot as well, if needed. I am not so good on films, but a romcom would hit the spot nicely too.

So, there you have it, Friko’s image as culturally high-brow is shattered. I always knew it and now that escapism has become ever more urgent I am old enough to blow a raspberry at anyone who feels judgement coming on. Not you, obviously.

For those who like natural history and the science of it here’s a recommendation which is neither pap nor instant escapism: Peter Wohlleben’s ’The Hidden Life of Trees’, an informative study and fascinating look into the enchantment of trees that can talk and sometimes walk - no it’s not a fairy tale. You’ll gain a whole new perspective on the amazing processes of life, death and regeneration of woodlands. The better sort of escapism.






25 comments:

  1. Every night I read something on my Kindle before I fall asleep. I've read most of my life before sleeping. We do not have cable TV but use Roku and have access to BritBox with Endeavor, Vera, and Shetland...all of which I enjoy...not the least of which is the Shetland opening theme song which I love. I'm intrigued and will look into the Hidden Life of Trees. Several years ago I read about the Japanese practice of "Forest Bathing." It's been proven to lower blood pressure and boost the immune system. Prior to being unable to walk the way I used to, I was always outdoors hiking or simply traipsing through the woods. I do enjoy your posts and have missed you.

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  2. Very glad to see you back; you mirror many of my thoughts. Endeavour is a wonderful drama series and I also love Escape to the Country although I wouldn’t dream of doing so! Took me years to escape from it!

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  3. When I went for interview at St. Hildas the don asked me if I read low brow historical novels...I said - aged 18 - yes, at the same time that I want a bar of chocolate and a soft chair.
    Same thing applies today...
    Yhat poor young man who fell..indeed, no good deed goes unpunished.
    Very glad that Millie is feelingbetter and that the back door is shut. I remember reading of the nuns of Fontevraud who, when dying, were taken down to a sort of crpyt where they were laid on a bed of ashes. I always thought it a very unchristian way to let someone die...

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  4. Shetland was a very good show. -gorgeous exterior shots of that part of Scotland as well.
    I have indulged in 'comfort TV' now and again. For me, it's the TV that I grew up with that I enjoy most. Series like MASH or Cheers I could watch again and again. I do like the work of Richard Curtis, too. That's not very high-brow, is it?

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  5. I watch Star Trek for escapism. I try to avoid anything too much, too tawdry, too violent, because it makes my heart hurt.

    Glad you didn't fall and I hope he wasn't hurt.

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  6. Thanks for the reminder. I have been meaning to track down The Hidden Life of Trees for yonks.
    And will freely admit to 'comfort reading'. Some of the authors you mention have a place on my shelves as well.

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  7. Phew. I did read an article on tree life which stunned me. And I admit to binge-ing The Good Wife and Friends amongst more elite pursuits. We all need brain rest. I know I do. Mindless mush suits me from time to time.

    And I stand proud along with you.

    XO
    WWW

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  8. Oh Friko you are so cute to admit to some not elite tastes. Maybe I will fess up in a future post on my blog. I am glad to hear Millie is still up and about, and you take such tender care of her. Our dogs give us so much, they deserve a good old age.

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  9. Loved The Hidden Life of Trees - and since you did, too, I take that as a sure sign you're not turning into a degenerate. Carry on :)

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  10. I love British TV and my favorites are the ones that make me cry (Call the Midwife). Except for one or two programs, I seldom watch American TV. My guilty pleasure is Grace and Frankie on Netflix. It can (is) sometimes crude and shocking but it makes me laugh so hard. The fact that the stars are older than me (Jane FondA and Lily Tomlinson) adds to my enjoyment.

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  11. This post could describe my progression in reading with the exception that I added a hefty diet of happily-ever-after to my reading menu much earlier than you have. Going to add the tree book to my list.

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  12. Over 60 we are blessedly liberated from caring about the opinion of anyone but ourselves. And we become fascinated, if smart, with what you describe as: "perspective on the amazing processes of life, death and regeneration "

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  13. The only television we watch (other than local/national news) is British. Shetland is our favourite and I hope there will be a new season soon. I am now reading the series, have finished two of them, and will be ordering many more from the library. Low brow, high brow -there's a time for everything. Escapism is not a bad thing from time to time.

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  14. I haven't watched TV in years and like it that way. But I am an avid reader … of my old books from AnodazuMal … schleppt quite a few across the Big Pond to Canada and cherish them cuz they are like trusted friends. The oldest ones are my Grimm's Maerchen and my Lesebuecher from High School. Hi brow, lo brow, I don't really care. What I care about is the feeling of safety and warmth and the memories that come flooding back with each book and/or certain passages. Love, cat.

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  15. I agree. One's eyebrows do lower as one ages. I inadvertently see some terribly awful tv shows, but they interest me.

    You shouldn't have touched up the hedgecutter when he was helping you and he wouldn't have fallen.

    I don't envy your tv news at the moment with no doubt endless Boris and Brexit stories.

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  16. Your writing is delightful. Glad your fur baby is still going. I enjoy British TV and also older American sit coms. I don't like the shoot em ups my husband prefers; too much violence already in the world. The Hidden Life of Trees sounds fascinating.

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  17. I'm a total mystery and Brit TV nut -- I'm on season 17 of Midsomer and plugging through. (My goodness, what a crime-laden area! Almost as bad as St. Mary Mead!)Acorn, Netflix. Britbox are my friends. (Oh, yes, the Phyrnne Fisher mysteries -- the originals set in the 20s or 30s!) And yes, I love Aggies as well as more contemporary mysteries (Louise Penny's newest is on the way!) and I'm working my way through the Maigret books which are short and a good break between, say a 500 page bio of Queen Victoria. Not big on romance novels (ala Cartland/Heyer) but a good love story pops up on the lists, too. Have you read any of the classic British Library crime mysteries? They're great fun!

    Best news in this? Miss Millie. I'm glad you are grabbing every day and keeping her in at night too. And also glad you didn't fall outside.

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  18. Hi Friko - so pleased Millie is still here with you ... and that in general you're coping with that side of life, while enjoying her company. I have to say the tv programmes aren't up to much at the moment ... though I watch the occasional one. I enjoyed Killing Eve - quite 'dystopian' - but amused me ... I'm now enjoying the Georgette Heyer style 'Sanditon' on ITV on Sundays ... in the old days I enjoyed the Angelique books ... and Cadfael mysteries, as well as G K Chesterton - but a good informative book I thoroughly enjoy.

    Love the photo of the border ... gorgeous - and all the best as the winter draw in - very glad you didn't fall over ... cheers Hilary

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  19. Well, I'm mostly a mystery reader; sometimes history. But imho it you're reading, it's probably not in bad taste. If you're watching TV it probably IS in bad taste.

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  20. I think when the news is bad people want to escape a bit more into light reading and treats. I often think that dystopian fiction is a sign of a secure society. What a lovely photo of the border! And is that a fuschia? I like those flowers more and more.

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  21. Oh yes, I turn on those TV channels, though sometimes re-viewing something I remembered fondly doesn't always live up to the expectations. However, Waiting for God still raises a smile (indeed more so, the closer I get to the possibility of that sort of existence when my years finally start to decline). And there has been some fun in discovering things I missed when they were first broadcast.

    As for reading, well, yes, the odd conventional mystery story (particularly if set in historical times - these days it's hard to think of a period that hasn't been chosen as the setting for some foul murder story), and for me, history books. The passing froth of day-to-day politics I view from inside my bubble and through the lens of my chosen newspaper, which is quite enough for me, thank you very much.

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  22. I like my entertainment to be fiction as, as I tell people, I'm living reality. don't really watch TV much even tho the husband has it on from the minute he gets up to the minute he goes to bed. he doesn't even watch it, it's just on, his white noise, though I do admit to watching a soap opera in the afternoon.

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  23. Never having been highbrow, letting standards get much lower would probably have left me reading take away menus. Second hand whodunnits always come home with me, whatever condition they're in and I've found lots of 'treasures' this way.
    Netflix is a godsend too … the childrens section has an excellent range of mildly science fiction afternoon television.

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  24. Friko, I am having a difficult time posting a comment on your blog. I am going to try to fix that.
    Lately I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube on my devices. I also like playing Words with Friends. I don’t really like TV .

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  25. As a child, I used to hear that this or that person's taste was "all in her mouth." I didn't know exactly what it meant, but I knew it wasn't good, and I knew I didn't want to grow up to be that person. Today? Good taste and bad taste are more understandable to me, and one thing I understand is that those categories are some people's way of proclaiming they're better than the neighbors. Given a choice between a bluegrass jam and a night at the opera, I'll take the bluegrass every time. So be it. Not only do I enjoy the bluegrass more, sometimes I get the chance to sit in. No one's ever asked me to sit in with the orchestra, and of course they shouldn't. But I enjoy participating more than watching, which explains a lot about my life.

    I threw out the televisions in 2011, and haven't suffered one bit. If something comes along that seems worth watching, I can pull it up on the computer and try it out. Most of the time, I'd rather be out with my camera, or writing. Those are ways of escaping the societal clamor, too, but they please me. I refuse to get dragged into the continual sniping, complaining, and flat-out conflict that so many seem dedicated to these days. Being concerned about issues is one thing. Being consumed by fruitless back-and-forths on social media is something else, and being virtuous is more important to me than virtue signaling. So there! I'm off to the woods!

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