This holiday I have been enjoying watching the white people Roots programme, Upstairs Downstairs. A night of telly with the boys brings up so much, I’m overwhelmed and you know if I feel like that I have to share. Watching with our children it reminds me of my own childhood. I had actual tears at the beautiful recreation of the iconic spaces that the previous characters worked in. There was a scene where the parlour maid of old recalled her time served. A light shone through the window on her time-worn hand placed on a dusty banister and changed back for a moment, it was beautifully done. Our youngest loved the décor and colours; our eldest loved the politics. He noted the Yorkshire lad was written as a drinker and troublemaker. This poor lad was faced with a choice of going down the mines or servitude in the big houses.
This made us think about our own home here in Yorkshire, surrounded by back to backs and the big old mill up the road now converted into luxury apartments (tastefully done actually).
Our house used to be the local Dentists residence. One of the first houses to have electricity with the Dentist chair being in the front room. Local people who could afford must have passed through our door. I love the clues to history that are doted around us everywhere. I look out of the old Dentist room window and to the left is a sign on the wall saying smokers corner. A tobacconist shop had been there in the past. It always makes me chuckle, as quite often the people from the café stand under it for a smoke. Wasn’t it strange seeing the cook in Upstairs Downstairs smoking and in the Kitchen?
The Art of Malik.
It’s strange seeing Art Malik reviving the role of brown manservant when needed. He was also playing a Greek in The Nativity, another time travel gift for the holidays but that’s another story, a great story whatever your beliefs. A story I could buy into as a child because I was part of it. I was not erased or missed out or forgotten. I loved that one of the wise men was a black man. I loved the endless discussion on the baby’s hair being like wool, which contrasted with the blue-eyed Jesus holding hands with Martin Luther King and Gandhi in the picture above my parent’s bed. Stories including us all wise or not are worth telling and certainly worth sharing. I’m half glad that Art Malik is still working. A little uncomfortable with the same roles after all these years. Still, man’s got to eat and as proved by the bedwetting adverts if he doesn’t do it someone else will.
I suppose the noble heart and wisdom thing makes up for the lack of brown man protagonist central story being told. Maybe I missed something, please let me know.
We watched Live Aid the story and eldest once again had observations that would shame the world. “Not very diverse set is it?” I replied it was not a very diverse time. Back in 1985 I recalled the telly not being allowed to be switched off all day but none of us really watching it cos the music was well…….. rock. Mum liked Tina Turner because of the getting away from Ike thing and we all loved Queen because although he was a ‘funny man’ (Jamaican term, nothing to do with jokes) he could entertain the crowd and sing.It’s really weird pointing out the lady sat next to Billy Connolly as the woman off Strictly (the clever Pamela Stephenson).
It was a different time, a different era and the world of music has changed. With even Black Eye Peas a previously Hippy Hip Hop outfit now churning out Hip Pop. Live Aid now? Might look a little different upfront but what does it look like behind the stage? Who is running camera one, directing the show and most importantly financing it? Come to think of it what about Comic relief? Man cannot live on Lenny alone. In comedy we have had the Goodness Gracious team, the BB Crew, the Real McCoy, the titles alone tell a story. Where we at now? Hello anyone home?
I watched a lovely programme about Corrie called the road to Coronation Street.
Again sharing the history of how an iconic programme came about. How something of importance has to be demanded, fought and won. Again like Upstairs Downstairs the space was also celebrated. It was wonderful watching a writer sharing their imagination with gifted stage and screen workers who were able to share and be the best at what they could do.
All in this together.
Most of these programmes have been revived or created at this time because of the success of the original time traveller Doctor Who. A great tool to observe the past and our potential for the future. Giving us well needed cautionary and inspiring tales just like Dickens.
As the good Doctor says, “quick we don’t have much time.”
I’m looking forward to 2011, collating the stories of our collective history. I’m looking forward to speaking with our elders who remain blessed with time.
Living memory, our most precious gift is running out