On Sunday I went to boot camp at the ungodly hour of 7am. WTF was I thinking? Yes, I know. However… the good thing about getting up early to exercise is that it’s over and done with before most people are tentatively poking their big toe out from under the doona; and one has the rest of the day to do important things. Like read the newspaper, have nanna naps and update their blogs. For example.
The thing I most like is that I still get to read the paper while eating breakfast and watching music videos on television, which is a throwback to my younger years – the music videos, not the paper! And last Sunday, it was even more exciting because the local Oz music video show, Video Hits, was hosting a 24 year retrospective. Sometimes the show comprises bands playing at local music festivals and I find that I don’t recognise (or even like) any of the music. But Sunday, I got to relive the likes of Sonia Dada “You don’t treat me no good no more” (one hit wonder anyone?), Oasis and Wet Wet Wet.
It was the latter that had me reminiscing last week, as the music video for their 1994 hit “Love Is All Around” features clips from Four Weddings and a Funeral, the movie that shot Hugh Grant to stardom. I’m embarrassed to confess to being a Wet Wet Wet fan back in the day and recall I had a bit of a thing for the lead singer – as a gal does when she’s in her teens and twenties. But it was the movie that sparked some memories for me.
In early 1995 I went to work and live as a volunteer in Mozambique, in south eastern Africa. My time there was difficult for a myriad of reasons, not the least being that I was alone and half-way across the world. I made some great friends though and they helped me get through the 16-18 months I spent there. Once settled in I frivolously purchased a television video player combo which frankly that helped save my sanity because the nights were long and lonely (and there’s only so much Castle lager one can consume!) and television-viewing options only included a very scary local station (which every couple of weeks played an English-speaking movie); an Angolan station; a Portuguese station featuring nonsensical game shows (I recall one where women had to lie under a sheet with their feet poking out and a man had to pick those of his wife/partner); a French channel; and CNN. But for about 20 cents I was able to rent pirated videos of dubious quality. It didn’t matter. To me they were heaven.
While visiting South Africa however, I procured two videos and they became my coping mechanisms. Those two romantic comedies, Four Weddings and a Funeral and Sleepless in Seattle became my lifelines. I was like a child capable of watching Toy Story or Dora the Explorer again and again. And I did. Not quite weekly, but almost that regularly…. And from the moment I inserted the video, I felt comforted – wrapped up in a cocoon of familiarity and momentarily at peace. It got to the point that I knew the lines almost by heart, but it didn’t matter. They filled me with contentment, but also with hope that I too one day would exist in a world of Hugh Grants or Tom Hanks’. One day a man would become as besotted with me as Hugh was with Andie; and fate would conspire to introduce me to my soul mate as was the case with Meg and Tom.
Over the intervening 15 or so years I have added to my collection of security blankets. The BBC’s Pride and Prejudice held first place for a while. I owned the video but bought the DVD as soon as it was out, because it allowed me to watch the dozen or so scenes I loved so much more efficiently. Then there was Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series which I discovered when again living overseas. I was a latecomer to Buffy so was able to buy and watch four seasons over a period of weeks. And over ensuing years I have pulled them out to watch my favourite episodes again and again.
More recently (and quite inexplicably) the movie The Jane Austen Bookclub has become a source of comfort. I haven’t watched it for a while, but can. Again and again. I adore Maria Bello’s Jocelyn and like to think of myself as being similar. Though significantly less good looking of course. And not as wealthy. Oh, and without the dogs. But other than that…. parallel lives!
And most recently there’s North and South. If I’m completely honest it could be the presence of (the subject of my affection) Richard Armitage that makes it so rewatchable – akin to Colin Firth’s Mr Darcy, but that aside I can contentedly watch it again and again. (But of course I won’t admit that for fear of sounding pathetic!)
I don’t quite know what it is about these films and television shows and the comfort they offer: the familiarity of the characters I’ve grown to love (or lust after); or the happy endings and sense of hope? I’m not really sure, but I know I’m now much less scathing of a toddler’s ability to watch Finding Nemo hour after hour, day after day in a looping cycle.
Nevertheless, finding comfort is hard so I’ll take whatever I can get!