Guiltless Pleasures

We were back at the pictures this week. Well, it’s cold, it’s dark and we are skint because payday seems to have been moved on about three weeks, so it was as good a place as any. We saw Darkest Hour (Not “The” Darkest Hour by the way. Some people can get quite upset if you get that wrong) It’s about Churchill and how he struggled to get  the government to realise that Hitler was going to have to be fought rather than reasoned with. Gary Oldman is as brilliant as everyone says he is and the prosthetics to age him are equally impressive. I’ve seen a few reviews that praise Oldman but also say that the film is quite cold and unengaging. I don’t know if it is my current frame of mind but I didn’t find it cold at all – I cried three times. I don’t think I understood how close we came to losing and early on as well – this was set in 1940 and Europe was disintegrating. To fight on was such a risk. What a time.

There is one scene that is getting a lot of attention. In the midst of the crisis, Churchill is advised by the King (who is very handsome but definitely has a teeny tiny Australian twang in there) to go to the people. So Churchill takes himself down to the Underground where he meets lots of salt of the earth Londoners – a tradesman, a mother and a baby, a black man and myriads of determined looking women. They all advise him to fight on – hurrah! This never happened and it is a set up to say that the people were 100% behind Churchill and it is quite naff. However, I think, sometimes naff is fine when it hits a spot. I have never seen Dirty Dancing but I know people who acknowledge that it will have taken a budgie ten minutes to write it but they still love the way the hero rescues the young girl from er… sitting in a corner. Because it’s about young love, and music and dancing and things people like. These kind of things are sometimes called guilty pleasures because they are not considered worthy or smart but they mean things to people and they are important.

I watched some late night review show once and some donk was on there saying how critics like him were important because they were the gateway to “important”culture for the masses and, without people like him, the great unwashed would just go off and watch Coronation Street and never read Freud. I think people should try stuff and sometimes they should push themselves a bit. I am reading a book by Tom Wright again at the moment and am finding it a bit/lot heavy. However, every now and then I get it and I’m learning stuff I think I needed to know. This does not mean that I will be replacing my 1940s Golden Age of Crime Fiction trashy paperbacks with every book in Tom Wright’s back catalogue. Because I like them. I’m not trying to impress anyone – I just like them.

In the Screwtape Letters CS Lewis talks about how Screwtape advises that people should be steered away from hobbies that they enjoy into things they think are impressive or worthy. Because (if I remember this properly) if people are doing something they genuinely like, they become less conscious of themselves, they lose themselves and don’t get caught up in trying to be something they are not. There’s a brilliant bit that says something like – You have no idea how many people have been steered away from useful debauchery by an in-depth love for County Cricket. (Don’t forget Screwtape is a bad ‘un and his recommendations are always the other way round) Please note the things that you like generally have to be fairly benign, I think you will struggle to justify going out on every full moon to do some killing just because you genuinely like it.

It starts by being loved as you are – because you are – loved as you are that is. On the rare occasions that I actually get that I am ok with God as I am – it is such a relief. Then, if I want to try a bit of Ibsen (can’t say I do –  but I might) I’m doing it because I am curious not because I want you to think better of me. I have no idea how I got to this ranting – oh yes Churchill on the Underground. Naff but good. I liked it.



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