As my holiday draws to an end I feel compelled to reflect on it. I strongly suspect this is more to do with a late onset movie-inspired Jane Austen complex than anything else but, in any event, I shall reflect away.
It’s been a pretty amazing holiday considering it was a staycation. I’ve spent the best part of 10 days with 2 of my oldest friends. It has been many years since we were all together and yet we still managed to pick up where we left off like it was yesterday. It brought home that living somewhere so remote is a hard thing…it’s such a monumental journey to see anyone that it becomes restrictive and I’ve allowed myself to become complacent in only seeing them once or twice a year. I’d love to see them more and hopefully when I get back and move to Inverness that will happen.
We have baked and crafted, watched movies and giggled lots, but perhaps the most amazing thing we did was going to The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour. It was incredible and very humbling. Aside from the bewildering array of sets, props, effects, animals and artwork it was the little details that totally blew me away. The handprinted labels on every box in Olivanders…the contents of the jars in the potions classroom…the costumes…the mechanics…the utterly breathtaking scale model of Hogwarts. The attention to detail was simply mind-boggling. I left feeling a little dazed and it took the best part of 2 days to decide how I felt about it.
There was a mix there. I was a little depressed that nothing I could write would ever inspire that kind of dedication and massive human response. There was the inspiration that it was all a huge stroke of luck really. Rowling fought for a very long time to get Harry Potter published and it still may not have made it onto the big screen had it not been for a very junior reader picking it up from the non-important shelf, taking it home and then persuading her director that it really was worth filming. It could have languished there for months without being read or could never have been read at all. It could have been taken home by someone that didn’t enjoy it. It could have had the film rights bought out by another studio who then couldn’t be bothered to film it. The fact that such huge success is based on so pernicious a set of circumstances is both daunting and inspiring. The lesson I choose to learn from this is that persistence is the key. If I persist in writing, in putting my books out there, in doing what little marketing I can, then one day my words may be in the right place at the right time for this magical series of events to occur. I also felt an immense sense of pride in being British. From a British author to a British producer, with British actors at a British film set…Harry Potter was a shining and glowing example of all that I think is wonderful about this nation of ours. These are hard times, no-one can dispute that. Most are struggling with financial difficulties and I will freely admit that I think these are generations of youths that have totally lost their way, lost their sense of identity, lost their moral compass. It gave me hope that here was a startling reminder that actually there is something in us as a nation that’s worth believing in, that sometimes the hardest path is worth taking because it results in the best possible end product.
I also spent two days at a family reunion in Dorset. It was wonderful to see everyone again although I admit since becoming a hermit in the wilds of Scotland I have started to struggle with large noisy crowds and had to go find myself some quiet time in a tent in the orchard when it got a little too much. Again, I confess I felt a little down at times. I’ve learned the hard way that one should never plan one’s life to follow a certain path because sure as night follows day your plans will be utterly derailed by chance. I’m coming to accept that my assumption I’d be married with a brood of kids by now was wrong but there was still a small part of me that ached seeing all those young ‘uns running around, that real and palpable sense of love between the generations and couples of my sprawling family. It was very hard not to feel left out. That said, I sat there on Sunday morning with my breakfast watching as the kids all played around my feet and realised that as a family we have something incredibly special. My generation may have been the first to partake of these reunions but I can see them growing and evolving until one day those kids that were around my feet will be standing with me shoulder to shoulder as their little ones play around us. It was an extraordinary and very special feeling. This, right here in the shire, was a small pocket of the next generation that is not lost. For a moment I could envisage other such pockets all over the country and it was strangely comforting.
Lastly there was the diamond jubilee. I didn’t watch much of it because I was busy but I set up for and attended jubilee parties and managed to catch part of the concert on television. I just hope that people took away from it what I did…
Britain may be broken but it is still a great nation and very much worth fighting for. Persist, hope, pay attention to detail, love your families, spend time with your friends because, sometimes, to fix the nation about you, you have to fix the island that is within you.