BBC2 are running a series of retrospective biographies about the greats of the past. Yesterday it was Orson Welles with his incredibly measured oratory. Citizen Kane was one of his great successes. He was found dead at the age of 70 in front of his typewriter writing yet another script. I loved his presence and measured style.
Today was the turn of John Wayne AKA Marion Morrison with a laid-back manner and an incredibly American family orientated role model persona. On a sunny Sunday afternoon after lunch this is little short of a serious journey into nostalgia, the type of homesickness for better things, a return to a past period when things are better than they are now. If you take away the technology factor I think the community spirit was better decades ago when people regarded each other with respect, when people were polite, obeyed the rules AND we managed without mobile phones. There was what we called the ‘telephone’. You ‘waited for a call’. You ‘dialled’ somebody.
I love watching the way these people were interviewed. They were given time to respond, not being interrupted every five seconds like these smart arse know-it-all interviewers. They were allowed to develop a narrative, the interviewer following them in this story rather than interposing their own agenda.
I’m engaged in frequent correspondence with my groups that I have known over the years. For some reason, I wrote a piece in response to a ‘best wishes’ letter about my vote “if animals ruled the planet.
Elephants – family feeling
Ants – organisation and planning
Bees – fertilizing plants and team spirit
Swans – life loyalty to each other
Meerkats – observation
Dogs – unconditional love
Chameleons – the ultimate diplomats
This morning, Sunday, we had our first virtual Sunday morning service with our new priest. I had previously warned the person who I thought was the host to have a rehearsal. Their response was that they had tried it the day before and it seemed to be all right. However, that’s quite another thing from having a proper dress rehearsal moving through what is actually going to happen.
To say that it was a shambles was an understatement. There were 36 people on the call and the vicar, with his guitar, was in the garden of the vicarage preparing to lead the service. So far, so good, as was the introductory video and music. However, shortly after the start, along ran one of his children and pulled down the music stand and all papers with it. His wife came along and rescued them. The meeting then started with a prayer and a form of service. It was clear that there was little communication and understanding between the person who was operating the laptop computer and the vicar.
In addition, the material had not been prepared properly. A version of a prayer, and a version of the new Testament lesson, whose spoken form was different to the version of the material on screen. The host did not know how to move from one screen to another and had to be given instruction during the service. Also, the vicar asked for participation in the confession and at the same time someone had switched off everyone’s microphones; this could not be overwritten on an individual level. And again as another part of the service, someone had left their microphone on so we heard domestic noises.
The virtual congregation put up with it in their usual stoic fashion as one does but I felt the whole thing very disturbing and lacking in continuity. At the end just before the blessing, one of his children came and took one of the sheets of paper on which the blessing was written. That had to be rescued by his wife. He made a joke out of it but I felt the dignity of the whole occasion was compromised and especially for me, acutely sensitive to sound and context, the integrity was compromised.
I’m sure they’ll get it better next Sunday but why oh why do people forget the simple procedure of rehearsing. You would not perform a play without a dress rehearsal so why not do the same for a church service?