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Lark Rise

March 27th, 2013 Posted by Susan's Musings 2 comments

Over the past few months, I’ve been watching a BBC series
called Lark Rise to Candleford.  I admit to being a sucker for the British
accents, the clothing and the setting, a pastoral part of northern England in
pre-World War I days.  Two of the
recurring characters are cousins; women who made different life choices. One,
the postmistress, is an outspoken spinster who holds a prominent and important
position for a woman of the time. Her cousin, equally outspoken, is a wife and
mother, with severe financial worries and no elegant dresses, but a loving
husband and family. One theme that repeats frequently is how each envies
aspects of the other’s life, while also relishing some of the perks of her own.

It is easy to smile condescendingly at the limited choices
of that historical period. But, while times have changed, the reality that we
can’t do and have everything, has not. (The popular and up-to-date show Parenthood, featured the angst of both a
high-powered attorney mom and her stay at home sister-in-law.) Increasing
numbers of college students are extending their years at school rather than
choosing a field and finishing their requirements. Certainly, a poor job market
gives little incentive to rush into the work world, but I think there is more
at play here. Earning a decent salary in a respectable position used to be a
main goal for college graduates. That no longer seems to be enough. We want
ever so much more. We expect fulfilling work in a field for which we have a
passion, high wages and good benefits so that we can live more than comfortably,
and work hours that recognize the importance of our personal lives. Nice job if
you can get it. It is no wonder that committing to a field of study is
difficult.

BBC shows need to attract viewers. One way they do so is by
cloaking the vital issues of our lives –among them the desire for love and
family and the wish for meaningful work and public recognition of that work –in
non-threatening historical milieus. If you read the true book on which the
series was based, life was harsh for both the postmistress and the mother. I
doubt that any of us would want to trade places with either of them. Above all,
shows like this serve as a reminder of how blessed is the world in which we
live, even if we still cannot fulfill all of our conflicting desires.

2 comments

James says:

Perhaps a server thrashed or stuttered. But for some reason I received no Thought Tools this week. But still I managed to penetrate the veil.
You are so right. The state of our challenged free enterprise system and the gasping economy it produces are limiting prospects, possibilities and outcomes. It is perilously seductive to succumb to nostalgia. Tolkien’s Middle-earth, long ago “when there was less noise and more green,” has become a haven for many since the 1960’s. These books can address in a positive way man’s longing for nature and a simpler life with rich underlying spiritual values.
Some take it a step further. There exists a Society for Creative Anachronism. Each year at a grand banquet a ruling party is elected. And the attendees role-play nobility, knights and fine ladies. Once I wanted to ask, with all due respect, if these be the Middle Ages in truth, where are your grasping abbots, your corrupt priesthood, your starving serfs and itinerant lepers? The wishful subscribers to reincarnation are similar: there are plenty of former kings and queens of Ancient Egypt, knights and fine ladies, but the vast and overwhelming majority of unfortunate peasants are few and forgotten.
A medieval potentate would give his crown for luxuries of today’s lowliest citizen, such as running water and a hot tub. The least little infection then would level thousands, tens of thousands, infections we can now cure with tetracycline or analogs of penicillin. The great composer Tchaikovsky could have been saved with four dollars worth of tetracycline. Yes, for all our uncertainty we are lucky to live in our modern world.

Julia Pomeroy says:

I am so thrilled that you enjoy Lark Rise to Candleford, may I recommend Cranford to you, this is based on a book written by Mrs Elizabeth Gaskin who only slightly disguised the town she was writing about. It is called Knutsford (the ‘K’ is silent) in Cheshire which is north west England. I have lived in Knutsford and my son works there. Anyway back to the series, it is very true to the social mores of the time – which I think is about 1810 or so. Do see if you can get hold of a DVD of this series it really is wonderful – just imagine – no sex, no violence just real people of the period and their relationships which are patterned by their circumstances.

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