Friday, 6 February 2009

Friday morning.

More blooming snow last night – already turning to slush, but lying on top of the remains of the previous lot of snow, which is now semi-freddo slush, so at every step you don’t know whether you will come down on firm pavement or on slimey sludgey skiddy stuff. I’ve moved up to using my hiking boots, which is as far along the scale of solidity and grip as I can go, and I am still worried by coming down the slope of Connaught Road.

Last night I was revising some writing, and then watching “The Victorian Farm” on BBC2. For anyone who hasn’t yet caught this lovely series, do! For anyone not in the UK, watch out for it in case a channel in your country buys it in from the Beeb. It’s fascinating.

There have been previous tele programmes based on the same idea of recreating historical living conditions. I remember “The 1940s House”, which was one of the first, here in Britain at least, as fascinating, though my mother was constantly fretting that you couldn’t really recreate the 1940s without the air raids… Some of them have skidded perilously close to the Big Brother model, offering schadenfreude with vaguely educational overtones, and I have shied away in horror the moment I detected this. I gave up on the series a year or two back that was set on a reconstructed Jacobean farm after half an episode because it seemed to be primarily an exercise in watching other folks get cold and wet and miserable. But I gave this new series a try, and was hooked, instantly. I’m rather regretting not having stuck with the Jacobean version, now, because that was presented by the same people.

I think part of the charm is the fact that I can relate so clearly to what they are doing. A lot of my nineteenth century forebears on my mother’s side were farmers and farm labourers; I’ve seen pictures of them and have visited the places where they lived (Eyke in Suffolk, Highworth in Wiltshire) and I can imagine them using this equipment, experiencing these changes and innovations, and so forth. A lot of the skills that are shown have been passed down in my family, particularly those classified as “women’s work”. Alan is always saying I’m the last Victorian, and this feels like proof!

The three historians living on the farm are a nice bunch, intelligent and articulate and willing to muck in – quite literally a lot of the time – and not whinging, even when confronted by the bizarre or the maggot-ridden, or by simple bloody hard work. I’d like to meet them; they seem like people one would enjoy being friends with, and I do rather envy them the experience, bloody hard work and all.

Alright, okay, I’ll confess - there is one further reason to watch. One of the presenters, a dark-eyed fellow by the name of Peter Ginn, is one of the most attractive men on television at present; he could brew me a ginger beer any day… In the most recent episode he just happened to take off his hat for the first time, revealing a mass of tumbling black Byronic curls and completing my downfall. I am now officially a fan. >sigh<>

I think they were filming last summer. It pours with rain a lot of the time and most of the last episode was about the failure of the hay harvest; in fact the fact that PG has only just taken his hat off, in midsummer, is indicative too, now I think of it. Please, you weather gods, send us a decent summer this year!

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