Just A Click AwayThursday, October 14, 2010
this blog I wrote:
For me the common thread in Dumas, Sabatini and others is lasting friendship. This theme has cured me from ever wanting to read another American serial killer novel. From 1625, when The Three Musketeers begins to 1673 when d’Artagnan is shot dead in The Man of the Iron Mask in the battle of Maesticht, the saga follows the friendship of four men. They grow old; individually change loyalties and political sides but they always follow the dictum, “All for one and one for all.”
It was best put by Robert Louis Stevenson who read the Vicomte de Bragellone at least five times. Of his second reading he wrote, “I would sit down with the Vicomte for a long, silent, solitary lamp-light evening by the fire. And yet I know not why I call it silent, when it was enlivened with such clatter of horse-shoes, and such a rattle of musketry, and such a stir of talk; or why I call these evenings silent in which I gained so many friends. I would rise from my book and pull the blind aside, and see the snow and the glittering hollies checker a Scotch garden, and the winter moonlight brighten the white hills. Thence I would turn again to the crowded and sunny field of life in which is was so easy to forget myself, my cares and my surroundings: a place as busy as a city, bright as a theatre, thronged with memorable faces, and sounding with delightful speech. I carried the thread of that epic into my slumbers, I woke with it unbroken, I rejoiced to lunge into the book again at breakfast, it was with a pang that I must lay it down and turn to my own labours; for no part of the world has ever seemed to me so charming as these pages, and not even my friends are quite as real, perhaps quite so dear, as d’Artagnan.”
Up until last night Rosemary and I have seen 15 (out of a total of 22) episodes of Foyle’s War. We have not seen them in order and all of the videos we have taken out from several branches of the Vancouver Public Library. Rosemary and like the fact that this British series, featuring Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle (Michael Kitchen), in charge of crime investigation in the coastal town of Hastings during WWII, has sparse dialogue. Sometimes the accents are so thick we cannot understand them but we like that the cops do not carry guns.
It would be an understatement to say that we have become addicted to the show. In the evening we sit by our Trinitron-not-so-flat TV and enjoy the comfort of a difficult sometime impenetrable plot with characters who are predictable. They are like family much like Stevenson saw the four musketeers.
In the middle of the night a few nights ago I thought of why Microsoft Windows is called Windows. Until I spend the money to get another monitor (not likely) where I would have the ability to look at two different windows (Photoshop on one screen and Corel Paintshop Pro 10 on the other) I have to juggle multiple windows on one screen. It can be confusing but fun nonetheless.
It occurred to me in the middle of that night that Windows’ windows are much like our very own existence. Rosemary and I on Athlone Street in Vancouver are one window. Rebecca and I at the Santa Fe Ranch in South Texas was another window. Come June 2011 when Rosemary, Rebecca, Lauren and I visit Mike and Letty at their Santa Fe Ranch that window will be enlarged to encompass two more human beings. My life in Buenos Aires, in Mexico, in Texas are other windows (if you consider time to be seamless) I can conjure here, as I often do, when I like.
When we were in Texas in June, the heat, the ranch, the proceedings there, were so separate from our existence in Vancouver. It felt (as I see it now) as if I had definitely clicked on my screen to minimize my Vancouver existence and clicked on another, Texas, a somewhat alien but still comfortable new existence.
These clicks, back and forth, from one reality to another make it seem like even our evenings with Christopher Foyle, his driver Sam Stewart (Honeysuckle Weeks) and Detective Sargeant Paul Milner (Anthony Howell) are but another window into another just-as-real world.
What makes the series different in my eyes is that series creator and writer Anthony Horowitz bypassed the novel (such as the elegant and excellent Inspector Morse series based on the equally elegant and excellent novels of Colin Dexter). Since I had read all of Dexter’s novels, when I saw the series I had to mix my memories of the novels with the new “reality” of seeing Inspector Morse in the flesh as played by John Taw. It was easy for me to point out to my friends (in a critical manner) how the novel’s plot had been changed or how the TV Inspector Morse would not have done this or that.
In Horowitz’s series what you see is what you get and there can be no previous preconception of who the characters are. Horowitz has Sam Stewart drive Christopher Foyle because Foyle “does not drive”. Why he does not drive we never know. It is such little bits or holes of information that keep Rosemary and I glued to the screen. We are living in Hastings. And as we see one episode today and one tomorrow these characters are real people in a real world made so by fewer special effects, reduced violence and best of all by glances, smirks, smiles, the raising of eyebrows that replace the unending dialogue of most of contemporary television.
When I went to teach my photography class at Focal Point on Tuesday evening (Focal Point is right next to a branch of the Vancouver Public Library on West 10th Avenue) I entered the public library and to my delight I found two, yet unseen episodes of Foyle’s War!
In some way the window of my teaching and the window of Foyle’s war meshed for an instant and I am almost unable to decide which of all the windows of my life are the most saliently real. They must all be, musn’t they?
Just a click away.