Breaking the Fourth Wall

So it is Christmas finally. Well, not really. For some strange reason some people are still asking me to do work, which is not really fair off the back of a full on Carol service and a bad Christmas jumper evening at our favourite pub. As discussed with some younger friends of mine over some mulled wine this unreasonable view that for pay you need to actually do some work seems to still be somewhat entrenched. Oh well.

But at least people seem to be starting to enjoy themselves a bit. Perhaps too much in some cases… Certainly based on the groups of drunken young lads in London this Saturday, whose regression to naughty ten year olds was only held in check by the presence (thankfully) of the one member of the party who was sober/more mature and occasionally barked a quick reprimand to his friend that pressing the emergency stop button was not, in fact, the funniest thing ever. In fact we had a lovely day out in London this weekend including catching the musical version of Billy Elliot before it closes in the West End. This was a slightly odd experience for me as not having ever seen the original movie or this stage version I did not really know what to expect. Soon into the performance however, as the tears began to well up a bit, I realised why I had to this point deliberately avoided it. The problem with Billy Elliot is that it is too close to home for me to be comfortable. Not that I have ever fancied myself as a ballet dancer (stop laughing now) but more that I’m the same age as Billy Elliot. Based on the setting and the time, that could have been me. Right period, mining village in County Durham… all things I understand disturbingly well, and the characters and humour just made me think of family and people I knew. On the whole, I do not get that through entertainment I watch, as I prefer most of the time to wallow in escapism.

I am not sure exactly what I find disconcerting about seeing things I recognise as the own reality I grew up in, but I do. I wonder for me whether part of me really embraces a substantial gap between the realities of what my life actually looks like and the fictional world(s) I find entertainment and relaxation in. When they cross over a bit too much it jars. Another recent example was in the recent Bond movie – ridiculous escapism again, did anyone else just feel that this was an updated Roger Moore romp in many ways (and that, again for someone of my age, is by no means a criticism) – when Ralph Fiennes ‘M’ finishes off his late night dinner and walks out of a certain Covent Garden restaurant to which the Lovely Wife and I have a Christmas meal out every year. Indeed, the head of the ’00’ programme is eating a few tables away from where I proposed, although admittedly the table we had been sitting at back in 2012 is now a bar (I don’t think that is any kind of universal message on the state of our relationship). While it raised a grin, it also seemed just a bit weird.

Many times I am accused of deliberately mixing up aspects of my life (e.g. friends from different zones) and waiting to see what happens. But I think I would like to keep the reality and the fantasy a bit separate; I cannot help feeling that for me at least the impact of both would be diminished otherwise.