I've watched some pretty interesting things on TV over the past few weeks, and kept thinking about them. I thought I'd mention a few.
1) Concert for Diana
I guess many of us probably watched the huge concert organised by Princes William and Harry to mark the tenth anniversary of their mother's fatal accident. I enjoyed all the interesting artists and acts they'd drawn together, but I also watched a young journalist interview the two princes the evening before. What has stayed in my mind is one short statement they made.
"We know she really loved us."
And the film footages they showed of Princess Diana with her young sons just reinforced that. It's evident how much she did love them, in the way she looked at them, the way she made time for them in her busy schedule and the way she spoke about them on the media. Because of the seeds she sowed into their lives in their earliest years, William and Harry could sit there, in their twenties, and confidently claim, "We know we were her priority." And in my opinion, that made Diana a smashing success and example. I couldn't help thinking of several children of celebrities who have been heard to say the exact opposite about their parents. And her example is one that any of us could follow. If my kids ever declare, "I know she really loved us," years down the track, then I'll feel that I've been a success too. No matter what the media have dragged up about Diana's personal life, she's made a bigger impact on me than many, for this simple reason.
2) The Worst Jobs of the Georgian Era
Journalist Tony Robinson hosted a program about the seamier side of this elegant time period, when we think of genteel tea parties, the pomp and pride of the British empire, and Jane Austen sitting in her parsonage writing her masterpieces of literature. I'll tell you what, after watching what he brought up last night, I'm quite content to be living in the 21st century, thanks very much! Some of the occupations mentioned were incredible. I'll just mention a few.
There was the bath attendant in Bath. They had to help the infirm, elderly and sick visitors dip into the public baths, which meant that they had to subject themselves to some of the worst noxious skin diseases all day and every day, and then clean scum off the tops of the baths. Not my idea of fun.
Then there were the famous Italian Castrato singers who were said to have the voices of angels. But, of course, they were called castratos for obvious reasons, and even then, some of them were judged to be second-rate failures. Eight & nine year old boys who'd already been set apart as having especially sweet and clear voices were chosen for the "honour". It makes my skin crawl.
By far the weirdest occupation I've ever heard of is professional hermit. These guys were hired by the gentry & aristocracy when landscape artists such as Capability Brown made wonderful gardens for them. The well-to-do families hired hermits to live in little caves on their property designed especially for them. Part of the contract meant that hermits had to walk out and display themselves when the family were showing visitors through. It was all for show, to appeal to the "wild, romantic, poetic" side of human nature. But the poor hermits were not supposed to communicate with anybody at all. Staff brought their food to them each night and they were only paid every seven years. They said that one poor fellow was fired after three weeks, when he was discovered having a drink in the local pub.
3) Stranger Than Fiction.
This is a fun movie we hired that would have to appeal to the creative in anybody. Will Farrell is the hero, who notices a stranges woman's voice narrating his life wherever he goes. After hours of therapy, he discovers that he is a fictional character who has been invented by a lady author (Emma Thompson) whose trademark is killing off her main characters in unusual ways. So he goes on a wild and desperate chase to try to convince her to leave him alive. An unusual and very entertaining plot.