Thursday 5 May 2016

My Mother and The Durrells

View of Trafalgar Square from steps of The National Gallery yesterday
Tomorrow it will be fourteen years since my mother passed away. Time heals, but there are reminders of her everywhere, which creep up when I least expect them to. Once someone has gone, they're so quickly forgotten (unless they're in the public eye), and now some time has passed, these reminders which once made me sad, help to keep my memories of her alive. 

The latest reminder is the wonderful Sunday night TV series, The Durrells. My Family and Other Animals was one of my mother’s favourite books, and she gave me a copy when I was around seven years old. It was one of those books that stayed with me, and that copy is in the loft somewhere (must read it again). Some books you remember reading more than others, and I still recall the picture I built up in my mind of Gerald Durrell’s life in that house in Corfu.

What’s so great about The Durrells? Pure escapism: it’s set in Corfu where the sun always shines, all the characters in the Durrell family have flaws, and the overall message is it’s OK when things go wrong, when your kids don’t do what you expect them to; and I especially like Larry’s life as a writer-the scene where he’s sitting under a tree tapping furiously on his typewriter, when he says, ‘I’m in the mood’. In last Sunday's episode, he received a rejection letter for his novel; and after a long discussion with his girlfriend, he decided to give up being a writer and became a farmer for the day. Farming didn’t suit him, and at one point he cut his foot with a spade. By the end of that episode, he announced that he was to be a writer and an intellectual. Besides all this, the actors are so well cast, led by Keeley Hawes, who plays Mrs Durrell beautifully.

The Durrells, like Downton Abbey transports you to a time when life was simpler and when there were fewer distractions. Today, I’m sure that the Durrells would have more of an outdoor life than in the UK because of the better weather and different culture: but if they had WiFi in that lovely house by the sea, perhaps Gerald would be too busy playing Minecraft on his iPad to capture and learn about animals and insects; Leslie might play Grand Theft Auto all day and night with strangers rather than shoot anything that moves; Margo might take pouty selfies and upload them to Instagram and Snapchat; Larry could be too busy writing self-indulgent blog posts, tweeting under the hashtag #amwriting and posting rants on Facebook to get any writing done. And Mrs Durrell would perhaps have discovered online dating. From what I’ve read online, The Durrells is loosely based on Gerald Durrell’s trilogy, but that doesn't bother me; it's an hour’s holiday on a Sunday evening, and I'm sure that my mother would have loved watching it.

I’m running a course on social media for writers on Saturday as my alter-ego neetsmarketing, and I went up to London yesterday to test out the IT side of things. I had a couple of hours to spare before my meeting at the hotel, so I went to a place where my mother always seems to be present: The National Gallery. She used to take me to London often on the train as a child and we’d go to The National Gallery before buying marmalade and sweets in Fortnum and Mason. At the time, I found this art gallery visit boring, as children generally do, and I’d sit on the leather banquette biting my nails, waiting for her to hurry up and finish studying the paintings, which seemed to take hours. But now I go there whenever I’m in London if I can, to see the paintings from my work in progress. Each time, I notice something different, and being that close to them fuels the old inspiration.

Here’s an old post on how my mother inspired my writing: Why do I write? 
Previous post: Something for the Inspiration, inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert's book, Big Magic.
Latest post from my neetsmarketing blog: How Can Real Life and Social Media Work Together?

And here's the trailer for The Durrells: