Some men came over this morning to clean up the decking in our garden and replace some rotten bits, but discovered that there were more rotten bits that non-rotten bits, so I decided to replace the whole thing. It’s possible that I have been taken for a ride, but I don’t mind. They were funny men, both called Craig and I am happy to pay a bit of Beta male tax to help them raise their families. And I saw the decking and it did look fucked.
My daughter has been growing a sunflower from seed over the last few weeks. It’s been on the window sill for a while, but earlier this week it got transferred into the garden. It was still quite a puny single stalk, but she was really enjoying watching it slowly grow. It was planted quite close to the decking and at lunch time my wife noticed that it was down. One of the Craigs had inadvertently trampled the sapling flower and it was destroyed. It was just an unfortunate accident and you couldn’t really blame him for not noticing this thin reed, but we knew Phoebe would be heartbroken.
And so, as a father who loves his daughter and wants to spare her from the pain of the world, I drove to the local garden centre with my baby son to see if I could buy a replacement sunflower plant. It was unlikely I’d find one that was so immature, but maybe I could find something similar and then it would be a nice surprise if it turned out to be a different plant to the seed she’s planted.
I did find a sunflower in a pot, but it was very much fully grown, with a flower and thick leaves. It looked nothing like the one in our garden, but my daughter is young and foolish and easily tricked by saying something is magic. And to be fair she has no idea how quickly sunflowers grow (and nor do I actually). There was a chance that this could work.
Luckily the work is half done so our small garden is too chaotic and dangerous for the kids to go in for the moment. The best shot of making this work is if we can keep her from going to look for her plant until we’re back from holiday. Will we pull off this subterfuge? Is it acceptable to lie to our child in this way to spare her feelings? Would we be better off letting her know the truth so she could learn to cope with the cruelty of the real world and nature red in tooth and claw and clumsy in Craig’s boot?
But my mission of mercy and love felt like a noble quest, even if this plan fails and causes our daughter to be suspicious of us for the rest of her life. I know that many tears will flow in her life, but I’d do anything to stop just one of them.
Tonight we went to see Goodnight Sweetheart D’Movie. Or Yesterday as they seem to be calling it (though I thought that was the channel it went out on). It was a press screener, interestingly with quite a few podcasters in attendance. I was with the Drunk Women and we were sat behind Scroobius Pip. It was going to be a tough call to impress me with this one with my history of occasional dissatisfaction with Richard Curtis films and high standards for the logical integrity of entertainment about time travel or alternate universes. I thought to begin with the film was going to win me over. There are some great performances and some fun jokes and I was happy to overlook the fact that there was no real good reason why everyone in the world apart from seemingly just one man, would forget the Beatles and the fact that the absence of that group seemed to have had no massive repercussions on anything else. There were one or two things that were affected, but I don’t need to tell you that even a minor chance to something in the 1960s would have meant a totally different history for all of us and a completely altered population, fo anyone born after that at least (and - spoiler alert- if there was no cigarettes either - I mean just think of all the people who would be alive who had been dead for starters). Without the Beatles basically nothing would be the same.
But as I say, I overlooked this. I know from my own experience of trying to write about this how you can get bogged down in the logical truth and how artistic licence makes for a better story (and let’s face it, it’s not like it’s anything that could actually happen anyway). Sadly, for me, the film concentrated more on a sappy and unconvincing love story, that wasn’t very interesting and had unnecessary jeopardy suddenly introduced to it and the female character was too weak and girly to be interesting and too beautiful and sweet to be hanging around for ten years waiting for some idiot to tell her she loved him. I’d have much rather gone deeper into what had happened to the world or the repercussions of stealing another artists work, but it was instead a mildly patronising story about how fame and money weren’t as important as love and family and being a teacher.
And there was a huge misstep towards the end which seemed a bit tasteless and also didn’t make sense in the logic of the Universe. Again I think it was trying to make a point about the destructive nature of fame, but the film also seemed to be saying that the world would be a worse place without the music of the Beatles. And it can’t be both in this case.
Fame and success aren’t by their nature evil and being a teacher and having kids isn’t good either. In fact I think most teachers and parents would give you a fairly thorough and nuanced analysis of how shit they can be. Is it patronising for someone with a large degree of success and fame to make a film about those things being bad? Is it hypocritical to make a film that is attempting to be crowd pleasing and light and then be critical of executives just trying to make money off a genius product? Is it fair even?
But like most Curtis films there is enough enjoyable stuff in there and it does give you a genuine feeling of what it would be like to live in a world without Beatles songs and how it would be to hear them for the first time. The songs are good.
I also feel there would have been a lot more comic potential in having the guy who remembered the Beatles, but was struggling to remember all the words, releasing versions of the songs that were wrong (in most cases it wouldn’t matter if you filled in a few lyrical gaps). The idea is alluded to, but never actually shown. I suspect that the licensing of the songs meant that they were not allowed to change the words in actual performance. Which was a big shame as that could have been a great running joke. And I’d have had Liverpool Intenational Airport called Pete Best International Airport, but that’s just me.
It was unlikely I was going to love this though. But it felt like it was actually heading towards being something quite interesting and funny, but then derailed itself by insisting on being a light romance story about two people who you couldn’t really get behind because they’d spent so long failing to get together (so why was it so important that they did now?)
Wait for it to be on Netflix.
Hope they put that on the poster.
And maybe Richard Curtis thinks he is living in a Universe where everyone has forgotten Goodnight Sweetheart and Snodgrass. But he isn’t.
Unless I am the only other one who remembers them. Now THAT would be a film.