Janice and I have been thoroughly enjoying the BBC series Us. It is a dramatisation of David Nicholl’s book of the same name, adapted by Nicholls himself.
A couple are coming to terms with their son going off to University. Now that he about to leave they think that they have no longer anything in common. Connie played by Saskia Reeves tells her husband Douglas played by Tom Hollander that she wants to leave him. He conjures the holiday of a lifetime with their son Albi to try and salvage something. The main focus of the holiday is Douglas’s relationship with his son which in the end does find its reconciliation.
Janice and I were a little gutted by the ending. Spoiler alert but this surmise is pointless without it. As Douglas and Connie leave a photographic exhibition of Albi’s, Douglas leaves and the series ends with him hand in hand with Freja whom he had met during the fateful holiday.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I have some understanding of the dilemma. It is clear from the flashbacks in the drama that Douglas and Connie were always very different from each other. That difference can coalesce and indeed unite ranks in the bringing up of children but after that is done, there might be little left of the original relationship.
Nicholl’s conclusion is bleak. It was thrown away too easily. Vows of "for better or for worse" were loosed too quickly. Love deserves much more of a fight.
I prefer John Lennon’s. In the same week that we were watching Us I was listening lots to Lennon as it was the week that he should have been celebrating his 80th Birthday.
Now, Lennon gave up way too easily, in my opinion, his first marriage to Cynthia. His second marriage to Yoko wasn’t without its drama and indeed break up. Yet, in 1980 just two months before his life, marriage and fatherhood was tragically cut short by a mad murderer he released his first new song in 5 years called (Just Like) Starting Over.
The charts in 1980 was between punk and the new romantics. The very same day that (Just Like) Starting Over was released as a single U2’s debut record Boy hit the shelves.
So, Lennon’s single with its echoes of Elvis and fifties rock n roll was hardly on the cutting edge of sound, proven in its initial slow climb up the charts. Yet, Double Fantasy was sentimentally subversive. In interviews of the time Lennon would talk about it as a statement to his generation, asking them how they were and looking towards the future with hopefulness. After the 60s the 70s were a let down so let us look to the 80s with a fresh energy.
Why don't we take off alone
Take a trip somewhere far, far away
We'll be together all alone again
Like we used to in the early days
Well, well, well darling
I was so struck with this verse in that it parallels Us. The song though has the ultimate hope of staying together and reinventing.
Our life together
Is so precious together
We have grown, mm we have grown
Although our love still is special
Let's take a chance and fly away somewhere.
Janice and I are at that crossroads just now. The girls are off to University. For us that is not the end of it. It might be a page turned or a chapter writing its way into another. I like to see it as a new chapter. We are still parents. We still have children. We are committed to Fitzroy. Our love is still growing, even in the changes of life around us.
Lennon’s last single release before his death inspires me with new possibilities. It is a future with love and potency. It is precious. We have grown. I am looking forward to some travel, God willing. Let’s get started!