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Monday, May 28, 2012

Leaving Holmfirth is Hard to Do

Bill Owen's final resting place.

Our time in Holmfirth, while rich with meaning, rapidly drew to a close.  We had left so much undone.  The series depicted so many beautiful churches over the course of its thirty-seven year run, and we had wanted to see some of them.  We could have visited the church yard in which Bill Owen, who played Compo in the series, was buried.  We had planned to dine in the White Horse Inn, where Foggy, Norman, and Compo occasionally begin or end their adventures.  And of course, had we done more research, we could have found Norman Clegg’s house, and photographed it.

What one family has made of their life in Holmfirth.

“Last of the Summer Wine,” more than any other British comedy, epitomizes what drew me to England.  For the best comedy not only provides engaging characters, but allows them to grow and change.  While the number of episodes made each year tends to be small, one follows these characters over time: we celebrate their triumphs, we rue their failures.  The best of these shows, even if shot mostly in studio, also depict current life in Britain.  This style of living, so different from our own, drew us here.  Exploring Holmfirth has illuminated so many aspects of English life that tantalized us back in America.  So leaving Holmfirth is hard, because even though our journey in England will continue, our insights into this particular style of English living have drawn to a close.

Might Foggy convince Norman and Compo
 to ride their bicycles down this slope
and across these fields?

Another reason why leaving Holmfirth is hard is because the British don’t make sitcoms like they used to.  Those great shows shown on BBC and ITV, which once journeyed across the Atlantic Ocean, no longer reach American shores.  This is not to say that TV shows are no longer being made in England: of course they are.  But the style of humor, as well as the manner of production, has entirely changed.  I still enjoy watching the new dramas and mysteries made in England, but they don’t resonate in me the same way that the great comedies from the 1970s, 80s, and 90s do.  Why this should be, I do not know.  Late in his life, E.F. Benson, a prolific English author, purportedly said that of all the different types of stories, novels, and nonfiction books he had written, he felt that his lighter, comedic works spoke most clearly to the human condition.  So perhaps I am not alone in my sentiments.  For of all the works that E.F. Benson wrote, what he remains best known for are his “Mapp and Lucia” novels.

Time doesn't seem to exist here.

Time has a way of lulling one into complacency.  When first arriving at a particular stop in a journey, one thinks one has plenty of time for everything.  But regardless of how well one has scheduled and prioritized one’s adventures, suddenly realization strikes: Time has flown, and now one must leave.  Yet, while leaving a particular stop means the end of one journey, it also heralds the beginning of another.  While we remain saddened by what we have left behind, we hunger for what is yet to come.  I shall do my best to focus upon the joys we shall surely discover, as our footsteps lead us relentlessly onward.

Thanks for understanding,
Dragon Dave

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