At home during these dark evenings we’re enjoying old films on the Talking Pictures channel.
I like their detective series, being gentler and more down-to-earth than modern equivalents. There’s Gideon’s Way, saluting Scotland Yard; then Public Eye, featuring down-at-heel private investigator Frank Markham.
Before the start of programmes – some going back to the ‘30s – there is often a warning they may contain scenes or language which could offend. Yet there is none of the violence or swearing of current dramas and films. They mean, of course, these classics are not – to use today’s disinfected parlance – politically correct. We’re certainly not offended!
Instead they’re a delight: tightly scripted and with no gratuitous gore; acted by theatre-trained professionals and, generally, optimistic and uplifting, while also being full of social history.
We’re reminded of how people lived less than a lifetime ago. There’s greyness, yes, but also harmless fun and cheeriness; a traditional mix of society (sorry, if that offends) and, above all, very few cars!
The films are a reminder of how towns and suburbs once were. How wonderful to see mainly pedestrians, a few cycles, possibly a horse and cart – then the odd car; but no double-parking, motorway congestion or road rage. There are even trees lining avenues; gardens and parks, instead of tarmacadam. Trains, buses and trams are packed and fully staffed; they run regularly and are cheap. Those were the days!
Now many young people, with others old enough to know better, care more about their treasured car and its ‘image’ than their own appearance or, sadly, behaviour to others. I wonder if, in less than a lifetime from now, viewers might look back and laugh, amazed by our selfish, senseless attachment to cars, with their high pollution and costs.
I fear, however, there might by then only be a ‘virtual’ world remaining.
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