Blog #66 – The power of Rick Astley in time of war

Not much blogging recently. The reason?

I’ve spent most of the last year in the early twentieth century, focussed on the production of my play BLISS, based on a short story by Andrey Platonov (1899-1951). That finished its run in a London fringe theatre last night. The rest of my time has had me – headwise, at least – buried even earlier, researching a true story from 19th Century England.

Returning to the present, I gather there has been a war on.

This was brought home most forcibly this week by the arrival of Ukrainian refugees in our quiet neighbourhood. For all its faults South Cambridgeshire has many people with large houses and – and it transpires – large hearts. On a beautiful English summer Sunday, several families – British and Ukraine – gathered in the garden of especially generous neighbours for a ‘Welcome’  BBQ.

The idea of leaving the country you love to escape war; of leaving behind loves ones caught up in fighting;  bringing only what you can fit in a – ridiculously small – suitcase; of seeking refuge in a country you’ve never visited, where a language you barely know is spoken, and where you must live in the house of complete strangers. All this is – certainly for me – the stuff of nightmares. But also, it would seem, it is the stuff of wonder.

For a good couple of hours, adults sit around exchanging phone numbers, information and small talk in two animated languages, interpreting across the divide as best we can (none of us are bilingual). Meanwhile vegetarian sausage and the full fat variety jostle for space on plates already loaded with olives, cheese and pickled cucumber. Children run about, and teenagers weigh each other nervously. The last, with their disrupted education are perhaps the most to be pitied – first pandemic, then invasion has smashed away their school-attending habits, stolen their fathers, dispersed their friends. In some cases, the impact of isolation is clear. Kids who would never have found socialising easy, have now had three years where meeting someone means – at best – gaming with a stranger online.

Then someone cues Rick Astley. ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ wafts around the roses and there is no one who does not know it.  Adults grin, children dance and drum and sing along, teenagers – even those with itching thumbs – can’t stop themselves smiling.

In the world of pop, we are global citizens – just trying to be true.

Never gonna give you up
Never gonna let you down
Never gonna run around and desert you
Never gonna make you cry
Never gonna say goodbye
Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you

Never Gonna Give You Up lyrics © All Boys Music Ltd., Sids Songs Ltd., Mike Stock Publishing Limited

2 thoughts on “Blog #66 – The power of Rick Astley in time of war

  1. Aaah – Rick- who knew he’d be so appropriate
    Well done Fras on an emotional report about the important emotional issues of the moment x

    Like

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