Tuesday, December 29, 2015


       We watched the movie, Midnight in Paris, and I was struck with the realization that the nostalgic desire for a bygone era is not limited to modern people. The main character, who has had a chance to travel back in time, meets a lady who longs for an even earlier age. 

       In November my daughters and I had a lovely evening at the World War I Museum in Kansas City. We went to meet and listen to Sir Alastair Bruce, the official historian to the Queen of England and the historical advisor to the popular British series, Downton Abbey. We were so excited; we love history so much, that we were almost giddy to meet Sir Alastair Bruce. He was gracious and kind and best of all, so genuine that one would think he was an old friend. A gentleman, he asked if he could place his hands on our shoulders for a photo. He introduced himself as "Alastair."

       Susanna asked if he would allow her to "...do the teenager thing and take a selfie?" He graciously and enthusiastically obliged, later answering her tweet as to what a great shot it was!

       What a kind man. His lecture was fascinating and entertaining. My four oldest daughters and I have always loved historical dramas. Perhaps because most Americans have ancestral roots from other countries, we love pieces set in the UK and continental Europe. For example, I love to watch the British mini-series North and South, because my father's family were cotton millers from the Scottish border and Northern England in Carlisle. Alastair Bruce discussed the changes in aristocracy and landholding between the late 1700s through World War I. Due to great taxing of the large, old country houses, many were no longer financially viable and were literally blown up. Thankfully, Highclere Castle and others were preserved. Highclere is the setting for Downton Abbey. Another great house, Chatsworth, home of the Duke of Devonshire, is used as Mr. Darcy's Pemberly in the most recent Pride and Prejudice movie. Netflix has some great documentaries on these houses.

       I found myself saying to the Geek Squad guy who came and straightened out our router (they really do visit in little orange and black painted cars) that I must have been meant to live 50 to 100 years earlier. Technology, though miraculous, is frustrating and complicating far too often. To my children's chagrin I really do remember playing outside all day and using my imagination well. I truly did ride my horse, or someone else's, for hours and hours in wind, rain and snow. It was a beautiful childhood. Will my children say that all of the gaming and TV viewing was "beautiful" one day?

       The character from Midnight in Paris does find contentment in the present. He uses his nostalgia of the past to share with a new friend, and to write novels. I am glad that I can share my love of history with my daughters, to sit with a pot of tea and watch a beautifully filmed show. And of course, to write.

No comments:

Post a Comment