More strangeness in retirement. I’m sorry to keep harping on about it, but it’s true. Let’s see if I can make the case. There was a film many years ago, recently remade I believe, called Far from the Madding Crowd. It starred Julie Christie (of whom I was a big fan) and some bloke. In my case this film would be called far from the maddening (get it) crowd. Let me explain. My attitude to other human beings is what you might call ambivalent. There’s a degree of anti-socialness in my make-up that’s always been there but which may have developed even further now I’m retired. I’m one of those people who has spent their whole lives looking for an empty beach. So where better for our holiday than this most remote part of Europe, well one of them anyway. So last night (Monday) there we were, all four of us, daughter, husband, Mrs Summerhouse and myself (already a crowd in my book) sitting in a small village called Ballyferriter (can’t do the Gaelic version) in this far distant part of Ireland. I say small, tiny even, but predictably it has three pubs and a hotel / pub / restaurant. It was to the latter that we had brought our guests, daughter and son-in-law, to dine out. I was already stepping outside my comfort zone (going out to eat in a place with other people) when, only a few minutes into our visit, God, or whoever arranges these things, stepped up, took hold of my comfort zone by the hems and ripped it to shreds. I guess I’d better explain. And the picture above is a clue although a rather obscure one.
It’s back to films for the explanation and to the latest Star Wars specifically. I have already written about the presence of this film just down the road from where we are staying, last night the theory became reality. In the form of 15 or more huge trucks and one much smaller and highly decorated catering truck, quite at odds with the bland hugeness of the other vehicles. I’m not sure what these trucks are for being no expert in film-making, surely they can’t all be ‘caravans’ for the stars; that would be a lot of ‘stars’, despite the title of the film. I’m told that there will be a crew of 500 people, some say 100, working in this area. Anyway, there we were putting our minds to ordering our dinner when this convoy, there’s no other word, came rattling, no thundering, through the village, relentless, one truck after the other and, just when you thought there couldn’t be any more, there was. The road though the village is definitely narrow and, with the locals parking their cars on either side, the available space was small indeed so just let’s say you could not miss these trucks as they powered past the windows. Just as well there was no other traffic or it would have been flattened.
By strange coincidence, there’s that word again, also in the restaurant were two Kiwi bikers. Well, they were either bikers, on account of their big, shiny helmets, or aliens off the film set. They were chatting freely to the waitress, who was a cross between Mrs Brown (as in Mrs Brown’s Boys), (in looks) and Julie Walters (in her famous soup spilling, Mrs Overall sketch). Our waitress didn’t spill soup she just threw the knives and forks on the floor. Made a hell of a noise. They, the utensil-throwing waitress and the biking Kiwis, were chatting about Star Wars of course and the Kiwis were talking about the impact of Lord of the Rings on their tourist economy. Parts of the LOTR sets had been retained after the three films had been completed, they said. I can’t see that happening here, from what we can see, the set would be a blot on the landscape rather than an attraction. But there is no doubt that providing the location of a major film can aid, if not transform, the economy of an area. The guide books are always keen to point out that Ryan’s Daughter and Far and Away later on, had more or less saved Dingle which, until that point, was a small, struggling, fishing village. Struggling until the tourists, attracted by the film/s which had shown the world what they were missing, arrived in their droves. I think I might have preferred it as a struggling fishing village because it is bloody well over-flowing with tourists now. Of course without the tourists, mostly Americans, there would be no music, cafes or restaurants. There would of course be pubs, dozens of them, that’s one thing Ireland has never been short of and some music because that’s always been there as well, just not as much. I’m told just one pub had Irish music in the early days, now every pub has live music.
Anyway, enough about the tourists, let me finish off with Star Wars, that most unlikely of films to be made here. I took the photo above of the ‘set’ on the day before. I don’t know where all these huge, they really were big, vehicles are going to park but they’re not on this photo. We may go back (we did a couple of days later but still couldn’t see where the trucks had got to) and take a look but, unlike most sightseers, my inclination is to keep well away. In fact that’s what we’re doing today heading in the opposite direction looking for that big beach devoid of other people (we found it). To compound my misery at our remote holiday idyll being discovered by the hoi polloi, we hear that Top Gear have been filReming in the area and that Chris Evans has been broadcasting about the delights of the area. Idiot. What I want to know is, where is this ‘galaxy far away’? because, with the increasing popularity of this area, I may want to go there. Sorry, I said no more and that was some more.
I’m going to end this blog with a new addition to the family literati, my son-in-law. As you see it fits with the retirement and a galaxy far away focus of this blog. He wrote the following limerick appropriately themed and kindly agreed to my using it in this blog. We never knew about this talent of his.
A young man went visiting his in-laws / Seeing Archie and Millie with their tongue and paws / he went travelling around Ireland / A year after Byland / And finished on the set of Star Wars
A word of explanation, his in-laws are myself and Mrs Summerhouse obvously, Archie and Millie are the dogs, Byland is a reference to Byland Abbey where they got married nearly a year ago and he wasn’t actually on the set but damn close to it. So retirement it continues in its holiday strangeness.
PS I’ve just stopped by my area office to post this blog (it has wifi) and my man Christie has just had the New York Times on the phone asking about the effect of the film on the local economy. Oh dear, so it begins.