Tonight we will be reinstituting the custom that we’re not going to call Shabbat because we’re not Jewish but which is based on the same idea: before dinner we turn off all devices – TV, phones, radios and computers – and then eat. Said devices then stay off until dinnertime on Saturday. It’s hard to do but really good to take a break from technology and recharge the batteries. So if you want me during the hours of 6 pm today to the same time tomorrow you’ll have to pop round in person.
I’ve been re-reading The Mystery of Edwin Drood in connection with a story I’m writing. I read this years ago; it was Dickens’ last novel and he died before it was finished, so no-one knows how it ends. I daresay people have tried to finish it but I’m not going to do that; instead the story is based around the – actually, if I told you that I’d have to kill you so I’ll just have to leave it to your imaginations. Apparently there was a BBC series back in 2012 where the screenwriter attempted to finish the story. How did I miss that?
Going back to the thing-which-isn’t-Shabbat for a moment, it’s become almost a social obligation to be permanently available. If you switch your phone off even for a few hours people can become plaintive. ‘I’ve been trying to get hold of you!’ they whine. And don’t even get me started on employers who pay you for eight hours a day but seem to think you should be available for 24. It should not be an act of defiance to be unavailable for a day or two, but often it is. So Friday night seems a good place to start. Speaking of which, OH has recently got into the sitcom Friday Night Dinner whose co-star Paul Ritter recently died. FND is about a Jewish family who meet every Friday night for dinner but are otherwise not observant Jews. Tamsin Greig is always worth watching and there’s a good supporting cast but to me the series was too full-on, too obvious; it lacked highs and lows. The adult offspring were far too childish to be believable and always did the same things every week and the neighbour Jim was preposterously annoying. To me it would have been funnier if it had started off each week with everyone trying to be on their best behaviour and being unable to keep it up. Still, OH found it very amusing so that’s something. And it ran for six series so some people must have liked it.
Hey ho. Have a good weekend. See you on the other side.