When a lovely lady was trying to encourage me to go and see “Sunshine On Leith”, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. But I needed a night out with the girls so Elizabeth, Miriam and I nipped down the Motorway to the nicer of our local Cinemas (The one with the better seats) and sat through some very weird Adverts before being treated to a lovely story of Family, Trust, Truth, the indecipherable nature of woman – oh and it turns out it was a musical! Yayness!! (Usually I would encourage folk to know a little about the film they are going to see – but every so often, it’s nice to be surprised.)
The Soldiers returning home theme is one that resonates with most generations, but is very topical right now. It could have been something that drowned the story, but although it wasn’t ignored, the soldiers attempting to fit back into their community was more tied up with the family relationships and the balance between the men and women of the story.
Once again we’re also presented with a story told through songs. That it’s the songs of the Proclaimers, who it turns out are amazing poets and now legendary bards in their own right is a huge bonus. Even the songs that aren’t “famous” are ones that somehow resonate because of the songwriters’ drawing on traditional scottish musical and poetic themes. Because of this, the lovesongs are somehow more romantic, the songs of mourning more poignant, the songs of celebration more raucus – Yes the Scots are a people who certainly wear their emotions on their sleeves. They may be small, but their heart is a huge one. (I have some Scots Genes….can you tell? 🙂 )
It’s interesting too that there are two contrasting almost conflicting ideas contained within portions of the story. They’re competing ideas that run through all our stories, but I wonder whether they’re really mutually exclusive? On the one hand you get the “move on and leave the past behind” idea – this is encapsulated in the positive self talk song “Over and Done with” and the character of the daughter Liz, who wants to go and seek adventure, experience the world, see more than just a life with her man and supporting Hibs – This is the typical Celtic Wanderlust, the desire to leave your past behind as it’s over. Not letting the past hold you down and simply “getting over it”. There are times for me when this kind of positive “move on with your life” talk and attitude is healthy and often essential.
But hand in hand with this, the other side to the Celtic Spirit is the desire and longing for home (the Welsh refer to this as the Hiraeth, an almost physiological yearning to take the past and home with you – a physical and spiritual connection to the land itself), the embracing of the past in acknowledgement that it’s what made you, the living up to the responsibilities of past loves, past mistakes and past loyalties. And so, Rab won’t forsake his newfound daughter who resulted from an indiscretion; neither can he let go of his wife Jean, who he knows he has hurt, but still dearly loves; she in turn, although angry and at first pettily demanding that she should have been loved (another great sung performance from Jane Horrocks) embraces the new element of their family that involves and embraces the past. She cannot easily lay aside the long time love for her man and brings the past and forgiveness together in one moment. Davey visits his injured fellow soldier, despite his own obvious discomfort because of his own loyalty and Ally returns to his life as a squaddie after his own hurt, because it’s a life he knows, it’s a life he feels he belongs and because there he feels wanted – but you’re also left with the feeling that Liz and Ally’s relationship won’t stop there and is far from over. So we see in this that there can be a fusing of moving on from the past and embracing it at the same time and that’s the healthy way forward.
The story can be uncomfortable for us girls and for men alike in that it shows Women at their most indecipherable – the typical female assumption that men can read their minds – it’s sometimes almost a refusal to share what’s in your mind because “if someone really loves me, they’ll know what I want”. Sorry guys, but that’s how some girls think – but girls, it’s a complete invitation to be utterly disapointed and I sometimes wonder whether that’s actually the intention and the girsl are just looking for an excuse to be mad at guys… I don’t know, it’s not just a girl/guy thing but closer to an introvert/extrovert thing. Nevertheless, here we see the girls making assumptions about what the guys know and on the guy’s parts we see them in their turn not telling the whole truth about themselves either – simply because it’s not something at the forefront of their minds. How complicated we make relationships! And they really don’t have to be 🙂
In the end though, Love does prove to be the winner – self takes a back seat, joy abounds and yay, Songs are sung. Go and enjoy!