Reading the recent blog posts of my PPP colleagues, I’m feeling woefully inadequate. They’re full of worthy things – New Year’s resolutions, end-of-year achievements, useful advice. But at this time of year, still depressed after the Christmas decorations and the tree came down on Twelfth Night, my thoughts turn inevitably to guilty pleasures.
It’s dark when I wake up in the morning. It’s dark by the time I have my cup of tea in the afternoon. Even during the meagre daylight hours, the moments of sun are few and far between. And it’s cold – though admittedly not as cold as it was a year ago. I want – I crave – things that make me feel better, not worse.
Comfort food, of course, is important. Lovely thick soups and warming casseroles are on the menu. Just thinking about them makes me happy, cooking and eating them even more so. Never mind the calories.
Then there’s an even guiltier pleasure: hibernating with my knitting. And the television.
I know that writers aren’t supposed to admit to watching television, apart from improving documentaries and worthy dramas in foreign languages. But subtitles interfere with my knitting, and documentaries don’t qualify for me as comfort viewing. So I’m owning up to the truth on this one: I love to watch television.
Lately they’ve been making it easy for me to indulge in spending time with my big flat screen. First there was ‘Downton Abbey’, even now being shared with American audiences on PBS. And recently there’s been a veritable feast. ‘Sherlock’, now two-thirds of the way through its all-too-brief run, has been compulsive viewing, as was the first mesmerising series. Benedict Cumberbatch is stunningly believable as the near-sociopathic detective, and the scripts are clever beyond words.
In the same week as the first ‘Sherlock’, we were treated to ‘Endeavour’, an exploration of Morse before the Inspector bit. Set in 1965, when he was a mere Detective Constable, he still had a first name. He was also teetotal and didn’t drive; during the course of the drama, apart from solving a complex crime, he acquires the taste for real ale and vintage Jags that largely define his later character. It could have been awful, but it wasn’t. I found it unexpectedly moving, especially at the end.
The American viewing public may have a bit of a wait until these two wonderful programmes show up on PBS. What they might miss out on entirely, though I hope not, is ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’, a two-part dramatisation of Dickens’ unfinished masterpiece. Of course it’s right up my street, with its atmospheric cathedral setting and little bits of Anglican choral music.
Tonight I’ll be settling down with my knitting to watch the second episode, and discover how the scriptwriters solve the crime which Dickens left up in the air. The rest of you can go out for a run if you like, or go to the gym, or eat something healthy. Or even draft the outline for your next book.
Just leave me to my guilty pleasures.
Kate Charles writes crime novels set against the background of the Church of England, including the Callie Anson series.