Tuesday, December 31, 2013

GK Chesterton & George Bernard Shaw in the Movies

I'm just putting this up for posterity sake. I found a halfway decent, if small, photo of Chesterton and Shaw on the outdoor set of a test film by J.M. Barrie (of Peter Pan fame). They made two short films with Barrie in 1914, but this still photo is all that is known to have survived from either. It was western called How Men Love. (The other film short was called Rosy Rapture, the Pride of the Beauty Chorus.) Below is what Chesterton wrote in his autobiography of the event:

"We went down to the waste land in Essex and found our Wild West equipment. But considerable indignation was felt against William Archer; who, with true Scottish foresight, arrived there first and put on the best pair of trousers … We … were rolled in barrels, roped over fake precipices and eventually turned loose in a field to lasso wild ponies, which were so tame that they ran after us instead of our running after them, and nosed in our pockets for pieces of sugar. Whatever may be the strain on credulity, it is also a fact that we all got on the same motor-bicycle; the wheels of which were spun round under us to produce the illusion of hurtling like a thunderbolt down the mountain-pass. When the rest finally vanished over the cliffs, clinging to the rope, they left me behind as a necessary weight to secure it; and Granville-Barker kept on calling out to me to Register Self-Sacrifice and Register Resignation, which I did with such wild and sweeping gestures as occurred to me; not, I am proud to say, without general applause. And all this time Barrie, with his little figure behind his large pipe, was standing about in an impenetrable manner; and nothing could extract from him the faintest indication of why we were being put through these ordeals."

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Remembering Ros

Ros 1961 to 2012

I distinctly remember a friend of mine—a good amateur paleontologist—back in the late 90s talk about going out of town to meet up some like minded people he had met through an internet group. I laughed until I cried. “You’re not actually going to meet a bunch of internet dorks!?”

I still dislike the notion of such a thing. I guess I never considered internet friends to be “real” friends. They were more like acquaintances. And I’ve had many such acquaintances over the years that I’ve met through my YouTube channels and blogging as well as my George MacDonald site. I’ve answered hundreds of emails from George MacDonald fans. But I never once considered having a cup of coffee with anyone I met on the internet. That is, until I met Ros.

Not that it would ever happen. She lived in England, and chances are I would never set foot in Europe, nor she in the States (although I think she did visit the USA once before I met her). Unlike many people I had encountered on the internet, Ros had a less than dorky way about her. She was a very fun loving Catholic girl who enjoyed everything about CS Lewis, and she was in love with the movie Shadowlands. She used the title as her internet handle for blogging. I think she could have watched it every day really. She bought a book I had out about George MacDonald, more of a study guide than anything really, and not a very good one at that. But she wanted to know more about the man who had inspired Lewis.

Ros wrote to me often over the years. She was always very encouraging and often knew just what to say when I was unhappy. She was the embodiment of effervescence. But her happiness came in the face of adversity. Her marriage ended some years ago, and two of her sons had terrible physical problems. Her youngest, who I believe is about 17 now, was homebound, and the doctors didn’t seem to be doing him much good. Then one of her older boys was jumped a couple of years ago and beaten badly one night, suffering horrible head trauma that might afflict him for life.

All this contributed to what Ros called her thorn in the flesh. She began drinking heavily and couldn’t seem to find her way out. I normally wouldn’t talk about this, but it’s on her blog for all the world to see. Rather than hide it, she sought the prayers of those who knew and cared about her. She fought with it and agonized over it daily. I recall at one point she drank in her garden one evening until she passed out and found herself covered with snow the next morning. Her drinking was that bad. I can safely say that I have never met anyone who tried so hard to rid themselves of an addiction. She wondered why God wouldn’t take it from her. It wasn’t for lack of prayers. Nor for lack of good deeds. She worked in homeless shelters and many charitable causes. It was something she couldn’t beat on her own.

Ros would sometimes get flustered with the internet and would sign off for months at a time. I hadn’t heard from her for quite a while though and searched around a bit today to see if anyone else had heard anything only to find out that she died back in September. Her brother left a blog page in tribute to her. He doesn’t mention the circumstances of her death, but those of us who knew her can probably surmise that it was alcohol related.

Why didn’t God take this compulsion to drink away from her? Yes, that’s the question isn’t it. I wonder, did St. Paul take his thorn in the flesh to the grave too? Actually, I imagine he did. One thing I can tell you from the writings of St Paul and St Ros both is that they loved their God in spite of it. Perhaps that's all God is concerned with. Will we, like Job, still love him in spite of our suffering?

Ros once told me that she had dreamed one night that I was standing at her door stoop. In fact, it’s why she read my book. She thought it was a message from God. She figured I was there to help her in some way. I guess it never dawned on her that God would bring me into her life so that she could help me.

I’ve had other “real” internet friends since Ros and will certainly have others. But she remains very special to me. I will be very proud to have a cup of coffee with her in heaven one fine day.

Looking after children at Norfolk County Council