Rory and I recently finished watching the BBC series Lark Rise to Candleford. It had been on my “to watch” list for years, but I waited to suggest it to Rory until we were in need of another good series to watch. I don’t know how I keep getting him to agree to watch British corset dramas, but I just hope my luck there holds.
I had favorite characters from the show (Dorcas, Alfie, Emma, Queenie, Minnie…), ones I was lukewarm about (Laura, Daniel, all of Dorcas’s love interests other than the teacher), and the ones I just wanted to throttle (Twister, OMG Caroline, and sometimes Pearl), but with the mix of personalities, many lessons can be learned.
- If you love someone and they love you back, grab hold of that love. Dorcas gave up Timothy’s love when she was young, thinking she couldn’t have it all. C’mon, Dorcas. With a husband like the Squire, your options would be pretty wide open. She wouldn’t have been quite so independent, probably, and may not have had such marvelous, quirky clothes, but she missed out on decades of happiness.
- Be honest and true, to yourself and others. Caroline. Where do I start? She was a horrible mother, a liar, and irresponsible. She made her mistakes everyone else’s problem. She had no sense of personal responsibility. While she should have been taking care of her family, she was spending what little money she had (or even didn’t have) on ale and whatever. And pawning off her responsibilities onto others. Her carelessness cost family and friends their money and extra effort. Bad, bad Caroline. She kept thinking her luck would improve, or that something good would come along. She would lie to herself about life and about her own actions, and then lied to others about it, including her own kids. This isn’t how life works. And it doesn’t help that I can’t stand Dawn French. Twister can also be included in this lesson. He would regularly take what little money he could get his hands on and go drink it down at the pub. Rather than actually help secure his and Queenie’s situation by saving money for food and rent, she often had to trick him to actually keep them alive. She did sometimes kick him out or disappear on her own, but she always went back to him. I kept rolling my eyes at her. But Twister did not ever learn his lesson. At least, it never stuck. He jeopardized his life and that of his lovely wife because he was selfish and never considered others.
- Follow your passion. Robert Timmins, played by the always wonderful Brendan Coyle, was a stone mason. He worked very hard doing masonry work wherever they would hire him. But his dreams were in creating art within that masonry. It was so rewarding to be able to watch him be able to exercise that dream, and being paid what he was worth for it. Being paid for what you love to do is a worthy and realistic goal.
- People will find anything to argue about. From big things, like stealing, to small things, such as a perceived-but-unfounded slight, people will get upset about just about anything. Try to keep things in perspective, and keep communicating.
- Don’t give up on those you care about. Even among dear friends and family, the show displayed quite a number of arguments, oftentimes with hurtful words. But every single time, when the relationship was one worth preserving, one or both of the involved parties went back to the other and talked it out, apologizing as necessary, and reestablishing the positive relationship. So, don’t be afraid to apologize, and keep those lines of communication open. Some people are important and worth swallowing your pride for.
- Find joy in the little things. You don’t need a lot of things or a lot of money to be happy. If you are grateful for what you do have, notice the joy in the small interactions in your life, and appreciate the quality people that you know, you’re likely to be happy. I know it was fiction, but there was at least as much happiness in Lark Rise as there was in Candleford. Sometimes the more you have, the less you realize what truly matters.
- You can make your own family. If your biological family is absent or isn’t family you would choose, you can make your own family. Queenie routinely took in people, temporarily or longer, to care for them. She took in the whole Arless family (the kids, anyway) when they needed care, until Alf had enough income to support his siblings. It takes love, a generous nature, and a sprinkling of selflessness, but some people are just wired that way.
There are countless more lessons to be learned from the show, but those are just a few off the top of my head. If you like British period television shows, give Lark Rise to Candleford a try. We thoroughly enjoyed it.