This Sparks Joy! July 2021

As I type this the sun is spliting the stones from a powder blue sky and the few clouds that are visible are the shining white of freshly fallen snow. It’s also rather hot (at least as far as the UK goes) so my time in the garden is limited to the early mornings when the night has bled the worst of the heat out of air and earth and the sun has yet to reset the thermostat level to high. Not that I’m complaining. Not at all. In fact I’m very grateful as the glorious weather has encouraged the flowers to bloom with gay abandon and thus I have many pretty pictures to share with you. The roses in particular are really showing off!

The news that the Good Omens TV series will get a second season – announced at the end of June but only known to me at the start of July thanks to my retreat from the world – has definitely sparked joy. I’m fully aware that many people are concerned about what Season 2 is going to be about given that the first series covered everything that happened in the book (plus a bit more) and I completely understand why however I find myself intrigued and excited rather than worried.

Good Omens has been one of my favourite books since I acquired my first paperback copy back in the early 90’s, is probably my most re-read book ever (I think I’m on my fifth reading copy and I have a small collection of various editions, and my attachment to it didn’t change when I binge-watched the first season of the series when it came out in 2019. I was already a Terry Pratchett fan when I purchased my first copy (that’s why I bought it in the first place) and through it was introduced to Neil Gaiman, which I’ve been very grateful for many times over. I was also fully aware, way before the first clapperboard went down for the series, that Terry had been rather desperate to see the book make the move to screen and, when he knew he wouldn’t live to see it happen, had asked Neil to make his wish come true posthumously. 

Aside from the fact that the TV series seems to me to be the most faithful adaptation book to screen that I’ve ever that the pleasure of setting eyes on, I absolutely adored the TV series because Neil seemed to have read my mind when he wrote the script. The episodes seemed to focus on the parts of the book I loved most, or wanted to see expanded (the cold open in episode 3 taking the crown for best addition), or removed those bits that had been of their time but on re-reading felt mean-spirited in a way that I’m absolutely certain hadn’t been meant when they were penned.

And then there was the way Neil showed the relationship between Crowley and Aziraphale (and the way David Tennant and Michael Sheen played it on screen; credit where credit’s due, they brought the script alive in that context). I freely admit that I was one of the fans who read a depth into their interactions in the book that some people dismissed as ridiculous but Neil made it very clear with this adaptation that I had read what he and Terry had meant to put there. He made the subtext explicit and, as far as I am concerned, made it perfect. What I saw on screen was a love story unfolding, and it was a love story that resonated deeply with me in a way that more traditional romances simply don’t. It gave me another space in which to appreciate the elements of the story I most loved without taking anything away from the book as it was. The dimension I thought I saw was brought vividly to life.

And that, my friends, was a very long winded way of saying that even when talk of a second season was merely talk, I trusted Neil to honour Terry’s voice if a second season happened. I didn’t feel that I needed one and have, in the past, said that I would prefer that we just had the six episodes and nothing more. But that was me failing to remember the maxim by which I usually approach book to film adaptations; nothing anyone can make can take away your relationship with the source material. Season 2 could be dumpster fire and it wouldn’t made the book or Season 1 any the less wonderful. It might disappoint, of course it might, but assuming that it’s bad just because it might be seems a little counterintuitive to say the least. Besides, it’s using material that Terry and Neil discussed and had at one point intended to turn into a sequel called “668 – The Neighbour of the Beast”, it has the blessing of Terry’s daughter Rhianna and, and this is the thing that turned me excitement into full on fever pitch “I want it now goddamit”, Neil has brought John Finnemore on board to write the scripts with him.

Now if you aren’t familiar with John Finnemore and his work I’m about to bring some serious joy into your life; he’s a comedy writer who created my most favourite radio sitcom of all time, Cabin Pressure. If you’ve never heard of it, go seek it out* and consume it with all haste. If you have heard of it, go and re-listen to it now, revel in the jokes that get better with retelling, delight in the fact that knowing how the characters grow through the series makes you appreciate where they started even more, and let your heart be filled with the uplifting humanity of it all that John manages weave through every one of the 26-and-one-more^ episodes.

I realise I don’t often talk about music on here but I really should since I usually have something on in the background whilst I’m having my breakfast and trying to get my brain into gear for the day. For that past couple of weeks I’ve been using Ringlefinch’s debut album on repeat for that purpose and I must heartily commend Tall Tales to you. If you enjoy music from bands like The Lost Cavalry, The Oh Hellos, Run River North and other folk influenced musicians then I’m certain you’ll love this too. It’s fifty six minutes of genuine bliss for the ears and my favourite of the twelve tracks is Making It, which has a moment in it that has a very distinct flavour of The Levellers about it. Bandcamp are helpfully previewing Making It on the Ringlefinch page so head over there to check it out and, if you enjoy it, get a copy for yourself!

Lastly, but by no means leastly, I offer a most relaxing one minute video I took of a pair of swans noodling about in the reeds on the River Tern: 


*Unfortunately I can’t find anywhere legally streaming it for free at the moment but all the series are available on audible and you can buy the compilation CD containing every episode if you don’t mind buying from Amazon, since that’s the only place I could find it when I searched

^there are 27 episodes but 26 & 27 are a two parter with the same title so John prefers to say 26 but I can’t just ignore the fact that it wasn’t broadcast like that!

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