Fun ways to mark ten years, dreaming …

NORTH AND SOUTHRichard Armitage as Mr. Thornton in North & South. Publicity still from the BBC.


I’ve gone on a lot this year about how anniversaries aren’t real dates — they are solely what we make of them. All of the anniversaries the Old Vic Theatre celebrated for the victims at Salem were ten days off. Yesterday would have been my mother’s birthday, but I didn’t think about it much till the evening, when I heard about the picture my nieces made for her, which they posted on the top of the stair case “pointing towards heaven,” as Niece B reported when she called to get the Servetus’ family’s genealogical information for a school report. In general, I support public or community attempts to make meaning, but I’ve become hostile to anniversaries that are mobilized for political purposes or tinged with marketing messages.

Probably the biggest day for me that I had no chance to witness was the day that Richard Armitage was cast as Thornton. It’s a day that I like to think about. How did the day start — and how did he feel by day’s end? Did someone buy him a bottle of sparkling wine to celebrate the news? How long was he caught in shock before the fear kicked in at the mountain he had to climb?

I wasn’t watching on November 14, 2004. But the fact that the series inspired so much passion among its early fans meant that there were huge fan sites for me to find when North & South saved me at second viewing in January 2010. Thank you — Armitage Army.

When I factor out the huge piece of my reaction to the film, the main things I remember are personal details, things that can’t be touched by politics or sales. The darkness of the room. The silence of the house, in a whole sea of snow covered silence at my parents’ house in the Wisconsin winter. The snow falling. The flickering screen. The solitude. Sitting cuddled under the afghan my mother had knitted a decade ago for my father. The feeling of my cheek against the scratchy sofa when I cried, was able to sob for the first time in weeks, and then, gradually, to write, for the first time in approaching two years. The way the button on the remote kept sticking. I remember tiny things that no one cares about, but that for me made up a world around the screen.

So little things that are touching me on this big anniversary. Long-time Armitage fanfic writer womblingfree picked today to reappear with the first chapter of a new North & South fanfic, “Another Time and Place.” Loribear talked about her first view. Armitage Authors Network pops up with a fan letter to Elizabeth Gaskell. Fabo connects seeing the film with solace searched for after her mother’s death. A lot of people, like Mulubinba, have discovered it while they were in extremis in one way or another. Maria Grazia talks about the people whose lives it changed.

And new people come in all the time. Hariclea saw it the first time two weeks ago.

And me? I’ve written tens of thousands of words about it. So many that I won’t link them all here, although if you want to “get” my engagement with this piece, here‘s a good place to start.

I think another post about Mr. Armitage’s effect on me in North & South is coming, too, but this is at least a start.

~ by Servetus on November 15, 2014.

4 Responses to “Fun ways to mark ten years, dreaming …”

  1. I really like your point of view here…. Gives me blissful memories and thoughts… Danke dafür!


  2. I want to thank you and salute Armitage Army!


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