Pat Blythe – Snow….After Life…..and music

I make big plans, a list even, of what I want to write about. Then something forces me to make a sharp right (or left), and I find myself tapping out something completely different on the keyboard. I’d make a lousy novelist, as I can’t seem to stick to one thing. My wildly wandering imagination would take far too my detours. The ending would have absolutely no relation to the beginning! ….and so it begins with today’s offering.

First…..snow!

Find the ski pole…..images of Italy, Newfoundland, Squaw Valley CA & Japan

Had enough? Toronto’s first dump, and it’s as if our memories don’t go any further back than last summer. Those of you who grew up in Southwestern Ontario, particularly the snowbelt area, surely you must remember wading through several feet of snow going back and forth to school. (that folks, is no joke) Snow forts and igloos; snow days that could go on and on; tobogganing down any hill you could find…..and those flying saucers!! Nobody waited for the plows to come out. I could look up and down the street and everyone had enlisted their entire family to shovel out the driveways. We’d even shovel part of the street at the end of the driveway. By the time that was done, most of the road was clear.

Snow…..it came with the territory. Nobody I grew up with spent summers in Florida or Mexico or Costa Rica. Flying south for a vacation was beyond most pocketbooks and wasn’t even a consideration. Those were foreign places. Christmas with palm trees?? (Gasp!) I couldn’t begin to imagine! Coloured Christmas lights, glowing through freshly fallen snow, were magical. The white stuff was always inevitable, even anticipated in winter. Usually starting in November, we waited for that first massive snowfall. We couldn’t get our snowsuits on fast enough, and just like Linus in A Charlie Brown Christmas, we’d run around catching snowflakes on our tongues. Snow angels, snowmen and snowballs; as we got a bit older there was a wee bit of “bumper jumping” (as we called it).

I experienced my first snowfall in Toronto in 1979, wearing anything but the proper footwear. Work was within walking distance and it was such a warm and gloriously sunny day, I decided to don my sexy, peek-a-boo, high-heeled black sandals…..the kind where the multi-coloured ties came halfway up your leg. By the time I finished work, there was at least six inches of the fluffy white stuff on the ground. Needless to say, it was a very interesting walk home! Chris use to call snow “the trade winds from Bogata”. I miss his witty sense of humour.

After Life

A close friend recommended After Life, not once, not twice, but actually three times. I don’t watch a lot of stand-up comedy, and Ricky Gervais was not a name I was familiar with, until my former roommate turned on Humanity. *When it came to the line, “like two plumbs in a sock,” I totally and completely lost it. It was one of those laughs when you can’t stop…..it’s out of control. My stomach never hurt so much. So when After Life was suggested, I wasn’t sure what to expect…..only that it wasn’t a comedy show like Humanity. It was a bit dark, lonely….a bit gloomy. It was about survival.

After Life – Season 1 Trailer

I binge-watched all three episodes over two (or three) nights. It’s very difficult to describe the wild ride and the sudden tidal waves of emotion the show takes you through. It covers them all. Laughter, bitterness, wonder, grossness, repulsion, anger, nostalgia, disgust, beauty, pain…..but the tears….. Like the riotous laughter from Humanity, After Life brought deep, anguished weeping that sometimes wouldn’t stop. For many of us it will stir up many sentiments and feelings we thought long buried. However, Gervais’ sarcastic truthfulness, for which he is famous, cuts through it all, bringing gales of laughter and many nods of “that’s exactly what I was thinking”.

Cast

The actors are perfectly cast. There is not a single one out of place. My favourite is Anne, played by Dame Penelope Wilton. She is a perfect balance for Gervais’ wit and calmly gives as good as she gets. For those of you who watched Downton Abbey, Wilton played the widowed Isobel Crawley, Maggie Smith’s nemesis (and later friend). Everyone is a standout and memorable in their own right. After Life is poignant, and intensely thought provoking, it forces you to think of death, loss, dementia, and of course the force of life.”

Ricky Gervais interview talks about the characters (no spoilers)

 Gervais, who plays the lead character Tony, wrote and produced the series. His performance portraying a grieving widower, beautifully describes the deep, aching anguish one feels when you’ve lost a loved one. The layers of grief are many, and for everyone, the experience is unique. When a partnership with a potential of many years of togetherness ahead is cut far too short, it can leave the “survivor” completely shattered. The depression can be crippling. After Life is a tale of redemption, ending by showing life is really worth living. This is Tony’s story.

By the way, all stories the fictional newspaper covers were inspired by real life local events and narratives.

A taste of some of the music from After Life – all chosen by Ricky Gervais. There are more than 60 songs from an eclectic and wide-ranging group of artists salted throughout all three episodes. All perfect. All beautiful.

Bill Withers – Lovely Day

If These Walls Could Speak – Jimmy Webb

TheThings We Do for Love – 10cc

Threnody – Goldmund

The Wind – Cat Stevens

Hammock – The Silence

Love is the Answer – England Dan & John Ford Coley

Among the Living – The Thorns

We Are More Than We Are – Hammock

Youth – Daughter

Can You Hear Me – David Bowie

*Humanity is on Netflix and my favourite line/part begins at 49:27

Cheers!

=PB=

Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.

dbawis-button7

“Music and photography….my heart, my passions.” After an extended absence —  33 years as a consultant and design specialist in the telecommunications industry — Pat has turned her focus back to the music scene. Immersing herself in the local club circuit, attending the many diverse music festivals, listening to some great music, photographing and writing once again, she is eager to spread the word about this great Music City of ours…..Toronto.

little-red-headed-dancing-girl

Together for 34 years, Pat also worked alongside her late husband Christopher Blythe, The PictureTaker©, who, beginning in the early 70s, photographed much of the local talent (think Goddo, Frank Soda and the Imps, BB Gabor, the first Police Picnic, Buzzsaw, Hellfield, Shooter, The Segarini Band….) as well as national and international acts. Pat is currently making her way through 40 years of Chris’s archives, 20 of which are a photographic history of the local GTA music scene beginning in 1974. It continues to be a work in progress. Oh…..and she LOVES to dance! 

One Response to “Pat Blythe – Snow….After Life…..and music”

  1. Jim Chisholm Says:

    Thanks for the tip on After Life. I watched 5 episodes today.

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