Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"56 Up": Real life. Real stories.

I just watched a very poignant PBS program which I found to be simultaneously uplifting and depressing.  (How very PBS, Non?) The documentary was called “56 Up" and focused on a group of individuals who have been interviewed every seven years for their whole lives.  The participants are now all fifty-six years old.  Apparently this documentary has been out for simply ages, but I’ve missed it up until now. 

Here’s the blurb:
"Give me the child until he is seven and I will give you the man." Starting in 1964 with Seven Up, The UP Series has explored this Jesuit maxim. The original concept was to interview 14 children from diverse backgrounds from all over England, asking them about their lives and their dreams for the future. Every seven years, renowned director Michael Apted, a researcher for Seven Up, has been back to talk to them, examining the progression of their lives.

The stories play out beautifully-- artfully, like some true-to-life Truman show.  Some of the individuals in the documentary have had lives filled with opportunity and good fortune, others have had disappointments, sorrow and hard times. All offer candid insights into their thoughts and feelings about the hand life has dealt them.
I was truly moved.

How could that lovely, charismatic smiling boy dancing about so joyfully in his short pants at the age of seven have had a life of homelessness, self-doubt and despair?  The boy is now a man, and incidentally a writer, and mused that no-body has ever read anything he has written.  When the interviewer called his writing a “gift,” the man laughed ruefully, and said, “Perhaps.  But it shouldn’t be like masturbation.”  Sigh.  Someone get that poor, dear man a blog. 

I found myself reflecting upon my own forty-seven years as I watched the program.  Musing on bad Eighties perms and other regrettable choices made.  The gift of hindsight makes us all the best of prophets, don’t it?  Who would I be without the choices I’ve made? Where would I be if I had gone the other way; bought the other ticket; said “Yes” instead of “No”?

 It was just what the Mid-Life-Crisis doctor ordered. 

I guess the reason I chose to share this with you is because as writers, I think you might find the stories told to be profound, in the way only real life can be.  Better than anything I could ever make-up. 

Real life.  It’s the stuff great stories are made of.


Here’s the link to watch it for free on PBS.
Up 56 link.


  1. Life takes its own turns, no matter how well we plan. Too many variables.

  2. Ooh, I should watch that. Sounds fascinating. And as someone who just turned fifty, I feel you on the mid-life crisis. Whether I want to or not, I can't help reflecting on where I am and where I wish I were in certain contexts of my life. Some days are better than others, as they say. :)

  3. They say real life is stranger than fiction, meaning few could have come up with the real paths those people took.
    I'm almost fifty, but fortunately hit my mid-life crisis early. My wife told me to buy a sports car. I did.

  4. How nice to see the nut-tree in full swing again! They say that art imitates life, and that documentary seems to demonstrate it. I think of moments in my life when I took a turn that (I thought at the time) was a turn for the worse but which, looking at things again, led me to a place where I was happy. That poor man... Get him a blog, as you said!

    Diana at About Myself By Myself

  5. I'm so glad the nut-tree is in full foliage...and I'm 56...something I needed on a gray day with drizzle...sunshine...and yes..the man needs a blog.

  6. I saw this and found it fascinating, although sometimes it was like watching a car wreck -- I didn't want to, but just had to look.

  7. I might check out that link one of these days. It sounds like it could be a thought-provoking documentary.

    I don't think anyone could ever know 110% for sure what the future holds for them if they go with Plan A over Plan B. So rather than challenge our Past Selves for choosing what we'd chosen, I think we should look for the gems of wisdom we picked up along the way. You're right to refer to hindsight as a gift, Jill. Be thankful you have it because not everyone does!

  8. What I meant to say was "rather than challenging our Past Selves..."

  9. Truth? Want the truth? PBS is a wholly submissive, subsidiary of the homo'BOMBa, LEFT-wing-NWO. Lemme fill-you-up withe avant-gardeness necessary to achieve Seventh-Heaven, dear...

    Would you puh-leeze help a 'Plethora Of Wurdz' which are look'n for a new home in your novel? Whew. Thanx!! You're the best in the west!!

    Q: Can anyone tell me the difference between K2 and IQ? A: Nthn. In Seventh-Heaven, we gitt'm both for eternity HawrHawr Need a few more thots, ideers, raw wurdz or ironclad iconoclasms? Voila!!

    VERBUM SAT SAPIENTI: As an ex-writer of the sassy, savvy, schizophenia we all go through in this lifelong demise, I just wanna help U.S. git past the whorizontal more!ass! we're in (Latin: words to [the] wise)...

    "This finite existence is only a test, son," God Almighty told me in my coma. "Far beyond thy earthly tempest is where you'll find tangible, corpulent eloquence". Lemme tella youse without d'New Joisey accent...

    I actually saw Seventh-Heaven when we died: you couldn't GET any moe curly, party-hardy-endorphins, extravagantly-surplus-lush Upstairs (in [the] end without end -Saint Augustine) when my beautifull, brilliant, bombastic girly-girl passed-away due to those wry, sardonic satires.

    "Those who are wise will shine as brightly as the expanse of the Heavens, and those who have instructed many in uprightousness as bright as stars for all eternity" -Daniel 12:3, NJB

    Here's also what the prolific, exquisite GODy sed: 'the more you shall honor Me, the more I shall bless you' -the Infant Jesus of Prague.

    Go gitt'm, girl. You're incredible. See you Upstairs. I won't be joining'm in the nasty Abyss where Isis prowls
    PS Need summore unique, uncivilized, useless names? Lemme gonna gitcha started, brudda:

    Oak Woods, Franky Sparks, Athena Noble, Autumn Rose, Faith Bishop, Dolly Martin, Willow Rhodes, Cocoa Major, Roman Stone, Bullwark Burnhart, Magnus Wilde, Kardiak Arrest, Will Wright, Goldy Silvers, Penelope Summers, Sophie Sharp, Violet Snow, Lizzy Roach, BoxxaRoxx, Aunty Dotey, Romero Stark, Zacharia Neptoon, Mercurio Morrissey, Fritz & Felix Franz, Victor Payne, Isabella Silverstein, Mercedes Kennedy, Redding Rust, Phoenix Martini, Ivy Squire, Sauer Wolfe, Yankee Cooky, -blessed b9 (or mixNmatch)...

    God blessa youse
    -Fr. Sarducci, ol SNL


Please use your words and comment freely! We really should meet!