Uncle Mick and the Joy of Shared Interpretation
A love letter to my fandom
Being Irish, it is perhaps not surprising that I come from a family of poets. I wish I could claim that I had some of the talent that others on my family tree do, but, sadly it seems to have skipped my generation. Whilst I may not have the flair for words that my mother does, I have inherited her love of them.
I tell you this because of Uncle Mick, the last career poet in the family. He took my mother, his grand-niece, under his wing when he saw her talent and showed her the magic of language. She always speaks fondly of how he discussed literature at length and in detail with her both when she was at school and at university. Which brings us to Keats and the one poem that he revered above all others: Ode to a Nightingale, the poem that is handed down through the generations of my family as the archetype, the ideal example of what you can do with words. He used it to show her and 25 years later she used it, in the very same book that they had poured over together, to show me. Just in case that wasn’t enough to convey its significance to us, when he knew his time had come, Uncle Mick went to his library and sat in his chair with his poetry book. He was found there the next morning, the book open on his lap, his hands stilled while tracing those beloved lines.
So, as you can imagine, that poem has enormous emotional significance for me, the poem I have read more times than I could possibly count, whose genius even I can appreciate. The poem that is as familiar to me as the back of my hand, that is, in many ways, part of me.
Enter Benedict Cumberbatch. Anyone reading has likely had the situation where they absolutely adore something and fervently wish for someone to share that adoration with, for some indication that they are not alone, that others feel the same. I was overwhelmed by that feeling when I heard the track above. He spoke exactly how I would wish to had I but the skill. Every intake of breath, every whisper, every sigh. It was perfect. For the first time, I felt like I wasn’t listening to a recitation of a poem, I was listening to a monologue coming to life and it was glorious. I listened to it on repeat for a week. I still listen to it regularly even now.
Where am I going with all of this you ask? These past few days I have been reading a lot of opinions on Sherlock, many of which differ from my own interpretations. I have enjoyed it greatly, even when I didn’t see eye to eye. Hearing the interpretations of others is always an eye-opening experience, forcing you to examine your own ideas and preconceptions, which can only be a good thing. I like to be kept on my toes.
Right now however, I am addressing those people who share my views. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart because before entering this fandom I always felt alone. Appreciating from afar, in silence, while in my head I was bursting with the desire to shout it from the rooftops and have someone respond “I know. Me too.” Benedict’s Ode to a Nightingale was my first glimpse of what it could be like, but here I have found so much more than that.
Everyone who I tagged in this post has played no small part in maintaining my sanity over the last two weeks and I have loved reading what you had to say. So, thank you all. I look forward to spending the hiatus with you as I could not possibly be in better company.