I am grateful to the various people who recommended ‘What We Did On Our Holiday’ for family viewing (maybe teenage family viewing) over Christmas. It’s not new (it was released in 2014), but seemed to pass me by despite starring Billy Connolly. The parents (played by David Tennant and Rosamunde Pike) take their three children to Scotland for a family weekend to celebrate what is likely to be their grandfather’s last birthday. If you liked Outnumbered, you’ll love this, although thirty-forty minutes in, it becomes a lot more poignant than a sitcom, but maintains its humour throughout.
The brightest moments for me are the conversations between the grandfather and the eldest grandchild Lottie, who understands much more about what’s going on. Lottie is annoyed with her parents and their constant bickering, and while Connolly’s character identifies with her situation, he responds with his own experience, “I suddenly realised there was no point in being angry with people I loved for being what they are.” After humorously summarising the faults of several family members he concludes, “Every human being on this planet is ridiculous in their own way.”
You can watch the clip here (though there’s a little bit of a spoiler in this scene, should you want to watch the whole thing.)
This is the thought tumbling over in my head going into the new year. Yes, other people should be taken seriously, yes, there are things wrong with the world worth taking a stand for, but no matter how hard we try to face the world pretending we have it all together, the truth is, each of us is, in some way, ridiculous, and uniquely so.
I know he’s not to everyone’s taste, but Billy Connolly has long been a hero of mine, and the sheer nonsense we get up to has been a central theme in Connolly’s stand up for decades. Life is not meaningless, we have the capacity to inflict enormous pain on one another as well as enrich each others’ lives with our endless capacity for love, joy and kindness, but so much of our lives are steeped in absurdity: cursing the traffic, choosing our clothes, changing our look, updating décor that doesn’t need changed, worrying about what others think of us, worrying about dying young, worrying about getting old, worrying about each other, getting attached to objects then becoming upset over their loss. We have created a thousand ways to cry over spilled milk. I think it might be healthy, at all times, somewhere in the back of our minds to remember how faintly ridiculous we are and to laugh at ourselves more often.