Alone

I recently did something for the first time – I attended the live recording of a radio programme. I am just beginning to realise the many opportunities there are in London to be part of a studio audience – free of charge!

I love a freebie, so I duly went along and sat in the audience for the recording of the final two episodes of the Radio 4 sitcom ‘Alone’ (due to be broadcast in August I believe)

Alone is about five, single, middle-aged neighbours living in a converted North London house who, it seems, can’t get by with or without each other. The episodes were gentle, witty, and perceptive about how we as humans interact with each other in planned or accidental ways. Thinking about this ‘Being interrupted’ is a current theme in contemporary Christian Discipleship! When do we value our private space on our own, or with God, when do we plan time together with other people and when do things just happen and how do all these things interact and what might be the hidden agendas that we should be aware of? I have been greatly influenced by George Lings’ marvellous book ‘7 Sacred Spaces’ which explores some of this in terms of our Christian Discipleship and Christian community life together.

Back to the recording, we weren’t given too many instructions, only encouraged to laugh appropriately to how funny things hopefully would be and to enjoy ourselves. An entire episode was recorded live and then the producer and writer led the cast through a series of re-takes that they had listed. We got there in the end, and I really enjoyed it – great fun and shared with people sitting near me who I didn’t know and we laughed together.

Sitting through the retakes and laughing at lines that I had heard before was something interesting in itself. As I reflect on this now, in one sense there are no re-takes in life just life lived in every moment, and we can’t really change the past. On the other hand, if we are attentive to what it means to be faithful to our calling to follow Jesus, we will also know that change, grace and starting again is always possible in God’s economy of steadfast mercy and maybe you might be in that place right now.

Lots to think about, but one final thought; a big shout out to the producer Gordon Kennedy, who although having a long an illustrious acting career is mainly a writer/producer/director these days. In the audience were a small family group who were enjoying themselves rather too much and were rather too loud and, despite advice to the contrary seemed to want to call out things rather inappropriately. This became a little uncomfortable for the rest of the audience as it dawned on us that for every time they called out it more than likely meant another re-take! What could we do but squirm, some people started to shush but then of course this might be picked up in the recording. An awkward catch-22 situation which just had to be endured as we hoped for the best. Privately we were probably all thinking what it might take for the recording to be halted and for them to be asked to leave. When do you and I feel that a situation is totally out of our control?

And yet… the experienced Gordon Kennedy showed remarkable patience, humour, and perseverance in getting us through it thankfully and I applaud him for that. I look forward to listening to the episodes when they are broadcast. I don’t think I will hear myself as my laughter is somewhat restrained (those who know me have occasionally likened me to Jack Dee!)

Finally, even though life can be extremely tough, and we don’t always feel it I truly believe that I am, we are, never alone (Psalm 27:10b, Matthew 28:20).

Eddie

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