Saga, September 2016
I don’t know whether you’ve seen the Danish family TV saga The Legacy, but I can tell you that a) it’s very good, b) it’s extremely well acted, and c) I would happily screen the first season of it for you if my copy hadn’t, bafflingly, disappeared. I have searched through the DVDs next to the TV. I have searched through the appropriate cupboard. I have lain on the floor to peer underneath sofa, chairs, and TV stand. The thing is, I have some friends staying, and they said they would happily give The Legacy a try, so I started looking. And now I have begun this compulsive no-stone-unturned quest through my house (“But why would it be in the airing cupboard, Lynne? Why?”) nothing can stop me trying to work out where that damn set of discs has got to. Did I lend it to someone? Did I perhaps never own it? The mystery simply obsesses me, and I fear there can be no end to this but death.
The good thing about having an obsessive personality is that you’ve always got something to think about. Part of your brain might be lightly focused on a real-time conversation, or engaged by a complicated classic murder mystery on the TV, but another, deeper, part of your brain is always thinking, “Did I lend it to the woman next door? I bet I lent it to the woman next door!” Personally, I can be obsessive about many things, but I am at my very worst when something is lost, because new inspiration can strike at any time. I break off telephone conversations to look up the chimney, or check down the back of the fridge. I jump out of bed at 4am to drag suitcases out of cupboards and rip open their linings, as if searching for illicit drugs. And remember, this is just in the cause of a missing set of DVDs, which could quite easily be replaced. Imagine if it was something important.
Of course, there is yet another part of one’s brain that says, with quiet authority, “Don’t do this, it’s mad.” It was W.B. Yeats who said that “out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry.” Well, he clearly hadn’t been inside the brain of someone like me, where the highly un-poetic internal quarrel goes something like this:
“Think about something else, for heaven’s sake.”
“I know. I’m trying.”
“Keep following the plot of this excellent Poirot, for example.”
“But I need to look under the stairs!”
“Yes, I know you do. But just wait till the end. Look, he’s already summoned everyone into the restaurant car. Remember, you can control this.”
“But I can’t control this!”
“Yes you can.”
“Yes you can.”
“No! It’s not working! I have to look under the stairs!”
While I’ve been writing this, I have broken off twice to look through all the DVDs next to the TV again, and also to check emails in the hope that there will be evidence that I borrowed the series in the first place (and therefore returned it). But no luck. The friends who are staying are getting a bit cheesed off, I think. When they said they wouldn’t mind watching The Legacy, they didn’t bargain on my repeatedly getting down on all fours to scour the living room for it. They’d have been just as happy watching something else. Instead of having a lovely relaxing weekend, they’ve spend half of it listening to me raving “But it’s got to be somewhere!” and the other half exposed to the unlovely sight of my upturned bottom as I attempt to burrow under the furniture in the living room.