Day #316/365: The Detectorists; a gentle roaming in search of the troves left by men who can never sing again

  • The Detectorists-BBC-Mackenzie Crook-Toby Jones-A Year In The Country
    File under: Trails and Influences: Touchstones. Case #39/52.

    I somewhat appreciated The Detectorists series which was sent forth via the nation’s airwaves by the venerable British Broadcasting Corporation.

    Its premise is the lives and study of a pair of metal detectorists and their woeful but really rather sweet passions.

    In some ways it restored my faith in homegrown television or at the very least was a glint of light. I can’t quite say why but there was a subtle intelligence, an astute observing of the ways and wiles of people, a love of the land and country (but which stepped nowhere near little island-isms)…

    …there’s a sadness portrayed in its characters lives but not in a maudlin or the sometimes grim and grit default setting of modern (once) cathode ray tales; again it’s shown with great love and affection – a portrait of people just trying to make the most of things, of people trying to add some magic to their lives…

    The Detectorists-BBC-Mackenzie Crook-Toby Jones-A Year In The Country-2

    …and in this instance that involves quietly, contemplatively walking the land, hoping that their modern-day divination rods will catch a reflection of treasures buried beneath the earth or maybe just the occasional scattering from those troves, echoes from the lives of men who can never sing again.

    (In a way it seemed to be a part of a lineage that stretched back to the likes of Fawlty Towers; one of those times when mainstream entertainment/comedy somehow manages to escape forth into the world without being neutered.)

    The series is written and directed by Mackenzie Crook, who also appears as one of the main detectorists… alongside Straw Bear companion and sometime Berberian Sound engineer Toby Jones, whose work and wanderings seem quietly (that word again) scattered here and there throughout this particular year in the country.

    The Detectorists-BBC-Mackenzie Crook-Toby Jones-Johnny Flynn-A Year In The Country

    The main title song is by Johnny Flynn and reflects the gentle roaming of the series somewhat perfectly. Lilting would seem to be a somewhat apposite word…

    Will you search through the lonely earth for me,
    Climb through the biar and bramble.
    I’ll be your treasure.

    I felt the touch of the kings and the breath of the wind,
    I knew the call of all the song birds.
    They sang all the wrong words.
    I’m waiting for you,
    I’m waiting for you.

    Will you swim through the briny sea for me,
    Roll along the ocean’s floor.
    I’ll be your treasure.

    I’m with the ghosts of the men who can never sing again,
    There’s a place follow me.
    Where a love lost at sea.
    Is waiting for you.
    Is waiting for you

    (As an aside, the song puts me in mind of Penda’s Fen and seems to connect and draw lines to/with stories that roll through and from the land and history.)

    Lovely stuff. Both the series and the song. Tip of the hat to all concerned. Thanks.

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    Listen to The Detectorists here. Reach into the old pockets for a more permanent version via Transgressive Records here.

    Visit Mr Mackenzie Crook and his curation of an exhibition no-one visits here.

    Visit tales of the finding of such collections here and in more permanent form here.

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