It’s a delicious and delightful program. Have you ever seen it?
Episode One opens with two beautifully dressed, precocious teenage cousins being chased down by their father/uncle through the woods. He is on a horse, with barking dogs in tow, fox hunt-style… They are being chased FOR FUN. They like it. They collapse amongst the undergrowth against a tree, giggling and out of breath, when he finally catches up with them.
Terrifying-yet-thrilling. Class A larking about.
Later the cousins lower their friend Polly into a well, in the rain, mud abounding to look for jewels lost in a tragic tryst. Polly almost gets lost down the well, amidst the messing about, but it ends okay and they have hot tea soon after. I can confirm that (spoiler) the rope does NOT break.
Later still, an even larger collection of cousins huddled in the attic, talking about how privileged they all are and the benefits of wicked mothers, via candle light.
Look, basically there is a LOT of mucking about. Mucking about is key.
After that, I watched the (twinning!) Great Pottery Throw Down. (I was sick on the weekend, hence much watching.) It might not seem to be much like Love In A Cold Climate, but it is in that there is a lot of messy, edge-of-seat pot throwing with the same irreverent, risk-taking mood of the Mitford classic.
Giggling features, disasters happen, explosions, colour, it’s muddy, really, parallels abound.
That got me thinking about other mucking about – The Famous Five and The Secret Seven and Swiss Family Robinson and Danny The Champion of the World’s sausages cooking in a little caravan in the woods, pre-poaching expedition/policeman visit. Pippi Longstocking, even.
Sigh. Fuzzy feels.
I remembered with fondness the stories of soggy gumboots, the messing about in boats, the beacons from distant coves and the speedily-packed picnic baskets unpacked in leafy clearings. The gentler adventurous bits got me hooked on the mucking-about ideal.
My own childhood was packed full of dam exploring, reedy ponds, blackberry scrapes, cliff climbs, fish flopping, crab hunting, fire building, treehouse assembling, wildflower picking, echidna cuddling goodness.
The things that makes mucking about so great are things like irreverence, risk, trial and error, surprise, creativity, humour, time and vulnerability.
(I don’t mean the confessional kind of mid-life-lady self-aware vulnerability we hear about so much now in self-help-y circles, either. I mean the other kind of vulnerability, the kind where people are doing things on the fly – possibly with mud or gumboots or giant raindrops plonking on heads or a flip-flopping fish in a bucket – and they forget to consider themselves because they’re so caught up in the moment that you get to see their unbridled realness.)
As an adult, I admit, I am talking the talk with this messing about ideal, but rarely walking the walk.
Mucking about adventures are pretty few and far between and picking through the puddles in the reserve at the end of our street is about as close as it comes to messing about, at least for now.
While my creative leanings give me lots of opportunity for mini adventures, in the form of unexpected ideas or surprises, it’s really not quite the same thing…
There aren’t flip-flopping fish, for starters. Hm.
I wonder if what we might really need (you? me!), in this quite sanitised age of digital, decluttered, streamlined, self-aware, follower-facing life, if what we really need is an unbridled, naff, kind of Muck It Up Club? Something that doesn’t need to be witnessed or recorded or documented or strategised, but just experienced (flip flopping fish or not!)?!
Maybe the muck it up is part of why people love messy and exhausting events like The Colour Run or Tough Mudder?
To be clear, this kind of ‘fitness themed’ mucking about is a skewed version of the kind of mucking I’m talking about. But maybe there are parallels?
The kind of mucking about that seems good to me is done without any health or audience-facing or philanthropic endeavours in mind.
Instead, it’s done for the total heck of it and for no lofty purpose or ultimate goal – apart from doing fun stuff together with friends or family.
The benefits of this? Getting to know each other in deeper, more dorky ways. Allowing time for exploration, innovation, dumb jokes, idle chats, daydreaming, unscheduled creative fun. Possibly that actually is lofty, but in an accidental and unpredictable way… My favourite kind of loft. #nice
How about you, reader?
Have you been mucking around?
Are the kids you know mucking around?
What has happened to mucking around guys?!
image source: Swallows and Amazons