The things we share . . .

. . . keep us together

Television is great fun as a shared experience. Throughout most of the last half of the 20th century, television was a shared family experience, but now in the 21st the sharing seems to be more amongst tribes. Though Gogglebox seems to have a token family or two sharing their reactions with the rest of the viewing public. And of course, the tribal sharing of any particular televisual feature often overlaps; tribes are very fluid entities.

Some of the rugby tribe that saw their hopes for England’s victory dashed in yesterday morning’s World Cup final against South Africa, for example, might have been nursing their sorrows with a consolatory session of Strictly by the evening. Not many, perhaps, but a few.

The tribe that was glued to Game of Thrones may not have overlapped too much with Ru Paul’s Drag Run, or then again, perhaps there was more than you’d imagine, both shows being all about dressing up. Everyone has their favourite dramas, (World on Fire and Spiral being two of our current interests), and sometimes a shared enjoyment of the previous night’s watching experience can make a little conversation go a long way. So the telly encroaches into our daily lives, beyond its presence in the living room.

But thinking ‘out of the box’ (or maybe we should say, ‘away from the box’), the things that we share locally are also particularly instrumental in creating and maintaining a close-knit community. Anna Harrison has just alluded to that increasing sense of belonging, in her comment about the recent young folks’ rave at the village hall. The May Fair has always been a big cohesive force, much as the annual Tar Bar’l and Fire, or the upcoming Bonfire Night on the 5th, or more recently the Allen Valleys Folk Festival and the Burning Wolf. Perhaps it’s the sharing of experience that compelled the formation and perseverance of the variety of agricultural shows throughout these valleys, even more than the winning of the prizes! A sense of shared ownership in life here. That we’re all in it together.

Worship experiences, too, bring and keep folks together. Shared walks in the countryside, gardening sessions, team sports, even meetings to consolidate the organisation of a shared event, are important sharing activities. And big family events: christenings and dedications; marriages; funerals. The shared experience of the life we all live.

It’s probably true that the opportunities for sharing these experiences are more pervasive, the sharing is more accessible, in the context of a vibrant village life, than say in an anonymous urban environment. In the village, you know other folks, and they know you, while the shared experience in an urban situation may be among a collective of folks mostly unknown to each other.

It might be a bit much to think of the residents of these Allen Valleys as a kind of tribe, but it’s fascinating how tribal the Geordie nation is, identifying themselves by their accents worldwide. When somebody asks me where I come from, I always say Sparty Lea, of course, but they know I’m never local. Still, this valley has been more of a home to me than anywhere else in the world, so I’m very proud to keep proclaiming my residency. Home is where you live, where you share and share alike, after all.

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