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The Magic of Gobbler’s Knob
Happy Groundhog Day
Hello Dear Reader
Today is Groundhog Day. I didn’t plan to write to you about Groundhog Day but what happened is that I got distracted writing this newsletter. During this protracted distraction, I read the first draft script of the wonderful Bill Murray movie and discovered that it might have been a totally different movie.
If you have seen it, then you will remember that we never know exactly what has caused Phil Connors to repeat February 2nd over and over until he stops being an insufferable dickhead. It could be God, it could be Sonny and Cher - it’s never quite clear. It’s all a wonderful mystery. But in the original script, early on we meet his spurned girlfriend Stephanie who turns to witchcraft the first night Phil is in Punxsutawney to teach him a lesson.
Isn’t it funny how literally putting magic into the movie would have taken all the magic out of it? I’m so glad that the narrative was left well alone. The whole point of magic is that it is magic. There doesn’t need to be a reason for anything - it just is.
I’ve seen the movie many times over the years - and as I change, so what it means to me changes. When I was younger I’d fret about the logistics of it all, the sheer physics involved in repeating a whole universe for just one individual, day after day while at the same time freezing them and everyone else around them in time and space. How would this work, I would wonder? Could it be proof of a parallel universe? How lonely it would it be, to be the only one aware of the nature of that reality and have nobody understand? There was a decade when I thought it was one of the saddest movies ever made.
I think it made me sad because I lacked imagination. Take life too literally and that will happen, I guess. Now as I get older, and the movie of my adolescence has assumed classic status, I feel I finally understand it. And this bit in particular:
PHIL: When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But standing here among the people of Punxsutawney and basking in the warmth of their hearths and hearts, I couldn’t imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter.
What I also love about this film is that every year I glean something new from it. Until today, I completely missed that everyone gathers at Gobbler’s Knob to find out when spring will be. Now isn’t that magic? It is, isn’t it?
Before I leave you pondering the majesty of fortune-telling rodents let me dabble in telling you yours. When I look into my crystal ball, I see lots of your beautiful faces in the audience at The Exchange in Twickenham on March 5th 2023. You are having a wonderful evening listening to me play songs and do a Q&A with the brilliant Gary Crowley and after that, you go off into the night feeling like spring is truly just around the corner. I see your little fingers clicking this link for tickets and being very grateful that you did.
In the meantime, a happy Groundhog Day to you, a belated Happy New Year and a warm welcome to the Year of the Rabbit, and any aliens reading this in preparation for your arrival on earth this year, yes, humans are even weirder than you think they are.
Stay lucky friends.