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Watching Birdsong With Mother

birdsong bbcOn Sunday night I attempted to watch Birdsong, which is a new BBC drama, with my Mum. It’s an adaptation of a novel by Sebastian Faulks which you may or may not know – that’s not important. What is important is that it’s quite a serious and sad old story, or at least it would be if you didn’t have a running commentary from the person next to you.

Here’s the trailer for the two-part series:

and here’s my Mum’s monologue. She did stop for breathing time now and then, but mostly she just talked through it.

OK, press play. Press play! Where’s my wine? Oh it’s there. Where’s the cat? Oh Mr Bear! What are you doing Mr Bear? Don’t go to sleep, I won’t let you sleep you naughty little kitten!

[Pause for opening credits]

Why is that man singing? Oh my God, it’s awful. I hate Sebastian Faulks – I haven’t liked a single thing he’s written, not even Endleby.

[Me: It’s Engleby. Please be quiet.]

[Enter Eddie Redmayne]

OH MY GOD! What’s wrong with his lips? Why are they so huge? Is there something wrong with them? Hold on – what’s wrong with her lips? Why have they both got such strange lips?

Oh, he’s a solider now. In the war. He looks better as a soldier.

She doesn’t look old enough to have those children.

[I agree]

Look how many moles she has on her face. She has so many moles! Now he has loads of moles, it’s like they’re infectious! The moles are spreading!

[Clemence Poesy takes off her brassiere]


[Almost falls of chair. Mother, not Clemence Poesy.]

She is absolutely COVERED in moles! Oh, they’re going to have sex. Ugh. UGH.

[Me: general murmurs of agreement that the sex is rather unnecessary. We are prudish!]

What is he doing to her? Oh that is not necessary! Against a tree? There are people behind in the background, look!

[Both of us shout at TV: THERE’S SOMEONE BEHIND YOU!]

[Cut to trenches, WW1, bombs going off and people getting shot.]

Oh dear. He’s dead now.

[Me: I bet he’s not.]

No, look, they’re burying him.

[Me: then what would the second part be about? I bet he’s alive and his eyes will flicker as they start to dig his hole.]

No, he’s definitely dead.

[Me: he’s alive. I bet you anything.]


[Redmayne’s eyes flicker at the last moment.]

[Both: HE’S ALIVE!]

[End credits.]

Mum: that was rubbish.

[Me: watch it next week?]


So. If you missed the first part, there’s a quick summary for you – and a spoiler, of course! Should have warned about the spoiler before I started, really…

*disclaimer: I’d like to point out that none of the above opinions are mine – Eddie Redmayne and Clemence Poesy are both “proper lookers”, neither are that freckly/moley and Redmayne’s lips are a thing of wonder. He once lay on my couch, and that’s all I’ll say about the matter…. My Mum heckles just about anything that isn’t Friends or Lark Rise to Candleford!

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  1. Flipping heck Ruth, that was wee your pants funny! Brightened up my day :)

  2. I nearly fell off the chair laughing, that’s hilarious! My mom is exactly the same except she tends to talk herself to sleep, wakes up 10 minutes later and complains that it just doesn’t make sense, who is this supposed to be?? Why can’t they introduce a new character properly?? Still love watching TV with my mom though…

  3. Brilliant post! I hope your MA writing is coming along well and that you publish a novel or a collection of short stories at the end of it–you really a a natural writer. And–I know you said you weren’t going to embellish–but Eddie Redmayne on your couch?! Good lord. What a gorgeous man. Lucky you!

  4. Despite his boyish look (I usually go for a more manly look) I really fancy that Eddie redmayne. He reminds me of a an older mikey from the goonies who I also had a crush in at 9.

  5. Squeeeeeeek!!!! That’s SO funny!!! Like a scene from my lounge when Downton Abbey is on – with my hubby and son doing the part of your Mum! (ie ‘How come she’s so flat chested’? ‘How can she get into bed with HIM – hope they’re paying her enough’ …. you get the picture. Hilarious!

  6. hahaha!!! I love it!
    My husband does a similar thing, but his his technicsl stuff ( mostly) i.e. “well that would NEVER happen because…blah blah blah “..drives me nuts!

    must catch up on this series tho


  7. That was funny!
    I didn’t see it.
    Now I don’t have to
    But what I want to know is…
    … what did Mr Bear think of it? :) xx

  8. It’s a mother’s job to be annoying. I know I annoy my daughter all the time (and get told off by her, for it). But, you see, my daughter knows everything, has done since she was about 11! Maybe she wanted to have some catch time with you, Ruth? .. Love to hear your Mum’s version LOL :D xx

    • @Mel aw, it didn’t annoy me, I found it amusing enough to write about it! Mum’s version would probably be very similar except she’d say that I talked all the way through, not her! Hahaha…

  9. what we really want to know is Did Mr Bear Fall Asleep !!!???

  10. Ha! That is funny. But I do recommend the book…I even cried at it (we did it in school). But don’t read on the train. The sex bits are WRIGGLEY CRINGESOME.

  11. Ha! That is spot on what would happen at my house with MY mother. I’m dying laughing.

  12. Brilliant! Too funny. Put me on the side of “prudish” as well, if prudish means sverting one’s eyes when superfluous scenes of tongue-swallowing, face-gnawing, slurping kissing are injected into an otherwise straightforward story – often accompanied by gyrating simulations of steaming intercourse. Funny how they usually emerge from the sheets with bra and panties on. In any case, my question is “Why?!” Can’t we simply enjoy the show and leave the rest to our imagination?

    Anyway – clever blog. Thanks for the grins!

  13. Hilarious! I think you and your Mum are positively wonderful together. Enjoy each other as much as you can.

  14. Lol genius. Now I have to see it… :D

  15. Hahahahaha! I laughed all the way through. Thanks Ruth for reporting it. Now, if your mom were to write her side of the story on her blog, that would be great! Just an idea…

  16. Hilarious and worrying at the same time – I think my commentary was scarily similar to your mothers! All those freckles were wildly distracting and as for Eddie going down and dirty…

  17. Hilarious! That is exactly what its like to watch anything with my parents too.
    I thought Birdsong was so good, and i was thinking the exact same things through that episode as you and your mum. Nothing wrong with it, but they were both very freckly/moley. I dont think I could have watched that with my mother though, I wouldn’t have known where to look when the sex scenes came on!

  18. Brilliant – my Mom to a ‘T’ as well! (Except my Mom likes the naughty bits – but don’t tell her I told you!).

  19. I might watch this on the iPlayer tonight.

    I’ll count Clemence Poesy’s moles – instead of my usual sheep – to drift to sleep… ;0)

    Sarah x

  20. Eddie: HOT
    Clemence: HOT

    But that transcript was hilarious!! I wiki-ed the story and I’m not looking forward to the second part though :(

  21. we just watched this on iplayer: very uncomfortable sex scenes!

  22. HAHA totally want to watch this after that commentary, try watching black swan with my mum- horrendously awkward with the lesbian scene ‘why is she doing that to her emily’ i just had to pretend to be on my phone basically throughout the whole movie.

  23. oh my he really does have strange lips. he`s scaring me.

  24. LOL! I think I need to watch this at yours, hilarious! Thankfully, I watched it alone- it would have been seriously awkward with my mum :D I haven’t read the book, but it looks interesting- although I have a feeling I’ll hate Clemence Posey’s character later (is it me or does she seem a little….I don’t know- Odd? Strange?)….

    • @Saara yes, I too am very suspicious about her character.. I think I may read the book AFTER watching, the wrong way round! x

  25. yes, well … let’s just say he also *ahem* seems to think that speed is an asset.

  26. Imagine watching it with your dad, a whole new level of cringe :S

  27. @Ruth My mother blames this approach on a pre-Cosmo age (as I die of embarrassment)

  28. Nono you gotta read the book after watching, because if you read the book before watching then all the way through it’s ‘Well they missed that part, I didn’t think that character looked like that, that bit never happened, etc.’ Or at least that’s what I do. I’m picky though :P

  29. Thanks for sharing this! Too funny…and rather true.
    hehhe…at least when I watch movies with my dear mother.

  30. This is hilarious! I don’t know if you guys have Saturday Night Live in the UK, but, this would be perfect as a skit. I found the bit about the moles most hilarious of all. Please write others just like it!!

  31. I hope you realize that we will all riot if we don’t get next week’s installment now, word for word. Your mum sounds like so much fun:)

  32. Hi Ruth! They just premiered “Birdsong” in the US last night. I was glued to the TV watching it. Eddie Redmayne is quite the leading man. Gosh, he’s such a wonderful actor. I loved the first installment. Part two airs next Sunday, but I couldn’t wait and I found it on Youtube. Stayed up till 1AM to finish watching it. It was so sad, romantic, and tragic. Now I want to read the book. But throughout the movie, I kept remembering this blog post you wrote back in Jan. It made me crack-up. Eddie Redmayne was on your sofa? Wish you would share the back-story!

  33. And HER lips, too….that little “cereal bowl” thing between the mouth and nose. What is that body part called? I kept looking to see if hers caught airborne particles, like belly buttons create lint. It was just “distracting,” as your Mum pointed out.


  34. “PHILTRUM” that indention between the lip and nose. It was a tie as to whose face was more distracting. His bee-stung lips and freckles or her moles and PHILTRUM.

    So, I’m wondering, if her mouth gets really popular, will plastic surgeons start scooping our deep PHILTRUMS above people’s mouths, to create really dramatic, exaggerated Cupid’s Bow pouts like Clemence’s?

    Oh…they are already doing it?

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