A few weeks ago, I watched ‘The Holiday’. You know the film I mean – Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet are both unlucky in love thirty-somethings who swap lives. Iris (Kate Winslet) goes to LA and Amanda (Cameron Diaz) goes to England and their lives change for the better.
There are many reasons why I love this film. First of all, it defines ‘feel good’. Secondly, it’s a romantic comedy that doesn’t perpetuate old fashioned ideas of what a relationship should be. Both women meet men who are in touch with their emotions, who are not intimidated by their successes and who see them as equals. You end the film feeling like two good, solid matches have been made. Finally, everything about it is visually perfect. Cameron and Kate are leading ladies you’d want to be friends with, the locations are beautiful and the houses in it are stunning… STUNNING!
However, watching ‘The Holiday’ took a nostalgic turn that I wasn’t expecting. I found myself wistful for England and wishing more than anything that I could go join Amanda in living in a cottage in the snow. I wanted to walk through a cute, old world style village and stop for a drink at a local pub. I wanted frosty mornings and a thick coat.
The feeling of missing England stayed with me for weeks. The ideas ‘The Holiday’ put in my mind built up and I even found myself searching for property back home.
But the problem is that the England in ‘The Holiday’ is not the England I know.
Whilst the village Iris lived in is a real village (it’s called Shere and is just as beautiful as you’d imagine, I Googled it), the life I’d go back to is not the life in ‘The Holiday’. Jack and I would have to move to a city to work, so not exactly a quiet, picturesque location like Shere. Besides, cute English villages are few and far between and they are CRAZY expensive to live in.
It’s not just the homes that jar with what I remember, either. I don’t remember the snow being anything other than a nuisance, whereas in ‘The Holiday’ it just makes everything so much more magical. In one scene Jude Law is commuting on a train that’s almost empty. I’ve never seen an empty commuter train in the North of England where I’m from, never mind near London. Iris can afford a gorgeous cottage on a single salary working as a marriage reporter. I’ve seen the house prices in Shere so I can only assume that she won the lottery to be able to afford to live there.
I could list more ‘movie vs reality’ differences, but you get my point. I know that films play on stereotypes and that part of the wonder of cinema is suspending belief, but watching ‘The Holiday’ made me ache for home in a way that I haven’t since last year.
I sometimes think that I have edited England in my mind to be a perfected, cinematic version of what it is. I loved my life in England and think it is a fantastic country, but I have wanted to move abroad from a young age. Australia always called to me. England never felt like it ‘fit’ me, yet one Nancy Myers film had me pining for it.
There’s something strange about the way your mind plays with you when you leave the place you grew up. Everyday locations are romanticised. Things you’d complain about doing or seeing are now top of your wishlist. I’ve never looked at anything through such rose tinted glasses as I now do England.
A part of me feels scared to go home because I don’t think some aspects will match up to the picture I have in my mind, especially when so much of that picture is built around ideas from films like ‘The Holiday’.
Other aspects, like reuniting with family and friends, I hope are even better than I could image.
But the old, quirky brick buildings, the independent boutiques, the picture perfect and not at all annoying snow, the breathtaking scenery – they’re all only a small part of England. My daily reality would be so very different to that which is something I need to remind myself of. Either that or never watch ‘The Holiday’ again, anyway.
Do you ever romanticise the place you live or something from your past?
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