Reel life in lockdown: My kids found the colour through the smoke machine

In spite of everything, there has been something incredible about the raw production of this year

It feels as though we’re waiting for the credits to roll on this maddening year as the new year rocks in with deflated balloons and leftover cheese and crackers from Christmas.

It’s like the movie is just about to end, and we can’t fully believe we sat through the whole thing for how bloody awful it all was.

But this story isn’t over.

We’re on a goddamn cliffhanger and the new year rings in the next instalment with the same tension and trepidation we’ve been used to for the past God knows how many months. You won’t sell a story to me based on a cliffhanger, especially one we have all been so frenetically invested in with the only spoilers being vague conspiracy theories. But there is more hope in the sequel with a definitive ending seemingly on the horizon for our worn out hero.


Part two is being sold as a new beginning with the obvious mountain to climb first. There are always mountains. Large, looming, dark and treacherous cliffs as the hero braces against biting winds to save the day using only a Swiss army knife to get himself through. Miraculous, and I don’t believe in miracles.

But even though I have wanted to fast forward through this badly produced and poorly directed year, the kids have remained poised on the edge of their seat to see what would happen

And yet, I have no doubt the day will be saved at some stage through this would-be cinematic feat, but I’m also apprehensive about how the story will play out and just how long it will run for. Mostly for our kids who sit in their own little PG version of our world with expectations thwarted by disappointment. We have sat on the rewind button as promise after promise was emptied and we had no choice but to go back on our word by hitting pause. And we effed and blinded at this desperately written segment of our children’s lives.

Fast forward

But even though I have wanted to fast forward through this badly produced and poorly directed year, the kids have remained poised on the edge of their seat to see what would happen. Invested in their own specific way to the characters and events. For them, there has always been something good brimming on the surface of the subplot.

The subplot being us.

Our little unit wrapped in real bubbles as the kitchen basin was brought outside and the Fairy did more than wash the dishes. They haven’t been interested in the big baddies, the politics, the twists and turns, setbacks and triumphs; but rather have kept their focus on the crazy, unskilled cinematography we rustled together against the backdrop of our own gardens, living rooms, and front doors. There has been something incredible about the raw production of this year.

Production values

Somewhere towards the middle of this epic tale, my interest moved to that middle ground and I started to watch the PG version the kids were so engrossed in. There were a few more songs, a lot more dancing and plenty of colour outside of the version we were all watching on our screens. The fear, anxiety and difficulties the protagonist wrestled with on that cliff edge were dull in comparison to the score sung by our kids who did what was natural to them. They found the colour through the smoke machine. Although, they certainly had to sing loud and paint the set bright. And that did not always work for them either as we all became disillusioned by the production values.


But even though this year was effectively cancelled, it was brought back from time to time amid reruns of everything and anything which, for me, resembled the 1980s. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing considering I am a child of the 80s and have fond memories of 99s, roller-skates and bike rides on semi-silent streets. When staycations were a thing before the word entered the dictionary. I honed the skills of my parents as they raised us in a damning recession, finding the value in time, connection and a cupboard full of board games. I revisited those memories of what were always considered simpler days with a distinct lack of expectation. Metaphorically sticking a piece of Sellotape over that little hole in the VHS tape, we recorded our own memories under the auspices of a time long gone. Slower days in technicolor where the ordinary rules were rewritten or scrapped altogether as the writers, namely the kids, rewrote the story as we took their lead, relearnt our lines and paid more attention to the subplot.

If we can, when the credits roll on this story and the next instalment starts to play out, pay a little more attention to the subplot – it may make for a very interesting new year. Because it was definitely the subplot that got me through this one.

And soon enough it will have a franchise of its own once again.