As I was realising that I was risking a Lucas North overdose I decided this week to change subject of study in my PhD on RA and mix Lucas with one of the “Johns”. I don’t think that I will be very original with my post, as I assume that this character have been talked, debated and analised so much that what you will read in these lines can’t be considered a novelty (exception made of the autobiographical note at the end of the post on the story of my favourite mug).
Which would be the result of mixing a Lucas North with a John Standring? Maybe a Richard Armitage? I don’t know but, what I am sure is that John S. is another candidate for the podium of preferred chaRActers. I guess that this podium, when I finish my studies in the object of our admiRAtion, will be quite crowded if I go on like this. But… is it possible to resist to John Stranding? No way.
John is completely different to any of Richard’s tv characters that I have seen so far (check the enclosed list); he is the common hero, the good everyday man, the quiet man. He can be considered an ordinary chap, the meek gutless guy, but he is the rough diamond of the story and the bravest of them all. In the triangle formed with Carol and Andrew, he is the only one that doesn’t move elsewhere, but stays, solid like the hills, patient as the landscape. His first heroic gesture is not to leave Carol’s father alone, although he has been fired and has a work elsewhere. The way Richard performs this role is absolutely outstanding; I have used an expression to define his countenance in the scene in which Carol refuses his Christmas’ present: “majestically unmajestical”.
John can be shy or clumsy, but the main trait of his character is his dignity. Richard transmits this, even when his head is almost buried in his shoulders, when he is not capable even to raise his eyes to talk with Carol, when he blushes and stammers. Richard has been able to summarise John Standring’s character with a single gesture, that awkward and clumsy way of holding Carol’s hands. I wonder if that gripping came in a natural way during shooting or if it was deliberately studied before; I will add it to the list “million-things-to-ask-RA-if-I-had-him-for-myself-a-whole-afternoon”.
The character of John, during the three chapters, experiences a transformation that goes beyond a simple haircut; nevertheless, we see during the very first apparition of John an advance of how the “new John” will be. When he is bandaging Carol’s burned hand he has for a moment the same fierce expression he will have almost at the end of the series, when Andrew’s father calls asking where his son is. His sixth sense alerts him that Andrew Lawton is a menace for Carol and the sight of her blistered hand awakes his instinct to protect her.
Therefore, the thing to do if I want to warm my heart in cold winter nights is to switch my laptop on, fill my favourite mug with hot tea (Earl Grey, without sugar nor cream), put my flowerly blanket on my knees and sigh watching John Standring.
The other protagonist of this post is my favourite mug. I bought it in London, in a tiny gift shop inside Covent Garden. It was 1998, the year Richard was graduating from LAMDA. I took this picture that afternoon, it was on Saturday and, as you may see, those were the days before low-cost flights. When I returned there last May there was such a crowd in Covent Garden that, seen from St. Paul’s Church portico, it seemed an ant hill.
Sixteen years have passed since I took these pictures and, as usually happens when reflecting about my life (I forgot to add the tag “me, myself & I” to this post, I will do it right now), I often wonder if I have lived it well. Few things have changed in it since I was with my very best friend taking a drink in the Embankment; I work in the same place, I have married the man I started to date precisely two days before that trip, I’ve lost a father, I’ve moved twice. Definitively a more ordinary life than that of the young man that graduated from Arts School that year and who maybe was drinking
a beer a glass of wine in Covent Garden while I was buying a mug.