Okay, so I watched most of the last episode of Cold Feet last night. I didn't mean to – I haven't seen much more than about 10 minutes of the whole of the previous five seasons. I don't know who the characters are, or what their storylines have been, and I still can't remember most of their names even after watching the episode. It's the sort of programme that I usually don't think much of – groups of 30somethings having babies and relationship crises are generally a pretty good way to get me to turn over. And there was some fairly clunky manipulation of characters in order to get the 'right' endings for them all. But the writing grabbed me and I got hooked within seconds of accidentally hitting it while channel hopping.
What got me was the depiction of grief – six characters reacting in different ways to the death of a seventh. If some of the main plot arcs were clumsy (so much effort put into breaking up a marriage out of nowhere in half an episode) the little details really worked. In particular, when the bereaved character (Adam, was he called?) kept phoning home so he could hear his dead wife's voice on the answerphone – I must admit that tears were running down my face at that point. And that has to be down to good writing triggering some sort of universal response, 'cause I didn't give a stuff about the characters. (Also I'm sentimental about answerphones since September 11th – I was crying my eyes out for days at work at the Indy with having to read transcripts.)
Now, I'm writing a TV screenplay at the moment (as you'll know if you read the last entry) so I'm more interested in this than I normally would be. I've got high hopes for my work – perhaps too high – because I know, and always have known, that I can write fiction. I'm just normally too damn lazy to ever try and make money from doing it. Also when you work in journalism, as I used to, it kills your enthusiasm for extracurricular writing in the same way that working in a shop stops you enjoying retail therapy. So I'm pretty pleased with myself to be actually writing at last. And it goes without saying that I think what I'm producing is pretty good.
But I very much doubt whether I could make someone cry with my writing, and that's given me pause to think. Maybe it doesn't matter, because I can make people laugh instead. But maybe it does matter. Confidence is good but overconfidence is a killer. One of them took a knock last night from watching Cold Feet – I just don't know which.