May 18, 2010

The Upside of Murder

Late last week little things were getting to me. Maybe it was because I had been incredibly tired and dragging myself around, or maybe because it had been a bit hot and my feet and hands were doing their seasonal swelling, which irritates me, too. At any rate, I almost broke down when my husband went to take the lawn mower out on Saturday and discovered a little pink bicycle in our shed in the back yard.

"Whose bike is this?" he called out.

"What bike?" I called back from inside the house.

"There is a pink bicycle in our shed and it looks like someone rode it who was way too big for it, and now the wheels are completely warped."

We asked our kids and none of them knew anything about it, so it appears as though someone, probably some kid that knows we have a shed in our backyard, ruined the bike and then stashed it in our shed. First of all, the fact that some little girl is now without her bike, which is ruined, bothers me, and second, the fact that someone was prowling around our house in the dead of night or when we were not at home bothers me. Thoughts as to whom was the culprit are pointless. We have no way of knowing. Any town has its teenage marauders, bored enough to cruise around at night looking for a mail box to push over or a bike to steal off a lawn and use as a BMX. I try not to take these things personally, but on Saturday, it seemed much more difficult. I was already teetering uncomfortably close to the edge of an emotional precipice.

So, what to do in a state of mind such as this? After brooding and muttering to myself for awhile: these days...feel violated...police won't do anything about it, got bigger fish to fry...not enjoying feeling like a cranky old bag...mutter, mutter.................try to enjoy a wonderful dinner and a couple of glasses of nice wine. (My husband and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary this past weekend and so we treated ourselves, and our kids, to a nice dinner at home.) And after dinner and cleanup, go for a good walk with my husband to hash out my feelings on the matter without the 'little pitchers with big ears' around to absorb my negativity. Then, once back home, sit down with the older members of the family to watch an episode of Midsomer Murders, a show with a warm, fatherly detective named Barnaby and his endearing young sidekick, Jones (Barnaby's had a few sidekicks, but Jones is my favourite). Not very cheerful subject matter, some may think, but I disagree. There is nothing like a good murder mystery to calm me down.

I've been a fan of murder mysteries for quite some time. I especially like the British ones like Inspector Morse, which I watched regularly with my parents when I was still living at home, Miss Marpole and the unfortunately short-lived The Last Detective. I have been on again, off again with Midsomer Murders - some of the plotlines border on the ridiculous, and if this show goes on much longer, there won't be any miserable residents of Midsomer County, England left to kill off. On Saturday night's episode, only two murders occured and one attempted murder, but in other episodes, up to five or six are often knocked off in a matter of hours. Of course, things are nicely solved and wrapped up in an hour and a half on Midsomer Murders, and therein lies its campy charm; the bad guys are always caught, after a few twists and turns of course, and sweet justice is served. I can't help wishing that real life were more like that sometimes.

The other attraction I have to murder mysteries is the reminder they give me at times when I am feeling small, vulnerable, upset by life's injustices, etc.: no matter what happens to upset my usual cheerful state, or no matter what I do to irritate those around me, I am still loved and no one (at least I hope there is no one) is trying to kill me or my loved ones. Not so for poor, beautiful Caroline Armitage, on Saturday night's episode, whose husband first drugged her, then tried to drown her for knowing too much about the crooked scheme he was involved in.

It also doesn't hurt that these murder mysteries are often filmed in gorgeous locations surrounded by stunning architecture ie. Oxford - the home of Inspector Morse, and I heard on a documentary that Americans especially, like their murders with a beautiful backdrop. I can relate. I certainly don't mean to romanticise murder - God forbid - but I do like a good puzzle and intelligently crafted, brilliant, humourous characters to solve them.
Saturday night, after the show, I went to bed and slept well, better than I had in days. Barnaby and Jones had done their good work, and after the culprits were charged, Barnaby even arrived in time to see his wife's choir finally win the Midsomer Choir Competition, which was held in a gorgeous, ancient church made of grey stone and filled with glorious stained glass windows - 'all's well that ends well,' as my mother used to say. In the morning I went for a long run in the not-yet-hot sunshine to work off the calories of the night before and to clear out the remaining cobwebs of my mind, and as the day progressed I began to feel more like my old self.
And today? It's raining. Yes! (I'm not sure if I'll be that cheerful after a few days of it, though.)


  1. I so agree about the entertainment value of the murder mystery in books and media. My wife and I really enjoyed the Colombo series, in which the rumpled 'clueless' detective always found the culprit through his persistent, disarming ways.

  2. The world is a better place when the TV detectives have done their stuff. I have seen Morse many times over the years and of course have seen 'Midsommer' a few times too. I have to say that I wouldn't want to live there though. Far too much of a risk of being murdered for such a wee place don't you think.

    I do agree that British series are world class though. It's something we do really well compared to many other places.

    I like my investigations a bit more forensic so I go for 'Waking the Dead', and for psychology 'Wire in the Blood' 'Spooks' is my spy fix.

    Take a peek if you ever get the chance. I think they are first class. {and the good guys always win in the end}


  3. If you like Morse then you will like Lewis as it is based round the Morse sidekick. Still set in Oxford so it's not as feudal as Midsomer nor as twee for that matter. Anyway I always found it very implausible that Bergerac turned up in the shires outside Bath.
    However there is no way I feel as abused watching that as I do when Grey's Anatomy casts its pall fug over the TV. Now there is a crime to the entertainment business if ever there was one. A sort of half coughed up fur ball ruining the careers of some reasonable actors. I've never seen a series where the actors are aging so quickly, it's as if the badness of the programme is sucking the collagen out of them.

    Sorry about the 'down', but it's good you have a man you can vent with. He is worth his weight in gold. And hopefully that goes the other way also for men need to vent sometimes.

  4. I was just talking to a friend yesterday about my lack of TV watching (sitcoms and movies). She was about to sit and relax and watch a movie.
    I'm glad you find things that have a settling affect because there is so much in life to get wound up about.
    Maybe I should watch a movie. :)

  5. As I was reading this, I thought about my favorite murder tv show, Columbo -- and I see your first commenter also watched it! It was very clever. I shall have to give Inspector Morse a try. I bet I can get it on Netflix.

    In my 20s I was a huge fan of Agatha Christie books and other murders. Nothing too messy. It was really all about the puzzle and sort of a clean, detached version of human frailties and indulgences. I am getting the craving to read one!

    I understand getting off kilter sometimes, and the foreign pink bike is enough to get you thinking about what's wrong with people. Glad you were able to sort it out; sometimes I just have to let things play out. The weather does seem to play a role for me too.

  6. Yes I think I should have taken some Miss Marple medicine yesterday! I also find The Antiques Roadshow a great calmer.

  7. Wonderful comments, everyone! Thanks so much - it really is a delight to read your thoughts. I had forgotten all about Columbo. I really loved that show when I was younger, and Murder She Wrote, too.

    Vince, I must confess that I find it hard to enjoy Lewis (though my husband likes it) because after being such a Morse fan the show seems, well, sort of second hand to me. And yes, I certainly am a sounding board for my husband as well. LORD yes.

    Al: You aren't the first person to rave about Spooks to me. I really will have to check it out, and keep my eyes open for the others, too. I like that you can rent t.v. series now as we don't get a lot of channels.

  8. Happy Anniversary! As we share one, I remembered. :)

    I haven't watched much TV since I got married and had kids. (I don't count Sesame Street) All the TV I do see I rent from Netflix or watch on the internet. I have not seen many mysteries lately, but I do love them.

    I liked Spooks too, but here in the US the word 'spook' is an almost out-moded, but racist term for a black person, so the show is called 'MI-5.'

    I love reading Agatha Christie and have always read alot of her when I am pregnant, so now that you have reminded me (and I am still pregnant) I must get to the library and pick one I have not read!

  9. I thought that at first too, but after a while realised that it isn't Morse Mk-II at all but a realistic continuation of what should happen in any organisation like the Police. With its realistic remembrance of a dead colleague, but without a mawkish reference every two lines.
    Well I like it anyway. And maybe even more than Morse.

  10. Tracey: I hope you had a good anniversary too! MI-5? Okay! I'll look for it under that name, too.

    Vince: I'm glad you like Lewis. Maybe I should give it another chance :) I only saw one or two episodes. I just really liked John Thaw and the Morse, Lewis pairing. I forgot to say I laughed out loud at your raking of Grey's Anatomy over the coals. I have never watched the show as I find most of those hospital dramas are just an excuse to make a prime-time soap opera. Melodramatic, boring, and implausible.

  11. I actually popped back in to comment on the Grey's thing too.

    Vince, Grey's Anatomy is what I call PMS television. If you are a girl and you are in need of a good cry, this is the show for you. But, once you have regained your senses, you realize it is patently ridiculous.

  12. I tune in to Grey's Anatomy every once in awhile to watch McSteamy, but it doesn't hold my attention very long.

    I'll watch anything that's filmed in Hawaii.

    It's funny that the detectives are named Barnaby and Jones. There's an old TV detective series called Barnaby Jones.

  13. reminds me of the Paula Cole song:
    Where is my John Wayne / Where is my prairie song / Where is my happy ending / Where have all the cowboys gone...

    proof that sometimes a happy ending - even if it's for somebody else - does a heart good.

  14. My objection to Grey's has to do with it being put together by Focus Group. When you rub it between your fingers there is no grit. There was in the early days, but no longer. If you remember Dallas got that way before it imploded. Nothing to do with it being girly some girly stuff can be a joy when well written.
    It's just no matter how good the writers are they cannot overcome the lack of plot.

  15. Jen: I used to love Magnum P.I.! It's amazing the amount of good tv shows we got on two channels.

    E.P. Yes! I like those lyrics.

    Vince: I do remember Dallas, but I wasn't allowed to watch it (too young, I think). So who DID shoot J.R.?

  16. I'm thinking when I hit 60 I'll move on to be able to watch suspense and murder movies. In my 50's I'm still stuck on PG...although sometimes I got way out and watch PG13!

  17. Ooo, finally I have time to comment. I know this is late, but I'm sorry to hear that you weren't feeling too great. For the swelling, since it happens 'seasonally', I'm sure you thought about this, but just in case, do you reduce your salt intake?

    I felt so bad for that little girl whose bike was taken. I can imagine how shaken up you might be at the thought of someone violating your space and also taking a precious little girl's bike. Did you consider putting up some 'fliers' that say 'missing bike found' or something?

    (yes, I am an annoying 'let me tell you something to do' person- whenever I hear a problem, I always have to, much to everyone's annoyance, try to think of a solution).

    Anyways, I know what you mean about 'the upside of murder'- really catchy title, btw ;) I used to be a total 'murder' 'mystery' addict.

    Now, I just don't have the heart for it anymore. I know, usually the murders are caught but I don't know....just can't really sit through it, anymore ;)

    I'm glad it worked for you, though,

    and happy anniversary!


I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!