The morning obligations have been fulfilled, I’ve had my lunch and washed up, and I don’t have to sally forth again until the evening. I have a little correspondence to attend to, but I prepared tomorrow’s funeral last night; so right now I’m going to sit down with a cup of tea and watch Julia MacKenzie play Miss Marple in the film based on Agatha Christie’s Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?
Somewhat to my surprise I find that Miss Marple is my rôle model for the stage of life I have now reached.
The great thing about a fictional rôle model is that they cannot surprise you with disappointing choices – well, I say that, but maybe it’s not always the case; I had some vigorous protests from readers when my Father William opted for the course of action that concluded Remember Me. But then he always did manage to upset everyone.
Anyway Miss Marple is everything I aspire to.
She has a quiet but clear and effective Christian faith.
She’s observant and intelligent.
She dresses modestly and becomingly, with understated elegance becoming to her age group. I love Miss Marple’s dress sense. She always looks wholesome and . . . erm . . . what’s the word . . . pleasant . . . neat . . . restful to the eye. I like her fine lawn blouses and her well-cut tweed jackets, her sensible lace-up shoes and her soft blue woollens. I like her graceful, tidy hairstyle.
Her gaze is direct and acute, shrewd. She takes in what she sees and grasps its significance.
She is understanding and compassionate; she listens properly and reflects on what she hears. She is wise and kind, never prejudiced or hasty in her judgements.
She is not bossy or pushy, but she perseveres and can be insistent when the well-being of others is at stake.
She is self-effacing, courteous and serene, soft-spoken and approachable.
She doesn't have to be slim. Thank you, Miss Marple; I love that.
Oh, Miss Marple, I have so much to learn from you.
I have a boxed set of DVDs of Margaret Rutherford’s Miss Marple, a present from the Badger. My absolute favourite is The 4.50 From Paddington – I love the detail of the station and the old train (like they used to be – happy sigh), and the kitchen with all the old-fashioned things that make the world feel comforting and secure.
I prefer Joan Hickson’s and JuliaMacKenzie’s Miss Marple attire to Margaret Rutherford’s and Geraldine McEwan’s – I don’t like the fantastical, comedic get-ups they dress the latter two in; lampooned, somehow. Miss Marple had dignity, style and quiet flair – she was an English country gentle-woman.
In a bewildering and alarming world full of urgently and aggressively promoted agendas, antagonism, chatter and opportunism, I feel that Miss Marple has what it takes to help me thread my way through the chaos, and reach afternoon tea still smelling faintly of soap and lavender. Or maybe violets. Or roses.