[Spoilers Alert: Call The Midwife series 7 episode 8]
From next week, I’ll be co-leading a module on ‘Christian Theology, Ritual, and Pastoral Care.’ In that context, I am thinking about a beautiful scene from the most recent episode of Call The Midwife…
Clip: 01:15-02:39. Avuncular Fred Buckle [Cliff Parisi] pays his neighbour, curate Tom Hereward [Jack Ashton], a visit on the morning of the funeral of Tom’s young wife, Barbara.
Fred: “Now what I said to you when we arrived in South Africa still holds good. There are three things you need when you arrive in a foreign country: a scrub-up [wash], a shave, and a visit to the khazi [toilet].”
Tom: “I’m not in a foreign country, Fred. I’m in my own home. In a place where I’ve lived for years. It just, uh—”
Fred: “It feels like somewhere you’ve never been before. [Pause] Now, you’re big enough and ugly enough to make your own khazi and scrub-up arrangements; the shave, you need to leave to me.”
Voice-over narrator [Vanessa Redgrave], while Fred proceeds to shave Tom:
“We recount old beats of other stories; we retrace our steps; take refuge in echoes of that which is familiar. We follow custom, and ritual, because we have no map. We reach out, blindly; we cannot see the past; and, far from home, we cling to the way these things are always done.”