It’s a kind of magic…

When I was a little girl I spent a lot of time looking in the backs of cupboards for Narnia. Sometimes, if no one’s looking and the cupboard looks right, I still do. I don’t even know why.  I guess, when I was little and at boarding school, I was unhappy a lot of the time. Looking for escape. Where better to escape to than somewhere with a lamp post in the snow, and adventures at every turn. A different world. No lights out. No kid taking my pocket money every week. No being locked in a room for talking after lights out and being forgotten for hours. No long haul between one trip home and the next. I really wanted to find that world on the other side of the old wooden back behind the crush of clothes and coats.

I can understand why I did it as a child. But as an adult?

Why do we think another world would be more magical than our own? As if somewhere else can hold more adventure than our own lives? It’s silly really. But we all want it, I guess. Something magical. Something different.

Last night a friend took me to my first ever red carpet premiere. Even though I know that it’s all just a bright gloss over life, I laughed and ooh’d and aah’d every time a new famous face came into the bar and was like a child a christmas. Not my normal Monday night. A strange but wonderful peek into a world that seems so very different from my own. If not a step through the cupboard, then a cold breeze and the hint of hooves scurrying through the snow.

It was freezing last night but Leicester Square was filled with people wanting autographs and photos (not of me, obviously – damned philistines;-)), and as my friend did his work charming someone with a baby, a lady in a wheelchair told me she’d been there for hours. HOURS in the cold, waiting for Tom Cruise and other sparkly beautiful people to smile at her, say a few words and sign something. Maybe get a picture.

Sometimes I think movies are the magic for grown-ups. There is a light about them and those who work under their spotlight. It’s easy to think that they have charmed lives. Magical lives. They don’t, of course. People are just people. Lives are just lives. We all just try and make sense of shit as it happens whoever we are. Bad things happen. Good things happen. If you’re lucky then the latter outweigh the former, but it’s all just random.

But movies…stories make sense in movies. In movies the hero is never just in the wrong place at the wrong time and gets pushed onto a subway track and no one pulls them out in the long and terrifying thirty seconds before the train comes. In movies, scary or otherwise, there is a point to everyone’s story. A logic. The boy gets the girl. Or doesn’t, but loses her nobly. The bad guy gets his comeuppance. Something is learned at at the end.

When we’re little, we think when we grow up it will all make sense. We’ll have the answers. Then comes the lonely moment when you realise there aren’t any answers, you’re just older, wiser, more cynical and still wanting just a moment of magic. A moment of something making sense. Of a random encounter that becomes an adventure. A moment where anything could happen and it could be breath-takingingly wonderful.

But life so often isn’t like that, because we settle into it, forgetting just how short it can be. How little time we have to get it right. To have our adventures. Now I’m a grown up, I escape through the metaphorical cupboard to worlds of my own make-believe and I’m lucky enough to get paid for it. Mostly those worlds are pretty dark though.

I like adventures. I like happy endings.

I’m not so good at the real world.

Thank god for the movies…I love their magic.

SP x

About sarah

Writer of supernatural and crime fiction for Gollancz in the UK. I've written six horror novels and my first thriller, A Matter of Blood, wa View all posts by sarah

9 responses to “It’s a kind of magic…

  • Christina James

    It’s why we write! The magic never really goes, as the child in us always glows, inside. For me, I save the cynicism for the real world. Love the movies, too. Thank you for this.

  • igorgoldkind

    >Then comes the lonely moment when you realise there aren’t any answers, you’re just older, wiser, more cynical and still wanting just a moment of magic. A moment of something making sense.

  • Stephen A North

    Thank you for sharing that, Sarah. I read the Narnia books, and always hoped to find that hidden passage too. I’ve followed a road that parallels yours at certain points. I too, write for similar reasons, and frequently in a dark vein.
    Your admirer, and kindred spirit across the water,

  • Gary Riddle

    Beautifully said, I think we are all still looking for our magic door even if most adults don’t admit to it, which is silly really, as we are still the children we once were, just a bit older.

    For me, Its ghost doors on old houses that give me a secret wish, the ones that have been bricked up and long forgotten about and you only notice they are there by the outline of different coloured brick-work. For me these shadows of what once was fill me with childish wonder, were they keeping something out.. or in? did it go somewhere other than where it was supposed to?

    I always imagine “what if one day the door just re-appeared?, could I go in? would I dare even open it?”

    I’m probably one of the few people that actually loved the film “The last action hero” there is nothing wrong in wanting a golden ticket to something amazing, there is nothing wrong with wanting a happy ending and there is definitely nothing wrong with admitting it.

  • Nicola Vincent-Abnett

    One of my favourite little blue moments of the week.

  • rstava

    Well, one shouldn’t confuse the two -which is why so many actors live screwed up lives – movies/stories, real life. There is magic of course – perhaps not in the Narnia sense – but it’s there, here, everywhere in the fabric and texture of our lives. Think about the entire process that enables you to sit down and create a story, write it, then share it with others.

    That’s magic in itself.

  • Rick Barnett

    There is an oppressive predictability to the unpredictability of our lives. For many of us, the magic of fantasy crumbles under the weight of relentless reality. Movies re-ignite our dreams, restoring, if only briefly, the vivid color and vitality of imagination.

  • Steve

    If you blog had a ‘like’ button, I would have clicked several times under this post. Stories make sense in ways real life doesn’t, and that’s why we need them.

    Really enjoyed your New Tricks, but I expected no less. Merry Christmas and all that festive gumph. May your tale spinner’s fingers type nineteen to the dozen in 2013 and beyond.


  • Nicolo

    This is disturbing and yet true. I relate far too well to this.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: