Betrayal is bad enough but when the betrayer manages to convince the betrayed it was their fault- that is evil and so, in my opinion, is anyone who deliberately tries to break up a happy marriage. These two examples of behaviour beyond the pale, are excellently portrayed in ‘All the Small Things’ the new six part series on BBC1 on Tuesday nights at . Written by Debbie Horsfield it’s the story of a choir master and his sweet-natured wife who is also the lead soprano, then along cones the glamorous Layla with a stunning voice and all hell is let loose.
Sarah Lancashire, nicely plumped out since her role in Corrie, is excellent as the wife, Neil Pearson is totally convincing as the love rat ( he even has the temerity to ask his wife to wait for him till he gets this thing out of his system) and Sarah Alexander is entirely hiss – worthy as the ruthless seductress. There are lots of interesting strands to the story, the music is uplifting and happily the sweet wife had steel in her soul. I’m hooked for the next 6 weeks.
This train of thought was triggered by a poem I’ve just discovered:
‘A Ballad of Hell’ by John Davidson 1857-1909
It tell of a woman receiving a letter from her love where he tells her he will rot in prison unless he agrees to marry his cousin and tells her they must both commit suicide and they will meet in hell. In the dead of night she goes to the forest and ‘drove her dagger home'. Waking up in hell she asks the Devil if her lover has come yet and he tells her her lover is to marry that evening.
How long she stayed I cannot tell;
But when she felt his perfidy,
She marched across the floor of hell;
And all the damned stood up to see.
The devil stopped her at the brink;
She shook him off; she cried ‘Away!’
‘My dear, you have gone mad I think.’
‘I was betrayed: I will not stay.’
Across the weltering deep she ran;
A stranger thing was never seen:
The damned stood silent to a man;
They saw the great gulf set between.
To her it seemed a meadow fair;
And flowers sprang up about her feet.
She entered heaven; she climbed the stair
And knelt down at the mercy seat.
Seraphs and saints with one great voice
Welcomed the soul that knew not fear.
Amazed to find it could rejoice,
Hell raised a hoarse, half- human cheer.
Have a nice week-end.