OPINION - A house is not always a home, as the brilliant Succession is showing us
While getting entangled in the intense, gripping moral rapprochement of the final hours of Succession, I found myself recalling the engrossing story of Susan Boyle. I loved Subo, an incongruous lightning bolt shot across Saturday night light entertainment. I even got to work with her intermittently during her first trolley dash to fame, while enjoying a brief professional tenure as a hired hand for Syco, the perfectly named Simon Cowell Hit Factory.
I think of Subo still when someone highly unlikely rockets to the centre of public infamy, then just as sharply regresses. The Catherine Wheel fizz and splutter of last year’s Liz Truss prime ministerial fiasco was textbook Subo. Lewis Capaldi’s startling about turn from jolly suburban Scot lad-u-like to lonely portent of the sketchy price of fame is masterclass Subo, not just because he looks and sounds so much like her plucky wee nephew.
I digress. When Ms Boyle stole the accolade of Britain’s highest-grossing debut album from Arctic Monkeys — a British fame fact which now sounds like the start of a round on Pointless — she did as one is expected to do when one makes millions, buying a big fancy house on the posh side of town. She never bothered moving in, preferring the threadbare estate semi she’d been brought up in. The neighbours were nice there. They looked out for her. It was cosy, familiar, the cat liked it and she didn’t have to worry about spilling stuff. Money can buy you incredible things. But it cannot buy you the warm collegiate realities of home.
This is the gift that Succession’s charismatic patriarch, Logan Roy, could not give his kids, making the final few episodes of the series defy its own title, as it moves from something Shakespearean towards something biblical.
The central story of the inheritance of monetary power and political control hardly matters any money. It is not about what you pass down — made explicitly evident by Shiv’s unborn demon baby, the bumpy symbolic spectre at the Roy’s ghastly family feast — so separated are they all by now from any idea of nurturing.
In this respect, Logan Roy died with nothing more substantial left in his will but a series of shouty imperial take-downs in glass boardrooms. Real succession isn’t what you leave your kids in death, it’s what you give them in life.
Home takes hard work. It takes graft. Home is filled with invisible components, like commitment and compromise. It takes years to engineer.
You can build as many kitchen islands, lay as many parquet floor tiles into a property as you like. But those trappings will never converge to substitute the beautiful feeling of walking back into an address where people understand how to love one another.
That’s home. Logan Roy could have learned a trick or two from Subo beside their shared accent. The priority of building a home rather than an empire is the kind of modest dream we can all dream.
The brilliance of Tina Turner
In honour of the tenacious life, talent and death of proper pop cultural royalty, Tina Turner, I can heartily recommend a weekend viewing of Tina, the HBO documentary of her life, her last and possibly most all encompassing work.
Tina bristles with life. It, too, is a deeply moral work, built around a central strand in which she skilfully guides by the hand anyone stuck in the emotional torture of domestic abuse and instructs them, in no uncertain terms, how she got out. That moment has stuck with me ever since first watching it on release. Tina Turner was absorbingly brilliant at holding onto her entertainment crown across decades. But in that moment, she did something most pop stars can only dream of. She was almost certainly responsible for the saving of lives.