I took the bus to Witney today, almost the first time I've been to (as opposed to through) that town. I seem to recall a visit with my mother, who had worked for a little while in the famous Early's factory in the 'Thirties as part of her social studies diploma experience: we came away with a bright red blanket. Now, it's almost a decade since blankets were made in Witney, which has seen much redevelopment alongside its original heart - full of the usual charity shops.
I was there to see a friend who was hospital-bound: the only place for a chat was apparently the landing by the lift and stair-head, not exactly an oasis of peace. Whilst bureaucracy ensured that the patient had plenty of scope for cultivating... patience, it was still evident that a culture of very personal service prevailed within the hospital. It contrasted interestingly with the situation portrayed in Sebastián Silva's The Maid, which we saw this evening (at the Film Society). Its protagonist is of a type more commonly found in Silva's 21st Century Chile than in 21st Century England, where next to nobody is called to the vocation of a maid. What the film expertly sketches is the degree of genuine attachment members of a family can feel for their long-suffering servant, brilliantly acted by Catalina Saavedra. "I love them and they love me. I'm part of the family," her character confesses.