The hit British comedian, singer, songwriter, actor and all-around brilliant woman Victoria Wood sadly passed away on April 20th. Famous for Dinnerladies, her stand-up and a number of risqué numbers she was a genius of comedy. And so I found myself watching The Ballad of Barry and Freda, one of Wood’s musical numbers that tells the tale of a couple. They’re sitting at home one evening watching the telly when Freda gets the urge to get physical, meanwhile, Barry’s got the urge to go to bed. And so the song continues as Freda tries to convince Barry to have a bit of sex whilst Barry comes up with a number of increasingly ridiculous excuses to avoid getting intimate. The song sings for itself so here it is:
It’s a comic number but as I listened to Victoria Wood sing, knowing that she had passed away, I couldn’t help but feel that there’s also something quite tragic about this song. Freda’s desire to grab life by the balls and do it is truly inspiring whilst Barry just seems like a wimp. He has all these reasons not to, worried he’ll “get it wrong”, worried he doesn’t have the strength, worried about the state of the roof, but I can’t help but think these aren’t valid reasons to avoid Freda’s offer of, what sounds like, the promise of some scorching intercourse (“slap me on the bottom with a Woman’s Weekly”. Yes please!). I think Barry’s just making excuses because he’s afraid.
And how often do we do that? Make up excuses to avoid having to get down and dirty, and I’m not just talking about shagging, I’m talking about living. There are times when fear really is the right response and not doing something is eminently sensible but I’m talking about those experiences just on the edge of your comfort zone not the ones in your panic zone. Those experiences that might take a little effort but would prove totally worth it. I can’t help but think having sex with Freda is one such experience for Barry. Yet the song ends before we know if they do it but I hope they do. I hope Barry’s heart starts pumping and he too opts to grab life by the balls (or, indeed, the boobies) because they say that the magic happens at the edge of your comfort zone and it sounds like Freda has an awful lot of magic to share with Barry (I mean, “smear some avocado on my lower portions”!). So here’s to doing it, to being like Freda and just going for it, and inspiring others to go for it too.