Melody Timeline Revisited

It’s a stupid time to have started this because I am late getting to bed for a 1:30 AM alarm, but I ended up working it out, subject to uncertainty. I set out to create actual dates in 1970 that would likely correspond to the events in Melody.

And most of the way through the post I realized a critical mistake that changed things either by an entire week, by accepting that “a week” in the dialogue could be approximate (the way “that’s twice as old as I am now” is approximate when related to “in their twenties,” given that it can mean any age from ten to fourteen is being doubled), and/or eliminates the spring bank holiday I had included as a factor. It also returns to ambiguity as to whether the assembly and music room are on the same day. The critical mistake is that the day on which the music room happens is a Wednesday. It just is. We know that because it is the day of the dinner party with Betty and George at the Latimer’s, planned for the Wednesday following the initial day of the film, which I still take to be a Saturday.

So I saved the post as draft and went back to the drawing board.

Originally I noted there are two anchors. One is the requirement that it be exactly a week from the day he falls in love with her to the day of the cemetery scene. That’s in the dialogue, for better or worse. In real life, what we’d have seen would have been highlights over a longer period and he’d have already loved her for, say, a month or two. At least they didn’t mismatch the events in the movie to that detail of the script! It’d be weird if they’d gone through an obvious month of time and the dialogue said a week. As noted above, it may be necessary to take the week as an “about a week” approximation for this to make any sense. On the other hand, that does give the core of the movie a fairly definitive timespan. Ambiguity happens before and after the stretch of time from love at first sight to them being together. The single least ambiguous other timing is the day of reckoning after the seaside taking place the next school day.

From the day of the cemetery scene to the seaside, any number of days might have passed. There is support for this implied by Mr. Perkins speaking as if Daniel has visited them multiple times, not just the one time for tea. That could be sloppy wording, as people do, but it does seem rather sudden, making the relationship official one day and blowing off school for an all day date to the seaside the next day. On the other other hand, having spent a lot of intervening time together might have made their conversation less awkward at the seaside. But that could be a script writing foible.

From the day of reckoning to the wedding day could have been multiple days, though it seems likely it wasn’t. I read between the lines that Ornshaw and Daniel came up with it during school, after the morning fight, and it was what Daniel was talking so vehemently about while comforting her in the rain after school.

The other anchor, which is only approximate, is my tying of the hymn sung at the school assembly to Trinity Sunday. I did this in my old religion post. For other aspects of the timeline, of course, I referred back to my timeline post.

Trinity Sunday was May 24, 1970. Filming was in 1970, so we can take that to be the year it’s set, with us viewing the events almost a year later.

I took as a given that the first day of the film was a Saturday. No school. I take as a given that we see no events on Sundays. I took as a given that the school dance was a Saturday.

I added into the mix the fact that the 1970 spring bank holiday was May 25. However, as noted above, if that was a day off school and was taken into account in the script’s dealing with timing – if it did deal with timing particularly – then the dinner party can’t be on a Wednesday. While there’s no guarantee the choice of hymn or the assembly itself had any connection to Trinity Sunday, I love that theory and I think the story is set that late in the spring. I take “first of May” to be a red herring, something that just happens to be in the song lyrics. For what it’s worth, May 1, was a Friday. If they tied it to that date, it would either have been the day he fell in love, or the cemetery scene day. We never are told that he’s new to the school, and he acts like he’s new but it’s not the first day he’s been there. However, the Saturday in the BB seems to be his first, or one of his first, in that organization. He’s a new recruit. It’s something new his mother “thrust on him.” He’s completely new to the hijinks the boys get up to after school.

I forgot where I left off revising this last night, but I am going to start here with going through the rest and adding or modifying. I’m going to take the approach, to get the Wednesday matched, of ignoring the bank holiday.

For simplicity, I am going to place all the events end to end over 14 days. However, there are spots before and after the mandatory week when there could have been breaks, except that the day after the seaside trip had to be one day later or, if a weekend fell between, three days later. Here’s the most straightforward calendar, start to finish:

Saturday, May 23:
Characters introduced. Family and class elements set up. Kids shown as kids but heading out of childhood.

Sunday, May 24: Nothing shown. Trinity Sunday

Monday, May 25:
Introduction to the school and broader cast of kids. Makes clear Daniel is new kid there. Daniel and Ornshaw have adventure to Trafalgar Square, become close.

Tuesday, May 26:
Due to Ornshaw’s mischief, Daniel sees Melody in dance class and falls in love at first sight. After school follows her and friends, gets caught. From there it’s “a week” to the cemetery scene.

Wednesday, May 27:
School assembly where Ornshaw makes sure Melody knows Daniel is looking at her. Singing Holy, Holy, Holy hymn gives the tie to week of Trinity Sunday. Could have been any time near it. Went with this because it fit. Later that day is the music room scene. Timing of that is implicit. That was the last sentence I wrote before I realized the dinner party was a Wednesday and I didn’t have this on a Wednesday. It was on Thursday the 28th before I changed things. I was also having second thoughts about the music room and assembly being the same day. They appear to be, but there’s also no reason to believe they aren’t different days. This is the day she has clearly decided she likes him, too.

Thursday, May 28:
Lunch scene.

Friday, May 29:
Apparently nothing this day.

Saturday, May 30:
Monthly school dance. I’ve ruled out it being on a school day. They are dressed for the dance, not for school. School gets out at or just before 3:30. Tea is around 5:00. Melody is home from the dance, messing with makeup for a while, then it’s time for tea.

Sunday, May 31:
Nothing shown.

Monday, June 1:
Athletics Day (Field Day where I’m from). I always take this to be the whole day, close enough, and the segue to kids flooding into school being the next morning.

Tuesday, June 2:
Well, this is actually a week exactly if we eliminate the bank holiday as a factor. I’d like to think the assembly was closer to Trinity Sunday than I have it, but oh well. Maybe assembly is a regular thing. Maybe the choice of hymn is a red herring.

June 2 is the big day, the famous cemetery scene. Daniel and Ornshaw didn’t do the homework and face punishment. Odd, if you consider that they had the weekend and the extra day of no academics represented by field day. Maybe it’s a script foible. Maybe it’s something else to take into account when deciding what happens when.

Wednesday, June 3:
Seaside, if they planned it right away rather than after they had been an item for a while. We have minor evidence they were an item for a while before this, in the form of Mr. Perkins sounding as if her bringing Daniel home was a regular thing, not a one time thing.

Thursday, June 4:
Day of being in trouble for skipping school. This is the day after the seaside, no matter how long after June 2 it actually happened.

Friday, June 5:
Day of revolt and wedding. Assuming they planned this on the day of reckoning and executed it the next day, which isn’t mandatory but is also quite possible.

This could be inaccurate in terms of when it falls on the calendar, apart from it being mid to late spring for sure. How long is “a trifle”? By ditching school to go to the seaside, Daniel and Melody “moved the summer holidays up a trifle” per the headmaster. That suggests summer isn’t too far away. In England, that’s apparently not until July, so that makes me think it’s more like June than May when they skip school. Further, the weather is fine for being at the beach. It can’t be too early in the season. It’s possible I have set it early compared to when it really was meant to be. This is like doing math with multiple variables and never being able to get a definite answer. The whole thing could move in either direction a week or two. And again with it not necessarily being consecutive days, except that about if not exactly a week pass from Daniel falling in love to the day he chooses her over Ornshaw. The dinner party has to fall on a Wednesday and with it the music room scene. It’s possible the music room and assembly are on different days. The intro has to be on a weekend day. Saturday is the overwhelming favorite for that. The first day we see the school is probably the next school day following the intro, so likely a Monday, or Tuesday if there were a Monday holiday. Trinity Sunday may be my most tenuous inclusion. Monthly dance seems like it should be the weekend, probably Saturday. Without Peggy and Ornshaw fighting, that might have been the day Daniel and Melody walked and talked and went home for tea. There could be gaps after the cemetery scene day, but the seaside day and reckoning day would be back to back school days. And I’d still love to know what their parents knew of that and when, and how they reacted.

I just wanted to finish this off, finally, before going to bed. I’ll review it and hope it doesn’t fall apart before my eyes.

Update on May 31, 2019:
I’m looking at stuff about school scheduling, holidays/vacations, and such in England in 1970 or thereabouts and it could change everything. For instance, the log from a specific school for the year 1970 puts Easter holiday 3/26/70 – 4/12/70, and then puts half-term holiday from 5/22/70 to blank, but the next date for which anything is listed as happening for school is 6/4/70. I’m finding the entries hard to read because the month and day are reversed from the order most people place them in in the US. Another thing I read says some of the holidays like that are only 4 day weekends, while others are two weeks. Summer holiday was then 7/24 – 9/7. That half term holiday would incorporate the date of the bank holiday that I found vexing. It would be unsurprising if the events of Melody all took place after the final half term holiday of the school year, putting it entirely in June. I need to read about it more and work that into perhaps an updated update.

Update 2:
The holiday would have taken place the last week of May, and June 1 would have been the first day back at school. If what we see on the first day of the film is still Saturday, it falls near the end of a week off and of course the kids would be bored by then. The kids would have been especially wild on arrival back at school. I’ll redo the whole thing with an eye to this, but basically the first date above would become May 30, and the last date above would become June 12. Whether Trinity Sunday was a factor would be mooted by distance, but the school wouldn’t have had a chance to observe it during the week off. It might have been interesting for the story to incorporate the week off, but that would have embellished too much and kept it from getting to the point efficiently. I might have liked more fleshing out, but it didn’t need much more.

One thought on “Melody Timeline Revisited

  1. Pingback: Love at First Sight | Accidental Verbosity

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