God’s Own Country

Here are some personal musings and sequel-type ‘fantasies’ related to the hypnotically-beautiful, if not life-changing & obsessive, God’s Own Country film (2017) written, crafted and produced by Francis Lee, featuring Josh O’Connor (Johnny), Alec Secăreanu (Gheorghe), Gemma Jones (Nan, Deidre Saxby) and Ian Hart (Dad, Martin Saxby), masterfully edited by Chris Wyatt (himself). The movie is available on DVD and Netflix. You can follow the GOC fan club musings on Twitter using hashtag #GOCfanfamily.

First Off | The GOC Fan Family People

“The too wonderful for words fan family”
– Chris Wyatt (GOC film editor)

April field trip to the area around Keighley, West Yorkshire, where everything was filmed | At the station on “Gheorghe’s corner”; at the barn, that infamous barn. Images courtesy of family members, in jumpers.



May 20th fan-family get together at Saffron Screen, Saffron Walden, Essex, with an intimate Q&A after pizza.

Sequels on sleepless nights

Many fans are writing brilliant, often very moving, scripts, imagined story lines – prequel and sequel – on this archive site »

Before we go. Birdsong

The curlew. It strips your soul apart and then haunts you, on the moors. Please listen?

The turtle dove. They bond for life.

My own musings

Prenups Part 1: Knots

Mrs Ionescu arrives at the farm, a couple days before the simple ceremony. Her eyes! She owns the family and their modest space immediately; she dominates with presence wherever she is. There is no Mr Ionescu, not now. Like the Gheorghe-arrival first supper (bap and a brew), they’re all in that room. John’s jaw drops, it never closes. Gheorghe gulps, the adam’s apple dance. Gheorghe looks, slightly furrowed brow, raised eyebrow, as he does, at John first. Then at Nan (who adores him from within), then to Martin (who does too). They all look at each other. Mrs Ionescu knows.

Like her son, she is a patient and shrewd observer of context and of people, by virtue of innate curiosity, social standing, and of need. Like the barn scene, the explosion between John – more a loud-mouthed and insecure coward than a bully – Mrs Ionescu summonses Gheorghe outside. “You, my boy”, she says, “you come with me”. She does not break eye contact with any of them.

They enter the yard, not audible. John goes to the window, and stares, but sideways on. It’s less a conversation, more of a monologue, as Martin would understand. Gheorghe looks sheepish, eyes dipped off-and-on. As when traffic is hurtling towards you on a back lane.

They return. Gheorghe sits. He looks at John square-on. There’s a smile of sorts, tempered. For the first time, Gheorghe looks nervous. His mother seeks John’s eyes, face-on, for an uncomfortably long while. Everybody looks at John.

John smiles, if slightly awkwardly, his lips and mouth off-centre, as always when he’s exposed. “So, howdya say wedding then?” Johnny enquires. “Nuntă” says Mrs Ionescu” firmly. “And how do you say ‘I do’” she asks in swift, sharp reply. “Fac” says Johnny. He’s been practicing. Gheorghe smiles; no, he glows with pride. Johnny can also say “Fermă”, “miel” and “veterinar” with confidence. Caravană is now distant, sold off for their new bed (with a bad mattress and single-fleece apology for a duvet). Gheorghe still sleeps on his pillow cover – private headland.

Prenups Part 2: The Saxby-Ionescu Bakeoff : John to Johnny?

While everybody was a little taken aback by Johnny’s symbolic breaking of ice in a palpably nervous northern atmosphere, and not least for his perfect, if monosyllabic, Romanian, Gheorghe’s finger moved slowly across the table, Bourbon-free today (standards), to the modest package his mother had placed there. Gheorghe knew exactly what it was and he grinned again. However, it was a mildly conspiratorial expression as his eyes caught Nan’s. She winked back and smiled as the co-conspirator in a family plot. Dad, still with pained, contorted features, looked more bewildered than anything, as if he’d woken that morning in parallel dimensions, albeit in clean pajamas and back-scrubbed, by his son. Everybody had been, simply, far too well behaved for his comfort.

Whilst conspiracies were unfolding, Johnny stood, jaw in place, and pulled out a chair for Mrs Ionescu. He smiled a little more confidently, almost courteously. This time it was Nan’s jaw that dropped. She was also thinking what it would be like when they did their own laundry.

Gheorghe’s finger tapped the package, neatly wrapped. He knew it was home-made. It was special, a ritual for martyrs and the agricultural year, bringing warmth outside after a cold winter – and even Spring had been so bone-chillingly cold here, year-on-year. It was Mucenici, his favourite desert-cake-bread. Traditionally, with this, and mostly enjoyed by men, is the drinking of 44 glasses of alcohol on March 9th. It is said that, since Roman times, he who drinks the 44 glasses will be strong for the whole year, as the wine will be converted into blood.

It hadn’t worked so well for Johnny though – the taxi driver had posted the taxi sick-clean-up bill after that night out in Bradford, the net-curtain night for Gheorghe’s first sleep in the caravan. Nan never invoiced – simply gave one of her looks and left a Tesco bleach spray in John’s bedroom.

Gheorghe’s father had always been an overly keen practitioner of the ritual, and Johnny had not been briefed on the entirety of the tradition; he didn’t need to be, based on history, but had been supremely well-behaved since the home-coming. It certainly didn’t involve Sambuca either.

Nan shuffled. “Won’t be a minute” she chirped, turning to the kitchen, “tea’s a’brew”. Gheorghe looked at the table, in expectation. Johnny’s eyes flitted toward the bottle of Romanian wine, from the Co-Op in Bingley, sat on the mantelpiece; Nan had kept the receipt just in case. He knew there was no lager in the fridge – a weekend treat, under license.

He didn’t like being scolded by his husband to be, but actually rather enjoyed it, twitching and smirking, trying to rebel against sullen eyes. After the large teapot had been fetched, best china already in place, Nan disappeared back into the kitchen which she and Gheorghe had learned to carefully share, with choreographed manoeuvres and an occasional tutting upon physical contact.

Nan returned with a lemon drizzle cake, so moist it wobbled with a mild hand-tremoring. She placed it on the table, and hovered a tiny moment. One could almost smell the pride, if not competitive friction. Dad’s eyes lit up, and he smiled wonkily. Gheorghe’s eyes caught Nan’s, his deep hazelnut gaze into her life-wise blue-grey wisdom and worry. She winked again, ever so slightly. She was starting to realise that her life, subsumed into that of her son and grandson, was no longer embedded in clay. She still wears her wedding band for lost souls in a cruel place, a thin thread of memory, regret.

Nan swirled with some grace, despite aching hips, a confident gait, almost on tip toes with a swivel and a mission. Within an instant, as Johnny poured tea, and Gheorghe – with subliminal maternal permission – opened the Mucenici, behold! A large Yorkshire curd tart was presented with triumph. The only thing missing was a brass band. In the centre was placed a blue-starred European flag. Johnny had managed to find something with the flag on and had crafted it, on a cocktail stick, into a symbol.

The tart was Gheorghe’s, the flag Johnny’s, it was Nan’s recipe but the baker had needed little more than a hot oven. Both Nan and Gheorghe, her grandson-in-law, had sucked many eggs together in the previous year, each stubbornly fighting their own corners, but gently yielding. They could never admit that. Nan could make cheese; she had a reason to. She’d even bought more tea-towels and made room in the fridge. What’s more, there was a rather large new fridge in the annex, where fortunes could ferment. There was a new double-bed upstairs after a negotiated room-shift and a minor expense. See?

Johnny cut a small slice of each cake and made sure dad was the first to taste each. He scuffed the crumbs off dad’s lips. Dad grinned. Mrs Ionescu, amused at the sweet competition, looked quite at home. Barely perceptible, she winked at her son, as Gheorghe had done to Johnny after their return from high-pasture, as their fingers briefly touched, and tapped, charged with memories, some loneliness, pride, but above all, love that needed few words.

Without accident, the back of Nan’s hand brushed across Gheorghe’s yoke as she scuttled for a few wine glasses. “Works hard, your lad” she quipped. It was her turn to glow, but obviously without showing any sense of happiness, nor of relief. The wine was opened, screw top these days, and Johnny let out a long, satisfied breath. He winked at Gheorghe, who raised an eyebrow without other expression.

Dad could hear the curlews. How they cry of prospective evening.

They are to be wed. It’s not going to be easy. These are the Saxbys and Ionescus. Doves bond forever — sounds so easy.

To be continued by many.