Melbourne, 2020

At the conclusion of the final episode of the final season of Detectorists, the gentle, perceptive British television series, Andy (Mackenzie Crook) and Lance (Toby Jones) are camped under the stars, under a favourite tree. Ambling a little aimlessly toward middle-age, they have found contentment in their friendship and some satisfaction in their lives, even though their shared passion for metal detecting has not brought them riches.

Above them, nestled amongst the branches and leaves, unbeknownst to the pair, are the elusive gold coins from ancient Roman times that they have been seeking, plucked from the picturesque Suffolk soil by local birdlife.

Every morning I ride a few minutes to my school crossing and park my bicycle under my Detectorists tree. There, I unpack my tools: Stop sign, crossing flags, uniform. Then I wait for the school children. During the Melbourne lockdown I waited. And waited. And waited. For in the lockdown days there were precious few people, let alone school-children, who needed help crossing a near-empty road.

The pretty Detectorists theme song is about waiting, though of a different kind.

Will you search through the lonely earth for me
Climb through the brier and bramble
I’ll be your treasure

I felt the touch of the kings and the breath of the wind
I knew the call of all the song birds
They sang all the wrong words
I’m waiting for you
I’m waiting for you…

Meanwhile, my Detectorists tree keeps me company, keeps me sheltered, keeps me optimistic. It’s solid. Sturdy. Steady. Like my family, my partner, my offspring, my friends. It’s not going to blow over in the wind. It’s not going to drop its branches. It’s not going to let me down.

Just as Detectorists never let me down in its three lovely, sad, wry, funny seasons. As The Radio Times said in December 2017, before the final episode: Ostensibly it’s about two nerdy, 40-something men indulging their metal-detecting hobby while real life is passing them by. And yes, they are searching for gold, but dig below the surface and it’s about so much more: history, conservation, love, family, friendship, the quiet achievements of ordinary people… these are the treasures of life, not material things… The joy of Detectorists is precisely the fact that, for the most part, it isn’t earth-shattering; rather, a succession of entrancing moments and small happenings.

Which, it could be said, is all we can hope for from this thing called life.

Stereo Story #562

‘Tree and bike’, a longer version of this story (without the song, but with more pics) is on my little blog.

Detectorists article, The Radio Times, 13 December, 2017

Vin is founding editor of Stereo Stories and director/MC of Stereo Stories In Concert.