It makes sense thematically to watch The World’s End so soon after visiting my home town. Although it must be pointed out that Tawa is hardly the place for a grand pub crawl. When I was at school Tawa was a dry borough, meaning it did not have pubs or sell liquor at all. Now it is no longer dry, but any pub crawl there would be very short – there are only two pubs.
The World’s End is a story about five middle-aged men who, at the instigation of Gary, the one of them who hasn’t changed at all, and is still adolescent in his outlook and presentation, return to their sleepy home town to finish the pub crawl they started but never finished.
Although Gary still looks and talks the same as he did twenty years earlier, he is driven by a strong mixture of nostalgia and unfinished business. In his mind, that unfinished pub crawl was both a picture of life at its best, but also where things started to unravel. His life has become full of regrets (as have his friends, but they are just better at covering it up with the trappings of middle-aged life), and for him the fulcrum moment of regret is not finishing their grand pub crawl of the twelve pubs of Newton Haven.
Regrets are something that I am all too familiar with. When I look back at my school life, there are a lot of things I regret, things I regret doing and things I regret not doing. Some of them I didn’t do because of my own stupid choice, and others I was simply unable to do. I wish I had the chance to represent my school in sports, I wish I had kept in touch with more friends from school, and there are many others. And to be honest sometimes these regrets haunt me as much as they do Gary, and I wonder if life would have been better had I made different choices, or had the roll of the dice gone differently and I had different opportunities. One of my greatest temptations in life is “what if …”, and I need to learn that I cannot relive these forks in my destiny, not by trying to repeat the process in middle age, not through vicariously living through my children, nor through any other means. But what is offered to me is the opportunity for all these forks in my destiny to be redeemed and made holy through being grafted to the Grand Story of how our Saviour is redeeming and remaking our world.