Saturday, 27 June 2015

Depressing CBeebies Reinterpretations

I have delved into the murky waters of CBeebies shows before, but if I'm honest, I would have to admit that I lacked conviction. My husband, on the other hand, does not. When I planted the seed in his head that these shows were open to reinterpretation, his dark little mind ran with the idea. Soon, he was coming to me with some truly depressing explanations for the seemingly bizarre plot-lines that we were subjecting our child to.

After that, it became something of an obsession. It began with his reasoning behind Old Jack's Boat and Mr Tumble, but led us to some pretty gloomy corners of our own brains. Because misery likes company, I've decided to share some of them with you.


Old Jack's Boat



Ah, Staithes; the place that our bleak, bleak journey began. I innocently wondered aloud one day why Jack's boat, The Rainbow, looked all rusty and decrepit right up until Jack walked aboard, when it would spring into bright, fresh colour. 

As I have already explained, my husband is quite dark, and a few days later he proposed a theory. His explanation for why the boat only seemed to sparkle with life when Jack was on board was that, actually, Jack has a severe case of Alzheimer's Disease.

Mr Meaney reckons that The Rainbow is exactly as rusty and un-seaworthy as we see it in the harbour. Jack, however, only remembers the boat how it was, and when it changes we're merely getting a glimpse into the mind of a horrendously confused old man who think his boat is still shiny and new.

This theory also goes some way to explaining Jack's fairly fantastical stories and why the locals of Staithes insist on talking to him with grating condescension.


Something Special



As if I wasn't feeling sad enough about the fact that Old Jack was slowly losing his mind, my husband then decided to move onto another family favourite: one Mr Tumble of Something Special fame. I cringed away; our boy loves Mr Tumble and I wasn't sure if I wanted to hear the sad stories behind his red nose and spotty bag. Unfortunately, I was hooked; I had to know what horrors my husband's brain was capable of cooking up.

There are several members of the Tumble family with which our hero interacts. We have Aunt Polly, Grandad Tumble, Lord Tumble, Fisherman Tumble and Baker Tumble, all of whom look exactly like Mr Tumble, but each wears a different variation of his trademark outfit. 

In steps Mr Meaney...

Mr Tumble is in a home. He has severe learning disabilities and requires round the clock care to make sure that he gets everything that he needs. Sadly, however, his parents were unable to cope with the difficulties that their son placed on them and have abandoned him completely. 

With no family coming to visit him, he creates the Tumble family in his own head. Dressing up in simple costumes (Aunt Polly's hat aside), he brings each character to life and engages with the family that he never had to stave off the crushing loneliness that he would otherwise face.

It also explains his proficiency with Makaton sign language.


Teacup Travels


Inspired (and completely depressed) by Mr Meaney's ideas, I decided to tackle a show myself. Namely Teacup Travels, in which two children, Elliott and Charlotte, visit incredible distant lands via the stories of their Great Aunt Lizzie and her precious teacup collection.

It's pretty obvious where my brain went with this one: Lizzie is drugging the children. I don't know why, perhaps she just worships chaos, but she is slipping hallucinogenics into those children's teacups, sitting back and relishing the results.

There are certain things that back up this theory, quite apart from the children in question being under the illusion that they're genuinely in ancient Rome/Egypt/China the second they take a sip of her 'tea'.

The children's mother features in both the opening and closing credits, dropping them off with Great Aunt Lizzie. Lizzie's very title would suggest that the two women are somehow related, even if by marriage only, yet the mother never steps foot on the property; she simply sends a child through the gate and leaves. When she returns to collect them, she waits again on the other side of the gate and never, ever goes inside or speaks to Lizzie directly. She also only ever drops off one child at a time.

Elliott and Charlotte's mother is desperately in debt. Lizzie is no relation to any of them, but she enjoys 'spending time' with the woman's offspring and pays generously for the chance to do so. The mother knows that something is wrong, but she needs the money, yet she absolves her guilt slightly by only ever subjecting one child to Lizzie's game at a time.

Bing


After that, I decided to take another look at Bing; the big bunny with the big heart. 

Bing confuses a lot of people, mostly because the parent type characters appear to be some kind of rag doll type things that the youngsters call by name. Also, why can't Pando keep his bloody trousers on for more than a minute at a time?

I can answer both of those questions. Bing and his friends are foster children. The little rag doll things aren't their parents and, although the nice people at social services have tried to match them with someone as similar to them as possible, they haven't quite found that perfect fit.

The adults are nice, however, and the children are largely happy despite their turbulent early starts in life. Sadly, some behavioural anomalies still remain. Bing, for example, has trouble coping with day to day life and is almost completely unable to follow simple instructions. And that sodding panda just can't stop taking his clothes off.

Happy watching...

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Second Baby Syndrome

There are certain questions that people tend towards asking when they see that a woman is pregnant:

1. When is it due?
2. Do you know what you're having?
3. Is this your first baby?

And it's this third question that I'm here to discuss today. In fact, I'm as guilty of this as anyone; I found myself asking a girl just the other day if the small human concealed under her considerable bump was to be her first. She said yes and I cooed and reassured her that it wasn't nearly as horrendous as people liked to make you believe. All in all, it was a rather lovely moment.

When I was pregnant with Blake, the same thing would happen; people would get so excited for me when I told them that he was to be my first child and made such a fuss of me and my ever-expanding belly. 

This time it's different. This time people ask me if the baby is to be my first and I respond with "no, my second" and, more often than not, the response is a slightly disappointed sounding "oh" and a change of subject. People just don't seem to really care about subsequent children.

I'm not complaining as such, because I'm just as bad. We toyed with the idea of not bothering to announce the pregnancy because we just didn't expect people to care. Not only that but I haven't really given the person growing inside me much thought. It's only now that I can feel it moving that I regularly even remember that I'm having another baby in a few months. Partly, I think this is because I simply don't have the time for sitting around and mooning over what my child might look like this time around. When Blake was still on the inside, I would spend hours each day obsessing over him. In short, my mind was completely preoccupied by my son. Well, my mind is still completely preoccupied by him, and the poor little one in my womb is having to settle for filling little gaps in my consciousness. 

Perhaps this is all to do with the fact that the mother knows what to expect with subsequent pregnancies and births. People are less compelled to give out advice because she simply doesn't need it, while she's less likely to give much thought to the pregnancy because she knows just how much feeling like shit is normal. Instead of obsessing over every ache and pain or googling gender prediction old wives' tales, veteran mums are far more likely to take the whole thing in their stride (between the vomiting if they're anything like me).

I do feel sorry for the child though. They haven't even been born yet and already they're having to compete with Blake for attention. There's also a very real chance that there's going to be a third (especially if this one is another boy), so they're probably going to have Middle Child Syndrome to deal with at some point too.

Poor baby number two. I think I'll spend some time rubbing my bump and telling it that I love it tonight. You know, just so it doesn't feel quite so left out...

"Hello? Is anyone listening out there?"