Friday, 12 December 2008

Who knew the Clangers were pink?

The news is full of praise for Oliver Postgate. If nothing else it reflects the age of those editing the news. Like me, they must have grown up with and loved those surreal, utterly captivating and made-with-bits-of-fabric-and-tin-found-in-the-shed props that populated Bagpuss, Noggin the Nog and the Clangers. I must have watched it on a black and white telly, as I remember the Clangers as grey, while all the photos (and Youtube clips) reveal them as baby pink, and more reminiscent of George, the hippo who starred with Zippy, than a moon-based knitted mouse with an anteater nose should be.
A schoolfriend nick-named me Noggin the Nog for several terms; I never really understood why, but enjoyed the sound it made in my mouth.
I suspect I was getting too old for these delights by the time Bagpuss came on the scene. I liked the soft sepia beginning and end when the soft baggy cat snoozed, but I barely took in the main action; that woodpecker held no charms for me.
I remember the Clangers' soup dragon and the permanent supply of broth from within the bowels of the moon, and as a child I recreated my own version. My bed was its own universe, with everything I needed on hand (comfort, books, warmth, quiet) apart from food. So I imagined little taps and dumbwaiters in the wall by the bed that would deliver goodies on demand. Strangely, favoured deliveries were chicken hearts (the family always argued who got the one from the Sunday roast), and spaghetti - either with meatballs, or in vermicelli form floating in chicken soup. No chocolates or crisps or pop featured, although the odd slice of warm, thickly cut white bread with plenty of unsalted butter surely did, as white was restricted to my Father, and the rest of us gnawed healthily on stoneground wholemeal.
And thinking of animalistic colour surprises, I saw my first kingfisher on the farm this week. Walking across Bull's Field, a particularly marshy, reedy pasture with a deep ditch that runs with spring and rain water no matter the season, I saw a startling bravura of azure rise from beneath the lush ferny undergrowth that curtains the sides of the ditch. It was lost for a moment as it flitted through the black willow branches, and then shone bright against the sky before heading off above the hedgeline. Sometimes it's worth having land so spongy with water that wellies are required footwear even at the height of summer. I wonder if there are fish living in the ditches, or if frog was the plat du jour for my little blue bird?


Arthur Clewley said...

I had a schoolfriend we all called noggin, in fact I can't actually remember his real name. it's sad to lose Postgate, they don't make 'em like him anymore. I'm sure he did desert island discs fairly recently, couple of years ago perhaps, so I hope that gets an airing - very decent man I seem to recall

Arthur Clewley said...

ps I think the pinko clangers were more a reflection of postgate's politics than the hue of your TV