Sunday, 12 February 2012

Saggy old cloth cat

One of my strongest and least expected reactions to becoming a parent 7 and a half years ago was to develop a strong antipathy to many aspects of modern life. Here was this tiny bundle, all pure and innocent, and we'd brought her into a world that, all of a sudden, seemed dirty and dangerous. Watching TV and reading the newspaper seemed to bring into our home a world that revered the shallow and stupid, that valued the acquisition of ludicrously expensive consumer goods above all else, a world where skimpily dressed popstars cavorting and singing totally inappropriate songs were hailed as role-models for little girls. I wanted to protect the Beautiful Girl from all of this. I wanted to deny the fact that we live in a slightly run-down suburb of the second largest city and instead move to a gingerbread cottage in a wood somewhere. In short, I wanted her to grow up in the 1950s.

I did what I could. I ignored the pink sparkly T-shirts with "Babe" written on them and dressed her in dungarees and duffell coats and Mary-Janes. I read her books by Shirley Hughes and Enid Blyton and sang old-fashioned nursery rhymes. I banned any TV channels that included adverts and instead she watched CBeebies and an old Bagpuss DVD. She - we - loved Bagpuss. It was gentle and quiet and thoughtful and it had the best music. I bought the soundtrack and we listened to it over and over. In the car, in her bedroom playing with her toys, in the bathroom while she splashed amongst the bubbles. We listened to it so much that the CD started to stick and jump in odd places. Bagpuss provided the soundtrack to the Beautiful Girl's early childhood.

A couple of weeks ago I saw that Sandra Kerr and John Faulkener, the respected folk singers who wrote and sang the Bagpuss soundtrack (aka Madeline the rag doll and Gabriel the toad) were bringing the songs and music of Bagpuss to our local arts centre. And it was wonderful to listen to those songs again. Here, for you, is my favourite....


  1. I completely missed Bagpuss but not the wonderful narrator Oliver Postgate, whose voice I recognise from Ivor the Engine and Noggin the Nog. But we had everything by Shirley Hughes and all the nursery rhymes!

  2. The Church mice...oh how I loved those mice (can't stand the real thing though!)