A short while back my brother and I found ourselves the only two adults in a cinema hall without an accompanying child with them. It made sense, given the movie we were about to watch: Postman Pat: The Movie.
The reason why we parted ways with almost a tenner for this feature that was definitely not directed at our age group was actually quite simple: nostalgia. My brother, now 30, was born in the UK in the mid80s, at a time when we as a family lived in a quaint northern city called Durham.He spent his first four years in this country, and as things go, there were bits and pieces of the pastthat come floating back into our consciousness now that we live here three decades later.
And one of these things was Postman Pat. A staple of the postlunch lineup, I remember it beingshown at 1.55pm, just after Neighbours, the Australian soap that is actually a stronger part of my UK childhood than Coronation Street or Eastenders ever was. So much in love with Pat was mybrother that if he were to be napping, the sound of the end credits music of Neighbours wouldwake him because it was a signal that Postman Pat was about to begin.
Of course, Postman Pat v.2014 is quite different from v.1985 although he still lives in Greendale and yes, that little black and white cat has outlived many other felines. These changes have been introduced over the years so if you watched the series over the past decade, things like the Special Delivery helicopter, the presence of a Mrs Pat and son Julian as well as a more multicultural Greendale would be familiar. Having reorientated my TV watching tastes towards fare more suited for my age group, I was not quite aware of these changes, so the movie was nice in a way, but I also felt a bit betrayed by the corruption of my memories.
Children growing up in the 1980s in the UK have had quite a lot to feel betrayed about over the past few years, and not in a good way. Recent child abuse and paedophile cases involving celebrities that shaped our childhood made me shudder. If you didn’t live in the UK in the 1970s or 1980s, the name Jimmy Saville may not be all that familiar, but if you did, his ubiquitousness permeated television sets of days yore. During a time when the UK really had just four TV channels, Saville featured quite a lot on them but my favourite of his programs was Jim’ll Fix It.
This was a show where kids would write in to dear old Jimmy who appeared on TV as the nice uncle you’d never had with their wishes and he’d try to fulfil them. This ranged from wanting to be a firefighter to spending a day with one’s favourite rugby player Jimmy Saville played the role of fixer to the desires of many a youngster. One of my friends even appeared on the show: she wrote in saying she wanted to be a princess for a day; and voila, Jim fixed it.
He was always a bachelor, was Jim, and I thought this was just a euphemism for him being gay. Turned out his secret was not that harmless – in fact, it was horrific. The UK police are investigating the institutionalisation of practices that allowed him to get away with what he did, and part of that unpacking revealed another series of sexual abuse towards childred, perpetrated by another icon of my UK childhood days: Rolf Harris.
Rolf Harris was known for many things one of the UK’s favourite Australian (the other being Rod Hull’s Emu) but he entertained me the most by way of his drawings. My favourite show was one where he would illustrate, or begin to illustrate, a much loved cartoon character. As the character took form, he would say the catchphrase: “Can you see who it is yet?” before the show then segues to a five minute cartoon clip: often a Looney Tunes or Tom & Jerry clip which he was drawing before. At the end of the cartoon, Rolf would have finished the drawing.. and he’d start another.
Oh the hours me and my sister spent on guessing the cartoon character… and now the thought that this guy… urghh.