Monday, 27 December 2010

Bring Me The Head Of Julia Donaldson

So here it is: the limbo-like no-man’s-land period between Christmas and New Year.

Christmas for us involved loads of fun stuff but also the usual over-indulgence and getting of unnecessary gifts. While out for a ginger walk round our icy streets on the afternoon of the 25th we saw one wise man stuffing his car boot full of packaging and torn wrapping paper, ready for an early run to the soon-to-be-popular recycling depot.

Mind you, the advice on whether you can recycle wrapping paper is pretty ambiguous. Most wrap has metallic or plastic particles, not to mention sticky tape, which makes it hard to process.

Speaking of hard to process, if I have to watch The Gruffalo or Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs one more time I may slip into a sweet animation induced coma.

Todder Who Must Be Obeyed was being fractious the week before Christmas and Wife Features buckled, tearing The Gruffalo DVD from its festive wrapping and shoving it in the machine. TWMBO was utterly enthralled for all 27 minutes. Again, again!

It’s basically been on a loop since then. It’s almost a kind of white noise, a general hubbub, an orange-eyed, purple-prickled wallpaper.

Yours truly has simply added another layer to this cartoon white noise by giving a gift of the Disney classic Snow White. Something sweet and innocent I thought, unlike the cruel and crude children’s films of today. (I recently had to stop a screening of Happy Feet because the animated lady penguins kick off proceedings by shaking their tail feathers and singing Prince’s ’Kiss’. That’s right baby, you don’t have to be cool to turn me on!)

So, Snow White will be as innocent as its name suggests, right? Wrong. Within the first seven minutes of this almost-decade old film there’s a genuinely creepy face in the mirror on the wall that made TWMBO run for cover, the Queen asks a huntsman to take Snow White into the woods and kill her, and to prove he’s done it he’s told to bring back her heart in a box. Happy Christmas little children everywhere!

In the end it’s a wonderful film full of completely charming set pieces (Hi-ho!) and is at least an alternative to the Gruffalo-thon.

For years I lived without a telly and I wonder what my little person would turn out like growing up without TV. Having said that I am the world’s biggest film fan (Guinness Book of Records currently adjudicating) and actually approve of some children’s programmes. (How can you object to the dancing shapes on Mister Maker? Or bumbling explorer Rapids ’Keep em peeled’ Johnson from Gigglebiz?)

While TWMBO got the Gruffalo and Snow White to start her DVD collection, Wife Features was lucky enough to earn a box set of early Columbo mysteries. I don’t half spoil the little lady.

It turns out not only does Wife Features have great taste in husbands but in old telly. Peter Falk really does ratchet up the tension with his crumpled raincoat-wearing, cigar chomping, head-scratching detective who on one hand seems to be baffled and out of his depth yet on the other is ultra-observant and unnervingly smart. And at the end of the first episode some real twists. Music by? Henry Mancini. Directed by? Just some guy called Spielberg.

It was enough to make me want to watch it again.

But perhaps not quite as many times as I’ve seen the Gruffalo.

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