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Thursday, June 08, 2017

More Politically In-Correct Books and Films

Continuing on the theme begun in my last blog post, what about all those other works of literature, usually aimed at children, as well as films? Just think of a series of books that I read avidly as a child, beginning with "Swallows and Amazons" which were written by Arthur Ransome. They were about a group of children who seem to spend their lives perpetually on holiday in either the Lake District, Norfolk or Essex. The children are John, Susan, Titty and Roger Walker. I don't think, in all honesty, you could have a character called Titty in a book nowadays. Sorry, but the name just causes (sorry for the pun) a titter. You would have to re-name the character for a modern audience. I think it's the fact that they sail their boats on one of the Lake District lakes (I think it must be Windermere, but I'm not sure.) and there's no attempt to them wearing life jackets of any sort. When I was growing up, my father was an avid sailor, and had several yachts, some of which were sailed on the River Ouse near where we lived, mostly at Cardington Mill. We were never allowed in these boats unless we either wore a life jacket (generally a very bright orange or yellow) or we could swim proficiently (about the only decent thing I ever got from going to Rushmoor School was the fact that I learnt to swim). The stories of the Walker children continue in several other books, Pigeon Post, Swallowdale, Peter Duck, Winter Holiday, We Didn't Mean To Go To See. I think he later books might have been set in and around the Essex coast. As we used to go on holiday each year to Frinton-On-Sea, and the inlets in and around Walton-On-Naze, which was a little bit further up the coast from Frinton, this gave the stories a good deal more interest to me because I could picture the places in the books. But I think it's the fact that there's no hint of 'Health and Safety' and neither the fact that they wander around the Lakes and surrounding countryside free from any sort of adult interference. When you consider things like 'Child Protection' today, and the unfortunate stories that have come out recently about child abuse, it makes these stories, although written in the 1930's, even more intriguing. It's sad that today's children don't get the freedom to roam about as the children do in those books. Even when I was growing up in the 1960's there was no such thing as 'Health and Safety' or 'Child Protection.' Infact, when I consider the fact that living on a farm alone had many dangers and perils that would make the place a possible death-trap. We built hideouts in amongst the hay and straw bales, never once thinking that they might collapse on us and suffocate us or even catch fire. I used to make tree-houses, fairly high up in some oaks trees in the garden at Malting Farm. Thinking about it now, I could have easily fallen out of the tree and broken a leg, arm or whatever. You didn't think things like that were in the least bit dangerous in those days, but I suppose children never see the dangers in anything.

Returning to Swallows and Amazons. In the mid-1970's they made a cinema film of the book. It was, by coincidence, at the time I was an A.S.M., working at Century Theatre in Keswick. We did a series of four plays, running in repertoire, and changing every two days. Hard work, to say the least. When they began filming (no doubt on Derwent Water, on which Keswick is near). When we were out looking for props in the town for the plays we were staging, we often got asked whether we were from the film unit. It was also a coincidence that this film had a screenplay written by David Wood    who was in a play that I worked on at Greenwich Theatre called "A Voyage Round My Father" by John Mortimer. The director of the film was Claude Watham who also directed the Mortimer play, as he had done when it was originally done as a 'Play For Today' on BBC Television.

Back on books and films. Just think of Harry Potter. Why didn't the Dursleys, who had young Harry as a lodger (where they actually related? Were they really Harry's aunt and uncle?) Nevertheless, they had Harry under their care, so why did the poor boy end up living under the stairs? Why were they never prosecuted for child abuse? Expecting the child to live in such confined conditions is surely abuse of some sort? Why didn't the authorities intervene?

Then think of Oliver Twist, in particular the musical version, on stage and screen. What are they teaching children if they watch Oliver! That crime seems to pay, perhaps? Teaching youngsters to PICK POCKETS! Really terrible.

I seem to have veered off course about unsuitable or politically un-correct films for children, but never mind. I'll get back on the them in another blog post. It was good to reminisce on various things. The whole point of these blog posts I suppose.
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