In the Night Garden

Yesterday evening then to Sefton Park in Liverpool and an encounter with my new friends and current TV fave rave: the gang from the young children’s programme ‘In the Night Garden’. It’s been a long time since I was able to watch children’s TV with impunity, having for a very long time been without the perfect excuse of having young children myself: however, now that my third age and grandparenthood is here, I can indulge my return to childhood pleasures in my dotage and blame it on my grandson: ‘well, you have to watch with them don’t you?’ However, for all you people out there who have no ready excuse to return to infancy watching pleasures, let me introduce you to my new friends. There’s Iggle Piggle, a sky-blue, pyjama clad, figure who has a natty line in dancing. Then there’s Upsa Daisy, who transfixes the forest with her whale- like croonings, all broadcast across the wood through a great megaphone. Macka Packa is a strange doughnut-like creature, who spends his days wheeling a cycle affair around the glades seeking whom  he may help out by washing their faces. Incidental characters are the Tombli Boos, three cheerful and rag doll haired individuals who simply join in any fun that is going, and the Pontipines: a family of ten small fairy-like creatures dressed in red. All this, and the two miraculous forms of transport: the Ninky Nonk and the flying Pinky Ponk.

‘Has he gone mad?’ I hear you gasp. Well, no, actually, or, if I have, then I was joined by five hundred other fanatics of all ages in an inflatable theatre in Sefton Park-and this was the fourth show of the day!

It was wonderful to hear everyone join in the fun. The loudest cheers came from the parents and grandparents of the little ones when Iggle Piggle appeared, and there were many, very adult sounding,voices joining in Upsa Daisy’s song. You see, childhood is full of mystery, wonder and magic and the genius of such children’s shows is that they know this and add to the sense of miracle for young and old alike. We older, more cynical and world-weary adults, were happy to suspend belief for just a few moments and return to looking at the world through the eyes of the unpolluted and credulous child. My daughter recently returned home with a home-made treasure chest, fashioned from cardboard and gold paper. Inside, there were cutouts of fairies and elves. The gift was destined for a neighbour’s child who had told her that he didn’t believe in magic. ‘You can’t have a childhood without magic’ said my daughter, so the mystical treasure chest would find its way to the quizzical child.

Now, I can guess that some folk out there will be saying that they have got me at last, and that my desire to re-visit the wonder of being young shows that my belief in God is merely an extension of my desire for the land of my childhood. Well, they would be wrong, I’m perfectly happy to live in the crazy, painful, mixed up and often horrifying world we adults have created for ourselves, with all its wars and suffering but with also its potential for great beauty and joy. But I am drawn back to those words of Jesus when he himself drew children to him and told we cynical and world damaged adults to make ourselves like them. Not childish you understand, but childlike. Make ourselves once more into those people who look out on the world and experience it full of wonder and awe: pregnant with possibility and promise. More-so much more- than the prosaic world we often make it. It was probably that sense that made me and all those other silly parents and grandparents join in Upsa Daisy’s song with such gusto and unself-conscious delight, and made us wonder whether once, just once, we might get a ride in a Ninky Nonk or even a Pinky Ponk to the delightful and heavenly places.

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~ by Tim Ellis on August 2, 2010.

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