Monday, August 21, 2006

21 August 2006: Bagpuss

As I write this, I'm finishing some very nice home-made peach cobbler for lunch and listening to last week's movie reviews from Mark Kermode (which, by the way, is quite comfortably the best thing on the radio, and that includes Le Show and Test Match Special). Chapters six and seven will continue this afternoon, but I thought it was important to catch up with what the good doctor thought of 'Snakes on a Plane' (answer: "not as unutterably terrible as you might think it might be").

Kermode's reviews are normally a great source of education, information and entertainment (thus clearly belonging on the BBC), more entertaining than anything when a truly-awful-but-clearly-going-to-make-lots-of-money blockbuster comes out and Kermode sets off on one of his rants. Dig out the archives for Star Wars III: Return of the Sith ("better than the first one, but then so is slamming your head in a car door") or the more recent Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest for prime, glorious examples.

And now I'm starting to wonder if my eldest nephew Matt might be headed the same way. He just turned four, and for his birthday it was decreed by all concerned that it would be a darn fine time to introduce him to Bagpuss. Emily's cat Bagpuss. I had to 'check' the DVD before wrapping it up, of course, and enjoyed a wonderful episode which featured a highly-extended version of 'row row row your boat' which led to the mice going on strike. So we packaged it up, along with a Lewis Carrol nonsense verse book to keep the his parents happy, and off we went to Salisbury.

Reports came back the following day that Matt had, at first, been greatly confused by Bagpuss: specifically, he was deeply uncertain about the relatively enormous cat and he asked if it was going to eat the mice from the mouse-organ. My first reaction: ha ha, how silly, it's Bagpuss! My second reaction: hang on a minute, he's got a point.

And the point is this: not that Bagpuss is some shadowy film-noir short with hidden depths and dark overtones (although frankly the relationship between the doll and the toad has to be looked into), nor that Bagpuss perhaps was just toying with them all, giving and taking their consciousness at his own whims, but that if you looked at it from a completely neutral perspective, never knowing anything about Bagpuss, the question Matt asked is exactly the question you should ask. And I never have asked that question, not once in my thirty-one years.

Neither has anyone else, it seems. Do a Google search on: Bagpuss "eat the mice" and it comes up blank. Nobody else has ever thought of this. So now I'm wondering if Matt is actually gifted at seeing plots and characterisations that go beyond anything the normal punter would see. And if that is the case, all we need to do is train him to talk at two hundred words per minute without notes, and Dr Kermode's position should be under threat.

Meantime I'm off to finish chapter six and consider what truly was going on with Dougal and the Blue Cat. Maybe Matt can advise me.

1 comment:

DuncMcRae said...

Of course, after a week online, Google picked up on this entry and now there *is* a result for the Google query: Bagpuss "eat the mice". This blog. Which goes to prove the old quantum theory that just observing a phenomenon affects it in some way.