Oct 15th - Whipcrack Away!
Being as isolated as we are here in the Cevennes has obvious draw-backs - I haven’t the faintest idea what British teenagers are talking about, for example. It doesn’t matter what they say, I simply don’t understand their world, let alone their slang or their outlook on life. Not that this distresses me much: I only know a very few British teenagers and they are cheerful and kind enough to explaining the basics of modern life to me in words of one syllable.
In any case, the advantages of this poetic isolation far outweigh any drawbacks. The peace and quiet enables me to sleep all day when I feel like it - and we never had any problem getting the baby to sleep either. My serenity is not interrupted by door-to-door salesmen, canvassing politicians, religious cranks or any other type of unwelcome rat-a-tat. Avon ladies simply don’t make it this far into the wilds. The post lady knows to deliver my junk mail directly into the recycling bin and there are no other interlopers: we don’t have television, and we don’t buy newspapers, preferring instead to read the news on the BBC’s wondrous website.
Which means that the kids have never seen fights on soap operas, starving orphans on CNN, car chases in action thrillers, or anything else violent or frightening. Their books tend towards children’s classics with a big emphasis on the Famous Five, and when it comes to films, I confess we don’t even own a copy of Bambi because I didn’t want to introduce a toddler to the idea that mummy might die. Dumbo was tough enough for us frankly, not to mention the Little Princess whose father fails to recognise her!
All of which means we’re pretty much out of step with the world: everyone else accepts a level of aggression and violence which simply doesn’t exist in our peaceful little bubble. And as a result I have to be really careful.
My daughter is practically into her teens but she won’t watch Harry Potter because it’s too scary, and even the Horse Whisperer is too violent for her. (I have to warn her when the horrible bits are coming so she can bury her head in the sofa cushions and hum loudly.)
If only I could cut about 40 seconds out of the film - the close up of the blood-soaked horse in the tunnel with that horrible flesh hanging off his chest, and the shot where you see the rearing horse being hit by the runaway lorry. I really don’t think either of those images add anything to the film, and I don’t understand what they’re doing in what would otherwise be perfect family film. (And how it ever got a PG rating, I’ll never know.)
And I suspect that you’re sitting there shaking your head over my quirkiness, so I’ll just tell you something that really cheered me up this week. In a box of second hand books, I found a Dr Spock childcare manual. Remember him? Anyway, it includes a chapter about violent images. He doesn’t recommend them - and in fact boldly declares that children should be at least seven, if not older, before being allowed to watch even Disney cartoons like Snow White because of the violence in them.
So I might be living in a time warp, but at least I’m in good company and, just in case you fancy joining us, here are ten of our favorites, each and every one guaranteed 100% ketchup-free:
(Howard Keel & Doris Day in jolly musical western)
Some Like It Hot
(Marilyn, Tony Curtis & Jack Lemmon on the run from the mob)
Bringing Up Baby
(Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant and a jazz-loving leopard)
(Parisian schoolgirls, two by two, watch out for that nun)
Singing in the Rain
(Gene Kelly, Donald O Connor & Debbie Reynolds)
(Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyk, et al)
(Buster Keaton does extraordinary stunts on a runaway train)
Bride and Prejudice
(Jane Austen with a Bollywood twist)
The Slipper and the Rose
(Star-studded Cinderella musical)
The Railway Children
Next column will be uploaded around Toussaints.
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