Monday, October 08, 2007


It is one of life’s real, real pleasures watching a new grandchild taking their first steps in the world, both literally and metaphorically. Grandchild No.3 is now 16 months old, and walking like a good’un, as well as starting to speak. Today, I taught him the word “Excellent”, to be spoken each time after building up a pile of five building blocks, and then demolishing them with something that looks as if it could develop into a very useful late Cover Drive in years to come.

The second year of a child’s life brings on some remarkable, and really rather humbling changes – walking, talking, a sense of humour, and the simple genius of interaction.

There is however a downside. I thought that, having gone through the cycle twice already with Nos. 1 and 2, that my days with Bob the Builder would now be over.

But No.

As a result of the march of technology, we now have it on DVD rather than a Video tape, but the change of medium does nothing to reduce its Irritation Quotient. Even the introductory music gets at you. You can’t bear the thought that people who you want to look up to you (you know who you are!), will hear you humming it or even worse, singing the words. But it’s so infectious that you find yourself coming out with it, and an incipient sense of almost self loathing comes over you as, in spite of your efforts, you can’t get it out of your mind.

But it’s the “cast” of characters which gets me. Bob’s such a wus – as a role model to the under threes for the male of the species, he’s a complete disaster. It always has to be him who staples his mobile phone under the asphalt roof he’s just redone. It’s always him that makes a fool of himself. And, always humourlessly pointing out the errors of Bob’s way’s there’s that ghastly, simpering, whining female Wendy, who as far as I can see has never, ever done anything wrong. If she is the style upon which society’s “new females” base themselves, then I can understand how Hazel Blears and the like have got to where they are. And what about Wendy’s sister, Jenny? It is difficult to get the word “tart” out of your mind here.

The really awful thing about it all is that the episodes that I watched, or at least were on when I was in the room today, were written by a man. What’s this guy doing? Whose side is he on?

We need to get a few episodes written by someone like Geoffrey Boycott or Michael Winner or even Ricky Gervais – TV is supposed to be a matter of balance after all. We need Bob ringing Wendy telling her in no uncertain terms to get the dinner on, and clean the whippets out – and NOW!

And what about the machines? We have a digger called Lofty who is afraid of heights (male, you’ll notice), and a range of other dysfunctional creations aimed at moulding today's under fives’ characters. Oh, and particularly nauseating is the little cement mixer Dizzy, who, in each introduction to the programme, overtakes some of the other machines like an idiot on the blind side of a hill, and clearly needs to be done for “due care and attention”. She (at least I think it’s female), is really irritating and, in my balanced view, needs a bit of a slap.

The Jesuit comment of "Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man." comes to mind. If this is what we give the toddlers of today as aspiration, I start to worry about the horde of individuals whom I need to earn the money to pay my pension.

To think that grandchild No. 3 is going to have to fight not only the world, but also the massed band of Bob’s worryingly unnerving collaborators. If he manages to grow up along the straight and narrow after being subjected to all that, he’ll have played a blinder.

Bring back Muffin the Mule!



1 comment:

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