Monday, 1 April 2013

Happy Easter Mr Postgate! by Penny Dolan

Today is an April Fool of an Easter Monday, when the sun should be shining and daffodils dancing and all should look right with the world.

Once the days might have been perfect. Once the cheery sunny days returned after they'd gone, recaptured in pictures projected on machines that had to be balanced on handy bits of furniture.

The projectors had plastic holders where the slides/pictures had to be packed, by hand, in the right order and the right way up. 

(Or was it the wrong way up?)


The images of happy childhood  - and more - appeared as if lit from within, as if their world was the bright truth.

There's a dim echo of that prestigious device in the “ show slideshow” button of every computer image system, but I do feel the showing lacks the drama of the past. People rarely huddle round in well-fed but slightly bored darkness to await the click and the next over-bright image. Or are in danger of a good slap for commenting on Aunty Aggie's visible bloomer line.

Now back when slide projectors were in use, a wonderful and eccentric man was making stories in a large shed. The shed was large because he told his stories with drawings and with puppets. 


His name was Oliver Postgate and - working with the technology of the time - he became the master storyteller of children’s television. 

At least twice a week I give thanks to the Blessed Mr Postgate, because time after time, while struggling through a piece of writing – whether the construction of the whole thing, or the order and arrangement of scenes or even the phrasing of a sentence so the image in my head becomes clear to the young reader - I remember the words found in his not-entirely cheery autobiography “Seeing Things”.

Although he was talking about film making, his explanation of how writing works seems incredibly apt and true.


Think on it and its wiser advice.

Have a Happy Easter Monday! 
(And are you doing Clanger whistling yet?)

Penny Dolan

Images from Wiki Commons. Thank you.


madwippitt said...

Great stuff Penny - so true! And hurrah for the amazing and wonderful Mr Postgate too: my review name on Amazon is nogginthenog! :-)
And aaaah for the nostalgia of the slide show - it was a family event, brought out as a special occasion and everyone came together to watch and comment ... the ritual of the hanging of the white sheet, or finding a blank wall (and later the expense of the specially bought screen)... the comments ... the snacks ... the upside down ones ... it brought us all together in a way that TV programmes never did, for all that they were smarter, cleverer and had moving pictures. Books did much the same unifying effect - in our family anyway, as we all wanted to read the same great books ...
And hurrah

madwippitt said...

Blimmin' Blogger cut me comment off in mid sentence. Never mind, I was starting to waffle anyway!

Farah Mendlesohn said...

When I was still teaching creative writing, one of the assignments was only 1500 words long. I used to show Postgate work to prove that it was possible to produce something layered and sophisticated.

Penny Dolan said...

Good choice, Noggin the Nog! Those slide shows did have an almost dramatic unpredictability about them.

(Note. I am now trying not to think of the inherited boxes of family slides that must be sorted through. One day.)

And, Farah, that sounds such a good choice for your creative writing classes too. They sound as if they were fun. Did you have a favourite episode or character?

With the date being what it is, I'd wondered about putting up something funny and satirical about the world of books or education but so much is becoming unbelievable anyway.

Emma Barnes said...

Ah, have a sudden urge to rush off and find my DVD of Ivor the Engine...all with be well with the world!

Sue Purkiss said...

I hadn't realised how prolific Oliver Postgate was! Oh, those slideshows... "Now here's Dorothy on the steps of the caravan... oh, and here's me on the steps of the caravan..." But we did used to get lovely snacks as a reward!

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

And then there would be the fatal animated moment when the slide changed into a sunset picture before your eyes as the projector overheated and the slide finally blackened into nothing.
I have a scanner that converts slides to images on your computer, Penny, but its a tedious business. Perhaps just save them for your children to throw out one day!!!

madwippitt said...

But Dianne, it's not about the pictures, it's about the whole ritual ... :-)