Raymond Briggs, Castles and Irn Bru.

December 21, 2008

Today it rained like nobodies business… A bit crap considering it hasn’t rained in about 4 weeks and it’s my day off.

I’ve had a headache all day so I sat in my apartment trying to muster some Christmas spirit. Tried listening to Mariah Carey on repeat for a while and felt mildly stirred, enough to have a tidy up anyways. Then I watched some Christmasy films – A Little Princess, The Secret Garden, All Dogs go to Heaven – not about Christmas per se, but they remind me of my childhood and of Christmas Telly. Its quite strange watching films you remember from being tiny. I can remember watching the actress who played Mary Lennox on ‘Live and Kicking’ one Saturday morning and being really pissed off  because someone else was playing my character and I had been growing my hair for ages just waiting to be asked to play the part, odd logic – but I was an odd child.

 Anyway, when I was 9 my brother was very sick so my parents sent me to stay on my cousins’ farm on the Yorkshire Moors (ha ha – that sounds like its right out of a Frances Hodgson Burnett novel right there!!!). I wasn’t going to school so I spent an awful lot of time on my own or with my Aunt going on walks in the country side. The wonderful thing was they lived in the grounds of Allerton Castle – where the 1993 adaptation of ‘The Secret Garden’ was filmed. I spent ages wandering around the grounds of the farm attempting to befriend Robins, on the lookout for any hearty looking boys possibly called Dicken and being generally lost in my own world.

castle Alerton Castle, North Yorkshire

Watching Curon’s ‘A Little Princess’ was fabulous. It’s so well designed and the acting is superb – I can even forgive the bastardisation of Hodgson Burnett’s original narrative for those adorable green bows and rag curls. Incidently, I want to live in that Edwardian house with its greens and polished wood. It’s all silver hand mirrors, hair pins, fireplaces and echoes of Indian aesthetics.


What really got me feeling Christmassy was watching Raymond Briggs’ ‘Father Christmas’. I haven’t watched ‘The Snowman’ yet… I still have five days til Christmas and I don’t want to be a homesick, snowman-mourning mess quite yet. Usually I save that for a Gin soaked Christmas Eve.  For anyone who doesn’t know them, here are both of the animations, they used to be aired every Christmas Eve on Channel 4 in England and whilst cute and funny they have really sad undertones – especially ‘The Snowman’ – I won’t spoil it but my god. You are going to bawl.

‘Father Christmas’

‘The Snowman’ – watch with caution. You have been warned. (Oh! I forgot that David Bowie does the intro to the story!!)

Briggs’ non Christmassy work is brilliant too – I love it’s echoes of pre-eighties Britain – its all back to back terraced houses and outside lavatories. Throughout his work there are some beautiful touches such as an old Andersen air raid shelter used to house the reindeer in ‘Father Christmas’, the GPO post bag the postman carries and that slightly overstuffed three piece suite feeling of Father Christmas’ living room.

 ‘Fungus the Bogeyman’, ‘When the wind blows’ – I had all those books as a child and they in turn traumatised and intrigued me. As  good children’s books should do.

Proper traumatic when your 6 ...

Proper traumatic when your 6 ...

Re-reading them now is, again,  strange – trying to identify why they are so weird. The stories seem to belong to a world of my parents and brothers – the Bogey world seems a thin veil for the grimness of the 3 day working weeks, Coal miner’s strikes and Thatcherite politics that made Seventies and Eighties Britain a bit of a bogeyhole* in its own right.

Also – I know Raymond Briggs hates the fact that Irn Bru used his character to promote their drink but I love this advert – Mostly bcause I love Scotland and there are several scenes over Edinburgh – one of my favorite cities in the world.

*Bogeyhole – the hole down into the earth where the bogeymen lived.


  1. I think iron bru is stinking, do you actually like it?

  2. i like the iron bru bars but not the actual drink really…lol…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: