Good Old Bod

BodI loved Bod with his funny walk, bald head and apple pip eyes. All the characters had their own theme music including pom-pom-pom music for the policeman who had a plodding walk. Bod’s music was a chirpy little piccolo or flute. At the beginning you’d just see a blank screen with a little dot getting bigger and eventually this would turn into Bod or one of the other characters. You had to guess who it was going to be.

The actual program was called Here Comes Bod, I think, but we always called it simply Bod. The animation was minimal with the only things that moved on a character being the legs and the backgrounds were block colour. When they were walking towards the viewer, they just got bigger and their legs went up and down. It was very funny. The story was narrated so the characters didn’t even have to open their mouths and their speech was reported. As far as I can tell from research, the show was based on a series of books, though I don’t remember ever seeing the books. There is a current Here Comes Bod website, but no more Bod shows only repeats.

To watch it now is amazing nostalgia, not only for the simplistic animation compared to today’s children’s programs but for the fact that all the characters are white and holed up into nice little gender and class categories. Although interestingly the creators assert that Bod means anything with no race or gender. According to an interview with the adult children of the creators of Bod, there is a deep philosophical significance behind the program. I didn’t notice it as a child, possibly because everything was magical and philosophical to me back then. Great marketing though! They did it with Pooh Bear, now they’re doing it with Bod.

Bod and friends

 Each episode was only five minutes long according to wikipedia, but strangely I remember them as being longer. Maybe that’s just my faulty memory. At the end of the Bod adventure, there was another mini program within the program (see the post-modern metatextuality there?) about Alberto Frog and his travelling band. The band was made up of different animals and they usually had to play somewhere – the frog was the conductor. Then Alberto would ask for a milkshake and you had to guess which flavour he would choose. I didn’t like the Alberto Frog bit as much as I liked Bod. I think it was because I didn’t like how the Alberto narrator talked, and listening to her on youtube I can understand why, because I never did respond well to being patronised.


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

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Captain Pugwash

Captain Pugwash with Tom the Cabin BoyOne of my favourite cartoons in the Seventies was Captain Pugwash. Although the last series was produced in 1975 (according to Wikipedia) I remember watching it throughout the Seventies, so was probably watching repeats.

Contrary to popular urban mythology, there was no Seaman Stains or Master Bates. I do remember references to Tom the Cabin Boy being ‘the Captain’s favourite cabin boy’ but that’s about the most innuendo that I can recall.

Captain Pugwash was a pirate but a nice one, not the nasty sort. He was funny and had a lot of funny swearwords, the only one of which I remember is ‘shiver me timbers’ but Wikipedia has a nice long list.

The animation style is minimal, like cardboard cutouts that move around on fixed backgrounds. You can see this from clips on YouTube. The modern reinvented Pugwash uses computer animation which is not so endearing.


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

Catweazle

Geoffrey Bayldon as CatweazleI loved Catweazle! I love cats and always have, and I wanted to be Catweazle because he lived wild, was a magician and completely barmy. Oh and he went around in raggedy old clothes and didn’t care how dirty he got. That would have been me at age around six. Catweazle has nothing to do with cats, by the way, but with the name and his whiskers there’s a link.

Catweazle had a frog called Touchwood (sounds a lot like Torchwood doesn’t it??) and he had funny names for things like he called the telephone the ‘telling bone’. There was a lot of real magic in the program, scrying and runes and things that are authentic for his period (1066, Catweazle was a Saxon). There aren’t a great many special effects in the program, as it was a budget British 1970 TV show, but some great acting. I always got the feeling that it was ‘proper’ magic rather than flash-bangs, and now I’ve found a photo of him I know for sure. Whoever designed the costume either was pagan themselves or knew someone who was.

In the beginning, Catweazle is escaping the Norman soldiers and accidentally escapes into a 1970 farm. There he meets the farmer’s son, Edward, and the first thing he says is ‘art thou Norman?’ to which Ed replies, ‘no my name’s Edward.’ Classic. I remembered this scene from the book, which I read when I was about nine.

In some ways, Catweazle is similar to Wurzel Gummidge who was a scarecrow that came to life. I loved Wurzel Gummidge but I loved Catweazle more because of the magic. According to Wikipedia, the programme was also popular in New Zealand, The Netherlands, Germany, Australia, Sweden and Norway. There is a fan club and you can order the DVDs on Amazon.


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night

Saturday Night Fever the film based on a journalistic lieThis article appeared in the New York Magazine in 1976 and is the inspiration of the 1977 film Saturday Night Fever.

The article was an exposé of the disco scene. However, according to Wikipedia, it was pure fiction, the author Nik Cohn not having done any research on the disco scene.

This is not just wikipedia being notoriously unreliable. Nik Cohn has admitted himself that the character Vincent, (on whom John Travolta’s Tony is based) “was largely inspired by a Shepherd’s Bush mod whom I’d known in the Sixties.” He got away with it apparently because the mod culture in London was similar to the disco subculture in Brooklyn.

I wonder how much more investigative reporting is fabricated? Perhaps everything on which we base our beliefs and values is a total lie. I’ve always known that you shouldn’t believe everything you read in the newspapers but this one really takes the biscuit!

Tune in next week when I’ll reveal that the Osmonds are my cousins from Darlaston in the West Midlands and Madonna is my gran from Bearwood in Birmingham. Natch.


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

Books with no Cover

A big pile of books with no cover imagesWhen was the last time you bought a book with no cover? I don’t mean that it literally had no cover, but that the cover was plain, with only the title and author name, which amounts to the same thing.

My betting is that unless you are a second-hand bookshop aficionado, you haven’t bought a plain cover book for a long time. If you have then it was because it was a book that you already knew you were going to buy, either a classic in retro-hardback, or from a reading list on a course you’re studying.

The thing is that when I was growing up in the Seventies it was quite unusual for me to find books with bright cover art. I’m not saying there weren’t any at all – I’ve seen the old lesbian pulp fiction covers of Ann Bannon, and the sci-fi pulp and westerns as well. But in our house, in the school and in the library, most books were hardback and had that very plain fake leather with gold writing.

Was it snob value? I think it was probably that coloured covers were more expensive. Most children’s books were illustrated but with line drawings or ‘plate’ images which were a full page of colour within the book and on a different type of paper. There were some children’s books with line drawings embossed on the cover, The Secret Seven comes to mind here.

My novel, SilenceI’m not complaining at all. I think that the cover of my own novel Silence will have a very positive effect on the sales. When it comes to a new author you need all the help you can get in enticing people to pick up the book. But sometimes when I walk into a bookshop I feel assailed from all angles by the lurid designs.

It’s getting to be one-upmanship where the next thing you know there’ll be flashing neon signs on a book cover saying ‘buy this’! Hey that’s not such a bad idea, maybe I’ll get onto my publisher…


 Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

Vesta Curry and Two LPs

Laura McWhinney sent me her post after reading the article in Mensa Magazine.

Vesta Beef Curry - aah takes me right back!I was born in 1966 and remember the 70’s as my formative years- maybe that explains a lot.

As far as food went anything goes was the attitude. A Vesta dehydrated curry on a Saturday night, reconstituted in a frying pan for 20 mins followed by peach melba with almost flourescent raspberry sauce was the height of sophistication in my home.

For a treat it was hot ‘coloured custard’ over sponge cake, this was pink blancmange made up with milk and served hot.

Spangles! At www.escape-to-the-seventies.comWe all had enough pocket money for numerous packets of spangles in many different flavours including ‘Old English’??? and Chipmunk crisps at two and a half pence a bag in abundance. I think Chipmunk was a brand rather than a flavour. Giant sticks of Bazooka bubble gum were only 3 pence, so you still had enough money for a Bunty comic or later Blue Jeans – heaven.

Seat belts were not compulsory and once when driving out of a big town car park with me in the front seat of our big Corsair automatic car I was flung sprawling across the car park as I’d been leaning on the door and it swung open – we did laugh!

Summers were great as you could go out after breakfast to play with friends and wander home when you felt hungry, parents didn’t need to worry as life was somehow safer.

The day the stereo system arrived and TWO L.P’s was very exciting, unfortunately it was a very long time until we could afford any more L.P’s so Mama Cass and Glen Campbell were played until I really grew to hate them.

Some of my friends that were maybe a bit older had their rooms papered with Red Tartan wallpaper as they were Bay City Rollers fans – I had to make do with huge purple flowers on my walls, they almost went with the swirly floral carpet and nearly matched the printed floral bedspread!

Beds used to take 20 minutes to make, as there were several layers of prickly blankets, under the bedspread no easy duvet to shake and drop.

The War of the Worlds Musical – Jeff Wayne

Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds album cover Art by Geoff Taylor, 1976My mum bought this album in 1978 and I listened to it loads over the following years. It was my first experience of science fiction and established a lifelong interest in this genre. I read the inside cover and studied the pictures intensely while listening to the music. I was fascinated by the ideas this story conveyed.

The actual book The War of the Worlds was written by HG Wells in 1898 and has had such influence on the modern age that it has been made into numerous films, a radio adaptations and has influenced many other books. See Wikipedia disambiguation for a full list.

Following my obsession with the Jeff Wayne music, I read science fiction voraciously, John Wyndham, Arthur C Clark, Isaac Asimov, and ultimately HG Wells himself. There was something chilling about the concept of an alien invasion and the people of earth being like ants in our ability to defend ourselves. The music was and still is evocative of this chilling sense of despair, and right at the end a tiny point of hope.

The chances of anyone coming from Mars are a million to one, she said. The chances of anyone coming from Mars are a million to one, but still they come.

See, I’ve got goosebumps.


 Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room