Monday, October 17, 2005

Strange Blue Outing

One of our favourite places along The Thames is Putney. You might know it as the start of The Oxford Camridge Boat Race, a chance to see sporting excellence in action. And not a chance to drink overpriced drinks from about 11am, and vaguely look up for about 5 seconds as the boats go past, no, definitely not.

If you're my age, you may remember the cartoon Mr Benn, that bowler-hatted chap who went to a special shop every week in Festive Road to try on a special costume (yes, yes, I know). What you may not know, if you're enjoying yourself in Putney, is that you're a stroll away from Festing Road, where the creator of the cartoon, David McKee, lived. He based the the cartoon street on Festing Road.

It's an attractive terraced street, worth a look if you're in the area. I was interested to learn that he based Mr Benn on the faceless, bowler-hatted individuals in the paintings of Rene Magritte, as just a mile or so away, in Barnes, you can pass the tree where Marc Bolam died, which also has a spooky connection to Magritte in this Rene Magritte painting depicting a tree, entitled September 16th (the date of his death), which he was supposedly obsessed with.

You might also enjoy this article, about the influence of drugs on Mr Benn.


Anonymous Felicity Lowde said...

Glad to meet another self confessed Mr Benn fan; I loved it as a kid. He goes into a store, puts on an outfit and dissappears into the back of the shop and into another world. Wonderful the way in which he turned up every week in his dull bowler hat and never expected what trying on a new outfit would lead to (daft bod).
I never bought those 80's jokes about how there was some hidden sexual meaning in the cartoon/film- there just never was. But there is a hint of old Whitechapel. The old East End kids used to go to the Penny gaff theatres which were disguised from the taxman by a calm looking shop front. The door opened into corridoors leading into a theatre hollowed out of the inside of the house. There were also the 'Penny Gaff shops' that sold theatre costumes and left-over props from the entertainments.....little ragamuffin kids pressing their noses against the window panes in wonderment.
I say bring him back, or even better, something very like him.

12:30 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still can't watch Eastenders without wondering when Ian Beale is going to suddenly appear wearing a purple fez.

9:15 am  
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