Monday, July 27, 2015

Clunk Click Every Trip

I grew up watching public information films in the seventies.  The BBC was fond of showing them either late at night or, during school holidays, just before children's TV programmes started.  From today's perspective, it seems rather disturbing that so many of them are fronted by notorious sex offenders, but back then we were blissfully ignorant: Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris were just a pair of apparently harmless weirdos.  But to focus on the films themselves - many of them were truly scary.  Everyone remembers the 'Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water' one, narrated by Donald Pleasance in his creepiest voice and featuring a death-like figure watching as various youngsters drown in flooded quarries and the like, but others were equally disturbing.  I always found the road safety ones, with their graphic depictions of drivers going through windscreens and pedestrians being mown down particularly unsettling when I was a child. Then there was the one with the kid climbing up an electricity pylon to retrieve a kite and getting electrocuted for his troubles - pretty grim stuff.  The abrupt endings, often freeze framing on the screaming face of the victims' best friend, brother, mother or whatever, didn't help. offering no hope of an unexpected happy ending ('it's OK, he's only singed a bit and has permanently lost control of his bowels, but he isn't dead').

They must have had an impact on me, as I've always remained wary of  open water, never loiter near electricity pylons and always keep my distance whilst driving, ('only a fool breaks the two second rule').  Moreover, I always buckle up before driving, (although, as it was Jimmy Savile urging us to 'clunk click every trip', perhaps we shouldn't be wearing seatbelts as it is probably all part of some evil paedophile plot).  Even the slightly friendlier animated public information films aimed specifically at kids (the 'Charlie Says' and 'Tufty the Squirrel' series) obviously made an impression, as I never got run over running in front of oncoming cars to get to the ice cream van, never went off with strangers and always made sure that my cat didn't get scalded by pulling pans of hot water on top of himself (I loved that cat). 

But there was one which was far less effective.  In addition to all the road and child safety films, there was also a series about dangers which lurked around the home. One of these feature an old bloke putting up decorations around the house whilst his wife had gone to collect their grandchildren.  He's seen balancing precariously on various chairs, tables and other items of household furniture whilst he goes about his task, all accompanied by the usual soundtrack warning of the perils of not using a step ladder for such things.  The pay off came when the wife and grandkids arrive, see him at work in the living room as they come down the garden path and bang on the window to surprise him - and surprised he is as he falls off of the table he's stood and is seen crashing to the floor.  It then cuts to the horrified expressions on his wife and grandchildren's faces, freeze framing on them.  I'm not sure why, but this always made me laugh uproariously.  Maybe I'm just a sick bastard.  Then again, maybe it was the slapstick nature of the whole thing - it played like a Laurel and Hardy short or even an episode of Some Mothers Do Have Them.   OK, I know it was an old man falling off of the table, but it was still funny.  And you know something?  Repeated exposure to that film has never deterred me from climbing on all sorts of unsuitable things in order to carry out DIY projects.  Ironically, the only thing I've ever fallen off of was a step ladder.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home