Category Archives: Movies, music and media

Land of make believe

Those of a certain age will remember the Blue Peter “makes” of the 1970’s with children’s TV presenter Lesley Judd, when all manner of junk materials were recycled for a variety of uses – from the coat hanger tinsel covered advent crown to the toilet roll tube desk tidy!
My favourite ‘make’ was the farmyard – a papier mâché landscape which I replicated and adapted into a zoo, safari park and ‘Lost World’ to house my collection of Britains animals and Inpro dinosaurs.
I spent many an hour re-enacting the 1969 film The Valley of Gwangi and 1978 TV movie The Beasts Are on the Streets.
My papier mâché creations have long since disintegrated – but all the animals and dinosaurs are safely stowed away in a wooden box that my grandad made – a potential good investment if the going rate on auction sites of some of these toys is to be believed.
Watching the likes of Jurassic World and seeing what things kids today have to play with it’s clear toys and films have moved a lot since the stock frame animation of Gwangi and the plastic mouldings of animal figures based on the original 1940’s lead models.
I think Blue Peter still do their “makes” – I remember in the 90’s Tracey Island being a huge hit, so hopefully the power of imagination, mixed with a bit of creativity is still enough to provide hours of fun at no cost at all!

Here be dragons

Well today is the feast of St George the patron saint of England famed for killing a dragon, which got me thinking about other incarnations of these mythical creatures.
The first that springs to mind is Idris a small, red Welsh dragon who is hatched out of his egg in the fire of Ivor the Engine a steam train featured in 1970's children's animation by Oliver Postgate.
Then of course there’s Smaug from Tolkein’s Hobbit story, as well as 'Puff' the Magic Dragon from the song performed American folk group Peter, Paul and Mary.
A person favourite of mine is Falkor the Luckdragon from the Never Ending Story – I love that film, but I have to confess I’ve never read the book. Perhaps I should?
I’ve been lucky enough to visit China where dragons are seen in temples, on boats and dancing at celebrations. From my travels there I brought back a dragon netsuke – although I appreciate these actually originate from Japan!
And then there are the real life dragons of Komodo – I’ve never meet one other than seeing them at Jersey Zoo, but I’ve had some encounters with some relatives of the Komodo dragon including Nile and Bosc monitor lizards during my time as volunteer worker at a pet rescue centre, as well as meeting the marine iguanas on my travels to the Galapagos. Maybe one day I’ll get to meet a Goanna in Australia just like the one in my story “Whose egg are you?”
Recently I’ve also been drawing dragons, I’m taking part in the #AnimalAlphabets challenge on Twitter so if I can keep it up I’ll have 26 mythical beasts to add to my illustrations portfolio!