Immigrant au pair, visa status unknown, brain washing children in her care at the local park.
This is the kind of claptrap that would generally be seen in The Daily Hate-mail or The Scum. The report would continue to say that the female, who was said to have come in on the east wind, meets with a male artist and match seller to brainwash the impressionable youths with ‘fantasy tales’. Yet this is exactly what occurs in the formidable P. L. Travers’ Mary Poppins. This makes for an indulgent and easy read during these festive days and nights.
The tales were drafted when the writer was recuperating from a serious illness,
to while away the days, but also to put down something that had been in my mind for a long time.
I went to a screening of this iconic cinematic work last Xmas at FACT Liverpool. Oh! to see it through the eyes of a child. It is quite trippy, but now as an adult: singing, dancing penguin waiters, choreographed sequences on rooftops and an Uncle who appears to be high (literally) on laughter. Say no more! I also was quite disturbed by the fact that I actually found Mary Poppins, the domestic goddess with routine and a slight hint of healthy anarchy, strangely quite attractive.
I went to see An Audience with Julie Andrews earlier this year, a chat show-like occasion at the Liverpool Echo Arena. This had to be the most surreal event of the year. Andrews did not look a day over 10 years younger than when she was actually playing the part of Mary P. The evening concluded with the compère for the night, Aled Jones, encouraging the audience to sing along (Julie just smiled appreciatively) to ‘Climb Every Mountain’, complete with a backdrop screen of the lyrics. I momentarily thought I’d been had and it was actually a U.K.I.P convention, expecting a rendition of Cabaret’s ‘Tomorrow Belongs to Me’, to follow. ‘SPIT SPOT!’
At times the tales in the actual book of Mary Poppins have a slight dark edge, Mrs Corry sticking star wrapper papers onto the night sky, for instance. They remind me of the work by The League of Gentlemen. I do wonder whether it is wiser to introduce the stories to my three-year-old nephew, perhaps when he is a little older. But for now he is safe with the film. Just keep away from the singing Bird Woman.