Thursday, March 16, 2006

We Want Muffin

Ernie recently spent the morning with two of the grandchildren, and returned rather perturbed. “There were these four little people”, he explained, “wearing bright one-piece outfits and they had things sticking out of their heads.” He had come face to face with the Teletubbies!

For me, children’s television will always be Muffin the Mule. I think I remember Bill and Ben, the Flowerpot Men, though I am not sure if they were flowerpots masquerading as men, or men masquerading as flowerpots. I think they came after Muffin.

Muffin was a marionette, controlled from above, who pranced around on a piano. His minder was Annette Mills, the older sister of John Mills, who had me in paroxysms of tears in his role of Scott of the Antarctic . The show always began with a perky opening song. If you listen carefully, you can hear Muffin’s heels clattering away on the top of the piano. There was a penguin and an ostrich and various other characters, but I do not remember exactly what they did. I think it’s the song I remember most vividly.

As I researched Muffin, I found two interesting facts. Muffin was introduced in 1946, which makes this year his 60th anniversary. I was six then, so I suspect that I wasn’t much interested in a wooden mule, but I may have watched some of it with my brother. I also found out that Muffin was “brought back” in 2005, this time as a cartoon character, so I am sure he will soon be making his way across the Atlantic to delight another generation of children. I think Ernie will enjoy Muffin, though Heaven only knows what he would say if he catches sight of a prancing purple dinosaur or those wiggly gentlemen who look like they belong on a list of neighbors you really don’t want living next to you.

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