Yesterday, March 21st, was World Puppet Day. I didn’t exactly miss it, but I came to the party very late so didn’t have time to get a puppet or two out and pull on their strings until they came to life.
I have quite a few puppets somewhere. Probably upstairs in one of the cupboards – kings and queens, witches and gamekeepers, pirates and goatherds, a dragon I think. There’s even a papier-mâché puppet horse I once made for Holly when she was at infant school.
One Christmas Holly and I made a puppet theatre out of a washing maiden and some old curtains and we put on a Christmas puppet show. Those were the days. Now those puppets lie neglected and the last time I saw them their strings were all tangled. I suppose I should restring them someday - how hard can it be?
I’ve always had a thing for puppets and there were a lot of puppets in my childhood. Now I come to think of it there were more puppet shows than you could shake Mr Punch’s stick at. Ever since I watched Andy Pandy, The Woodentops, Torchy and Twizzle on our old black and white TV in the early sixties I’ve been hooked. My favourite was Rubovia and then there was Fireball XL5, Stingray, Thunderbirds and let’s not forget Pinky and Perky. I don’t think I questioned that they were just puppets even though I could see the strings and Sooty and Sweep seemed almost believable in the hands (literally) of Mr Corbett. I didn’t really like that silly lambchop though, Shari Lewis’ voice got on my nerves and her nose was a little too Bewitched.
In the summer at the seaside I could hardly wait for the Punch and Judy show with its sausages, policeman, ghost, Judy, Toby the dog and of course the baby. ‘That’s the way to do it. That’s the way to do it,’ screeched Mr Punch as he beat the baby to death with his stick. I’m not sure how that would go down with audiences today, but I seem to remember laughing. Once we had an Indonesian shadow puppet theatre visit our school. It wasn’t quite Punch and Judy but it made a huge impression on me and I spent weeks after trying to make shadow animals on my bedroom wall. But my floppy eared rabbit and flying dove were nothing compared to the shadow theatre dragon breathing his shadow fire.
Later came the Muppets, Spitting Image, Fraggle Rock and all the rest, but by then I was busy turning myself into a puppet and tangling my own strings. But that is another story as the say. Anyway, that’s my celebration of World Puppet Day and I’d like to leave you with this worrying thought – Muffin the Mule.