What they didn’t want us to know about Postman Pat

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page 10 - Credit: Archant

Baby George was coming over for the night.

Now he is nearly a year old I felt it was time to broaden his horizons so when I saw a range of kiddies’ DVDs on special offer in Sainsbury, I decided to buy a couple or three. I picked up Postman Pat’s Speedy Delivery, The Gruffalo and Winnie the Pooh.

At first glance they looked like the sort of thing that might float my grandson’s boat... if he could just stop chewing the furniture for a minute.

He is crawling now but it’s a dangerous new pursuit. In order to propel himself forward, he first launches himself, cannonball-like from a sitting position. Unlike a cannonball, however, it is impossible to gauge direction and angle of elevation. Consequently he might hit his head on the coffee table or the wall or the television stand, there’s no telling.

Perhaps a gentle DVD of a children’s classic might persuade him to sit still for a minute or two. Postman Pat, Greendale’s mail man, who drives around with his black and white cat Jess in the passenger seat of his van. He is a man whose happy family life is matched by his love of his as yet unprivatised work; whose cheery, animated adventures have captivated children for more than 30 years.

Winnie the Pooh, a small, “hunny” loving bear; property of Christopher Robin. Pooh lives in Hundred Acre Wood with his many friends including Tigger, Piglet, Roo, Owl and Eeyore. Small crises, often linked to lack of suitable accommodation or hunny, beset the friends. It always ends amicably.

The Gruffalo is the rhyming story of a mouse’s walk through the woods. On his way three animals - a fox, owl and a snake (all mouse eaters, you will note) invite him home for supper. The mouse, who is not falling for that one, declines saying he plans to dine with his non-existent friend, the gruffalo.

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But it turns out there is such a thing as a gruffalo and gruffalos also eat mice but, once again, the mouse outwits his foe.

So you see, the three DVDs are all very much in the domain of traditional children’s tales. Sometimes the stories have a moral pay-off but they are colourfully illustrated and full of innocent fun. Each film was designated “U” as universally ok for everyone to watch. Even, surely, grandmothers. It was something of a surprise, therefore, when the self-service till alerted the staff to my purchases. It seemed I needed to be age-checked.

“I don’t know why it does that...” said the woman, confirming my DVDs as okay for me to purchase. Phew. For an awful moment I thought I might be rejected as too old to buy them.

“Sorry, you look too old for Winnie the Pooh... could you just sing and dance Tigger’s Song to prove you’re young enough?” It was okay, my receipt duly noted: “Cashier confirmed correct age”, for each of the three DVDs.

I was definitely old enough... but was there (and I’m off on one, now) something more grown-up about these seemingly child-friendly dvds?

In a flight of fancy I could hear that deep, deep voice they use to introduce film plots: “Gruffalo v Predator: The animated tale of a laboratory-generated grizzly bear-buffalo hybrid in its battle to the death with an alien rodent-eater. Both are intent on destruction; both want to devour the mouse but they are not prepared to share. Be prepared for bloodshed, traumatic surprises, terrible injuries. Warning: contains extreme violence.

Over to Greendales finest. A voice with an indeterminate northern European accent intones: “Poschtman Pet, schpeedy delivery. Vearing hish schkin-tight Lycra uniform Pet shows off hes rippling muschles for Missush Coggins at the Poscht Office. At Granny Dryden’s housch, he offers to look at the plumbing after Granny developsch a bit of a leak. Granny Dryden showsh her gratitude with schomething hot on the table. Well done, Pet, but don’t forget you have a speschial delivery for Major Forbes. It’s wrapped in plain brown paper, I wonder what it could be? Varning: intended for mature audiences only

Winnie the Pooh? The clue may be in the title.