June 26th, 2006

ghost, alice liddell

happy day!

Heavens, what a weekend. After a fun but very late night on Saturday (from which I emerged miraculously unhungover for someone who went to bed at five), Sunday evening was spent at the house of barsine's parents, gazing at strange animals and stranger television. barsine is checking in on her parents' pets while they're away, and as these pets include Tommy the tortoise, with whom I have been besotted since I first heard of his existence many years ago, she invited daegaer and me over too. It's been a while since I've seen Tommy, but he's as delightfully dinosaur-ish as ever, stomping about the flower beds and refusing to eat the cucumber kindly offered to him. I was obsessed with having a tortoise as a small child, but unfortunately for me (and fortunately for tortoises in general) this desire coincided with the change in the law in the late '70s which banned the importing of tortoises to Ireland because the conditions in which they were transported were cruel. But Tommy had made it here before this change, and thrives to this day.

But it wasn't all tortoise-gazing. No, we also watched one of the strangest, most entertaining and most unnecessarily complicated pieces of television I've ever seen. I speak of Children of the Stones, a sort of Wicker Man/Village of the Damned for late '70s kids. You can read about the plot via that Wikipedia link, or rather, you can read about what the plot was apparently meant to be like, because the whole thing was so convoluted that us three viewers definitely didn't notice most of the details mentioned in that plot summary.

Basically, the programme was about a boy called Matthew and his professor father who come to live in a village where nearly all of the population are just a little bit too serene and happy, greeting each other with the strangely sinister expression "Happy day!" The village is surrounded by strange Neolithic standing stones which evidently have something to do with the villager's happy state, as does local squire Mr Hendrick. The only people who aren't happy are those who have recently arrived in the village, and of course they quickly turn up smiling blandly and wishing people "happy day". And they all go out at night and form a big creepy circle around the village. They're not quite erecting a giant wicker man, but you wouldn't be surprised if they did. So far, so creepy. Hurrah!


If only they'd left it at that. But no! They had to make it preposterously complicated, with magnetic ley lines and black holes and supernovas and Lord knows what else. And then they brought in the idea that the village was stuck in some sort of time loop where everything was going to repeat itself, which added an extra layer of unnecessary madness to the whole deranged thing. daegaer, barsine - did either of you realise that Hendrick was meant to have turned into a druid in the end? A druid whom, as far as I was concerned, had never once been mentioned throughout the series? Well, according to Wikipedia, that's what happened. It was all too much for us well-educated adults, so I have no idea how the average small child in 1977 managed to know what the hell was going on.

However, we were still enormously entertained, not least because of the hilariously inconsistent attitude of the characters to the bizarre happenings around them. One minute Matthew's dad was the ultimate rational scientist and the next he was blithly reacting to the news that the entire population of the village were roaming around chanting in the middle of the night by saying "oh, really? I suppose lots of country villages do that" as if weird pagan rituals were just another aspect of rural life. This was made even funnier by the actors' weird line delivery - they seemed to emphasise the completely irrevelant parts. So people would say things like "I found Hendricks' weird laboratory in the basement of the church. OH, AND I WOULD LIKE A SANDWICH NOW!"

So if you like weird '70s fantasy-horror and you can understand the plot, I strongly recommend Children of the Stones. It's probably best to watch it with other people though, if only to compare notes...

In non-weekend-related news, you may have noticed if you're not just reading this on your f-list that my LJ has had a change of colour scheme and now, strangely enough, matches the bedroom of me and Patsington (cream walls, pale blue woodwork). How fresh and new!
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