August 21, 2003

Oh the British, they make me giggle

And the fact that a lot of them would be horrified by that makes me giggle even harder. Why am I overcome with girly mirth? Four Words:

Thomas the Tank Engine

See, The Boy has begun expressing his Y chromosome lately, and his conversation tends to turn to trains. Actually, the highlight of his day is running naked around the house yelling, "CHOO-CHOO TWAIN!" but whatever. We've been discussing getting him a Thomas starter set for his birthday, since every time we go to Barnes and Noble or Toys R Us the child makes a beeline for the Thomas display and would happily stand there until the end of time, running the little trains up and down the wooden tracks. So yesterday I'm at BJs, and see a Thomas video which includes sing-along songs and one or two brief story snippets. I figured, "Hey! Eight bucks, plus it might rid us of constant Wiggling," so I bought it and presented it to The Boy.

The Video was a hit. It was also extremely bizarre. And answered a lot of my questions about British sensibilities; like, why are they so damn fatalistic? It’s because they are indoctrinated from birth with songs like “Accidents Happen.”

The tune bounces cheerfully along, but the accompanying images and lyrics are incongruous and odd—image after image of Thomas and his friends plunging over cliffs, landing in lakes, crashing through homes and being chased by a giant rolling boulder. All while a happy chorus of British schoolchildren sing, “Sometimes accidents happen, no matter what you do” and other uplifiting phrases the upshot of which seems to be “Hey, be really careful all the time, but even if you are, sometimes you’re still DOOOOOMED!” The song culminates with a scene of the giant boulder crashing through a building and being engulfed in flames. I haven’t laughed so hard in ages. It was like Life of Brian for the toddler set.

As the song faded, I had tears of laughter running down my face, Hublet was chuckling, and The Boy was looking at us both like we were crazy. I’m starting a savings account today for future mental health costs related to The Boy’s toddlerhood.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at August 21, 2003 08:44 AM

There was a British psychologist who recently came out and said that watching too much Thomas was making kids fearful of trains.

Posted by: Jordana at August 21, 2003 10:34 AM

Nah -- he'll adapt. I did, and my parents were at least as weird as you two. Of course you'll need to make sure he goes to a college without a degree in 'creative writing' so he doesn't write books about you.

Posted by: Michael Tinkler at August 21, 2003 11:08 AM

Anything to keep a boy sitting still for any length of time is worth potentially fatalistic leanings...huh? What's really hilarious is when Alex (Not in my Name) Baldwin and George (when ISN'T a good time to use the "F" word) Carlin narrate the series since us doltish Americans can't possibly follow the elided and Anglicized "proper" speech of Ringo Starr. I still say Captain Feathersword is a hottie.

Posted by: Paula at August 22, 2003 12:01 PM

Hey, it's NEVER too early to start 'em on Monty Python. NEVER.

Posted by: Lex at August 22, 2003 02:53 PM

NO! DOn't get the videos with Alec Baldwin. ICk! Get the real ones with Ringo. Much better, much better.
And get the real English books with the Fat Director, not "Sir Toppum Hatt".

Posted by: Karen at August 23, 2003 11:33 AM

My husband thinks that the whole theme behind that Thomas video is the English stiff upper lip. Even if "Boulder" (the name of the boulder is Boulder) smashs the shed, you must remain cool.

Check out the Thomas the tank engine web site -- After looking at it for days, my son's first words were all the names of the trains -- Annie, Clarabel, Donald, etc... Now he's four and still plays with tracks forever.

Posted by: Laura at August 23, 2003 12:33 PM

Laura -

The boulder is sentient? Oh my God.

Posted by: BAW at August 26, 2003 09:04 AM