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Second Childhood, zoos and the cinema of the ridiculous

I had a day yesterday which was very much a reversion to my childhood, made up of a trip to the zoo and seeing the Lone Ranger at the pictures.

The zoo was very much a part of my childhood as we lived for a while in Camden Town and Regent's Park was not much more than a walk away. Of course that was a long time ago before Lord Snowdon's aviary had been built, and the polar bear's psychotically repetitive walk along the cliff top was poorly understood. In those days a zoo was mainly about entertainment and only a little about science. I seem to recall that Solly Zuckerman, government chief scientist, won awards for his insights into ape and monkey behaviour based entirely on what he had seen at the zoo. The emphasis nowadays is still not on science, we have moved through that phase and are now conservation oriented. That's the current reason for keeping animals in zoos. Having said that I was at Whipsnade which provides some wonderfully entertaining displays. One of the elephants cheated in a race against a little boy from the audience! The sea lions are always good for a laugh, especially when they soak the front row of the audience. But the best show of the day was definitely the wild birds. In my day bird displays were simple falconry, which, as clever as the birds and the trainers are, is simple and soon palls. Yesterday's display had two well trained Harris Hawks, which were pretty good. A big East European stork -(don't tell UKIP) with a huge wingspan which soared above us. Two impossibly cute burrowing owls called Bonnie and Clyde. A trained toucan (the presenter thought his audience of mainly under 11s would remember the Guinness adverts phased out in 1982). A dive bombing African Parrot, and a complete exotic air arm of 5 pairs of parrots all in the air at once. This display by itself was pretty much worth the admission price.

Plus the weather was perfect for a day out and a spin on my motor bike. One of the rare occasions my journey time was less than Google maps' estimate.

The Lone Ranger film has had widely varying reviews, but for some one whose formative tv viewing involved a weekly appointment with the Lone Ranger TV series it just had to be seen. Obviously over the years my recollection of just how good the programmes were has been amplified, and of course in those days I took it all quite seriously. The courageous lone survivor of a cowardly ambush bravely taking on the hideously evil world of Wild West wrong doing was probably something I believed in. I don't think that back then I grasped the notion of the 'Noble Savage' which I guess is probably politically incorrect by modern standards. But this may have been my introduction to the heroic double act forged in the fires of adversity - which why I still like Batman and Robin, Morecambe and Wise and Del Boy and Rodney.

So I had a lot of nostalgic capital invested in the story, quite enough to justify an Orange Wednesday outing (I have an EE sim card (nee Orange) purely for the purpose of getting 241 tickets) at a cost of fractionally under £10. 

In the circumstances I think the film was perfect - it is wonderfully ludicrous - the ambush is taken quite seriously as is the love interest, but everything else is mocked to extremes. Tonto and the dead crow are absurd, The Lone Ranger himself is wooden and pompous and the train chase so ridiculously unbelievable as to have me laughing throughout. And in 1958 I could have been that little boy in the freak show booth.

Which reminds me of some school boy humour from those days:

1) The Lone Ranger:Hey, Tonto, we're surrounded by Indians.

Tonto: Ugh, what you mean , we?

2) Question: Identify this piece of music from the clue, which is a row of naked ladies some facing us and some facing


Answer: The William Tell overture which goes

titty, bum,  titty, bum,titty, bum,bum, bum,

 titty, bum,titty, bum,titty, bum,bum,bum,

titty, bum,titty, bum,titty, bum,bum,bum

titty, bummmmmm, titty, bum,bum,bum 




Views: 71

Tags: 'lone, boy, humour, parrot, ranger', school, whipsnade, zoo

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