Sunday, 8 May 2011

And The Ones That Florence Gives You Don't Do Anything At All

Let's get the tedious bit out of the way, then. The Magic Roundabout, so conventional 'wisdom' has it, was at best the acid-frazzled creation of someone who had imbibed far too many hallucinogens and 'seen' the hat-sporting pink cows lurking on the periphery of human sensory awareness, and at worst crafty pro-drug propaganda for the under-fives with Dougal cast as a sugarcube-scoffing acid visionary, Dylan as a weed-smoking layabout, Mr Rusty as a cart-toting pusher in the mould of Bubbles from The Wire, the Roundabout itself as a giant mushroom, and Ermintrude/Brian/Zebedee/The Train/Delete Where Ohhangonaminute somehow representing 'speed', however that works exactly. And if you play the theme music backwards, it says 'DINNERS' HAS BEEN DEAD FOR AGES HONESTLY. Notice how this perfect fit analysis invariably omits Mr McHenry, Florence, Paul, Basil and Rosalie, not to mention Penelope The Spider and Tweet & Tweet Tweet.

Notice also, more importantly, that there is absolutely no truth in this nonsense whatsoever, and no amount of nudging and winking from third-rate standups nor indeed bare-faced insistence from 'talking heads' on clip shows (both of which, funnily enough, our old pal Ricky Hervaid is guilty of) will ever make it so. If you were alighting on these pages hoping for some zany lolz about how they must all have been on those crazy drugs!1, then please go elsewhere and take that bloody Half Man Half Biscuit song with you. Anyway, we've already sort of been through this once with all that stuff about Jonathan Cohen playing Don't Fight It Feel It on the Bontempi organ or whatever it was. And now, you'll doubtless be delighted to hear, that's the tedious bit out of the way. The bit about Bubbles was quite good though.

Meanwhile, what all this sub-Slater From Dazed & Confused rumourmongering annoyingly obscures is that, well, there's no getting away from the fact that The Magic Roundabout really did chime with the times. Like all of the best 'accidental psychedelia', from Colour My World by Petula Clark and The Great Jelly Of London to The BBC Schools Diamond and Bedazzled, it was made in all 'straight'-ness but still allowed itself to be influenced by the fashion, design and style of the day, and as such ended up more effective in its kaleidoscopic otherworldliness than many more humourless and contrived attemps at 'being psychedelic'; this was even more true of the Thompson-reworked version, which was far from averse to throwing in chortling references to countercultural totems. And it had across-the-board appeal too, drawing in as many appreciative adult viewers who understood the idiosyncracies of Thompson's wit as target audience members fresh from taking their Pelham Puppets Dougal for a 'walk'.

More to the point, it found itself unexpectedly chiming with the times in the early nineties too. Not only were Channel 4 screening some previously unseen episodes with writing and narrating dutes taken on by Nigel Planer (who also produced a bonkers spoof Dispatches-style documentary ridiculing the more outlandish theories that have grown up around the show), but it had also been adopted on a more iconographic face value by the post-Acid House 'rave' generation (who, let's face it, were so blatant in their 'E'-centric hallucinogen propaganda that they didn't need to look for any 'hidden' messages anywhere else), not just as fashion-appropriate t-shirt fodder but also in musical terms, with no less than three superb examples of neo-psychedelia - Too Much Fun by The Chillin' Krew, Summers Magic by Mark Summers, and Everlasting Day by, erm, Magik Roundabout (who also apparently did a cover of The Porpoise Song that nobody seems to have heard) - either making lyrical references to or sampling the theme music of The Magic Roundabout.

But could it chime with the times a third time? Was that all-too-familiar eighteen-note refrain what was needed to forge a psychotropic pathway to Cheggers Plays Zen and obliterate all memory of bloody Barnacle Bill...? Get cranking that handle, Pere Pivoine...

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