Friday, 25 September 2015

Cradle to Grave

I can't say I ever had ever given much thought to the childhood of Danny Baker prior to this comedy biopic, but I am nonetheless thoroughly enjoying it. It's an easy watch for a Thursday night, and makes me smile. I love the 1970s period detail, particularly the wallpaper. The lino on the bathroom floor prior to the toilet exploding in last night's episode was the same as we had in our kitchen in 1976. Where did they unearth that from?

There are numerous funny moments. The discovery of the VCR, enabling them to watch Rising Damp on infinite repeat. A money-making scheme recording LPs onto cassette to pay for said VCR. The bottom falling out of a caravan. A mate left trapped upstairs in a bank with the alarms belting out. A football referee over-excitedly heading the ball into goal. A pathetic crush on a teacher with a dark room.

Peter Kay does a nice impression of Danny Baker, playing his Del Boy-esque wheeler dealer docker dad Fred (Spud). Spud's complicated scams in the pub leave the Bakers with a kitchen full of reeking fish and no washing machine. Now he has a wedding to fund, with two large families all expecting an invite. He tries to con the bank into paying the interest on a loan themselves. They ain't fooled, unsurprisingly. I am writing this on our 11th wedding anniversary, still very thankful to a) my husband for putting up with me for this long and b) both sides of our family helping us out with the cost of getting married. Admittedly, my own dad did try to persuade me to have my wedding reception in the local scout hut, which still smells the same as it did when I went to playgroup there aged three. Thankfully, since I was marrying a Cumbrian, we ended up in a cosy country cottage overlooking Windermere.

The backdrop to Danny Baker's youth is Bermondsey, the local football team West Greenwich. I spent a lovely day in Greenwich this summer with our daughter. I hadn't been there in years. Whereas once Greenwich might have meant a rummage in the markets and a pint of Meantime Brewery beer by the Thames, now it means a play in the park and a visit to the Maritime Museum. The park does have the most excellent play area, provided you only have one child. Unfortunately we were there with six, all running off in different directions, clambering on ropes, dodging scooters, burying themselves in sand, hiding in bamboo tunnels - and each with their own individual exit to bolt out of whenever they so chose. The park's rolling landscape gives parents no vantage point over the whole site so you are constantly losing your offspring, which is never a relaxing experience in a busy London borough. And my, the grass in that Greenwich park was absolutely parched - London got a summer this year that York did not.

The Lost Boys

Sheep grazing on parched grass

Bamboo tunnel

The Maritime Museum was rather dull when I was a kid. We had family friends who built their own boat and liked to go there with us. I remember the best thing being the badges in the gift shop. Now the museum is completely amazing, with a giant interactive map and two fantastic children's areas, where you can go fishing, play pirates, load ships (just like Spud Baker), camp in Antarctica, leap in sensory pools, fire cannons and run a fishmonger's. And it's all free. In fact it's so cool these days that your kids no longer notice the gift shop.

Maritime Museum

Pirate's moll


We also, by borrowing a membership card, got onto the Cutty Sark for free, the famous tea clipper that was once the fastest in the world, now fully restored after a massive fire in 2007. It also has loads of interactive stuff for kids, although ours were a little "shipped out" by then and it was time to get back on the bus to Eltham, our home for the week. No time this Greenwich trip for the scary dripping tunnel under the river and its clanking ancient lifts, the stuff of my childhood nightmares and still apparently going strong.

Cutty Sark

Scary dripping tunnel entrance under the glass dome

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