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Saturday, 29 July 2017

Andy Pandy and Teddy - Ahem...

Throughout the mid-to-late 1960's, during my last couple of years of compulsive schooling, my parents were successful in acquiring a Border Collie puppy from a choice of two pups available from the same mother bitch. We chose the male in preference over its sister. It spent the whole of its life with us. A rather spoilt life as such, as none of us trained it to stay away from the dinner table. As a result, it kept on whining as it begged for scraps of morsels as they were finger-fed into its mouth whilst we sat at table. But I always remember the times when the main bone of the Sunday roast lamb was left for the dog, and it would saunter to its basket with it in its mouth. But dare you approach whilst it's chewing on the bone! Its snout would furrow, its upper teeth bared whilst tightly shut over its bone, and emit a low, threatening growl. We all knew better than to tempt fate by teasing it.

Border Collie

With a newly-acquired puppy, it was my idea to name our pet Bruce, after the comic multi-millionaire Bruce Wayne, played by the late Adam West, who also was the costumed crime-fighter of the fictitious American metropolis of Gotham City, as the heroic Batman. This series of family viewing topped the statistics during the late 1960's, especially among us teenagers. Batman's sidekick Robin, was played by a younger and rather good-looking actor Burt Ward. When not in costume, both Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson lived at the Wayne Manor, a mansion a little way outside the city. Meanwhile, the head office of the Gotham City Police Department was occupied by two incredibly gullible heads: Commissioner Gordon and Chief O'Hara. With both of these officers having dined with Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson at their manor more than once, it remains a mystery on how neither had ever sussed out that Bruce Wayne was actually Batman and Dick Grayson was Robin. After all, both "pairs" were of the same physical build, the same age, and most obvious - the same voice tones and accents. 

But that is the mystery of innocence. Coming to think of it, the only room in the manor we were able to look into was the lounge which boasted a sliding panel, secret enough for one of the servants to be totally unaware of - despite her many years of working there. Whilst she was always elsewhere, the panel would slide open to reveal a fireman's pole which took them to the underground basement, or the Bat-Cave, already fully dressed in their costumes, in a matter of a couple of seconds. The innocence of it all. As a teenage fan of Batman and Robin, it has never once crossed my mind on why we never saw the inside of the kitchen and bathroom, nor for that matter, the bedroom. Neither I, nor any other Batman fan at school I was aware of, had ever questioned the sleeping arrangement of Wayne and Grayson when not in their costumes. After all, we may never be able to prove that they didn't share a double bed, but we cannot disprove this either. Could this be the reason why the more recently made Batman Returns sequel of movies which were made in the early 1990's, he was featured as being alone, without Robin as his sidekick. This, along with later re-makes of the movie, Batman remains alone, fighting his own demons as well as crime within his metropolis.

Most likely at present it would be too controversial to feature Batman and Robin living in the same house without any thoughts of personal intimacy occurring behind the closed bedroom door. And so we go back a few more years to my primary school days. As a young boy, Thursday and Friday teatime were my favourite evenings of the week. On Thursday, preceding the 17.50 News, was twenty-five minutes of cartoon animation Popeye the Sailor Man, with is long-suffering girlfriend Olive Oyl. A handy can of spinach always gave him that super-strength in his biceps to ward off his persistent bully Brutus, a bearded giant of a man who had his eye on Oyl, and always attempting to win her over. It was through these cartoons that I developed a fondness of spinach. And Fridays? Oh yes, on the same time-slot it was Huckleberry Hound, along with Mr Jinks the cat with his two mice, Pixie and Dixie. The upright-standing feline always ending up chasing his rodent companions around the house after being outwitted by them. And Yogi Bear and Boo-Boo, both living in a cave at Jellystone Park. Innocence prevented me from pondering what those two got up to inside their cave after the cameras were no longer filming! 

And throughout the fifties, I could I ever forget Watch with Mother, a daily fifteen-minute afternoon slot featuring lovable puppet characters. These were the days when mother stayed at home to raise her young children while the husband and father was at work, fulfilling his role as sole breadwinner and provider. It was on Tuesdays that Andy Pandy, along with Teddy and Looby Loo made their appearances. When the cameras were off, Andy shared a small basket with Teddy, and they can be seen at the start of the show popping up together and then dropping back down out of sight in a game of peekaboo before both of them jumping out of their basket to play in the garden.

Looby Loo was the incredibly shy little girl who only made an appearance after Andy and Teddy were out of sight. After a few minutes of performance, she made a quick disappearance before the other two returned. The show ended with the two jumping back into the basket, where they would, I suppose, remain for a full week. The age of innocence. Boys like myself would watch all these programmes without ever a single thought or hint of any homosexual connotations. Indeed, the creators might have thought that any dalliance Andy Pandy would have made with Looby Loo would have sent Teddy into a jealous rage. We can't have that can we?  So to keep her a secret, even out of Andy's awareness, was the best solution to avoid in-basket fighting!

Are you sitting comfortably? Then let us begin.

As this week has celebrated fifty years since the Government has discriminated homosexuality between two adult partners within the privacy of their home, gay-themed docudramas were shown on the BBC. These stories were based on historical facts, including interviews with the actual individuals who were represented in these dramas by actors. Before the legislation, for two men to even hold hands in public warranted arrest and possible imprisonment. This also included two men hugging, even in privacy of their own home. One victim of such circumstances was journalist Peter Wildeblood, who in 1952 had an affair with Naval officer Edward McNally. Apparently they were both caught whilst on board a ship sailing towards Malta. Wildeblood, during his Court hearing was promised a reduction of his prison term from five years to twelve months if he disclosed the names of any other partners he was involved with. So he betrayed his partner McNally to the Court. Indeed, his sentence was reduced to twelve months, but McNally himself, unable to cope with the prospect of Court, committed suicide before his first hearing.

After his prison sentence was completed, Wildeblood pleaded his case with a Member of Parliament to consider strictly private affairs between two consenting adults to be decriminalised. After, on his way home, a stranger stopped him in the street and began beating him up. One punch followed another with full force until Wildeblood lay on the ground, his bloodied face receiving more punches until he was barely able to speak, until he finally gasped, 
Why are you doing this to me?
Because your'e a f- homosexual! The assailant shouted his answer before rising to walk away, leaving his victim lying unattended on the ground. It would be another ten years or more before the legislation became effective in 1967.

Watching the beating in the street on television has reminded me of a true Mid-West story of a young homosexual male out one evening cruising (out looking for a partner) when a car containing two or three burly men pulled up alongside. They got out, grabbed hold of and bungled the lad into the vehicle and drove off to a remote area, where he was murdered. And with another beating of a gay celeb which took place more recently in London's Clapham Common which attracted publicity, "queer bashing" is something that can still prevail, even up to half a century after legislation. And such are dramatised, like in the fairly recent incident in the soap EastEnders, where two young gay men: Ben Mitchell and Paul Coker, were accosted by a gang of men in the West End whilst on a night out together, resulting with the murder of Paul, followed by the difficulty for Ben in getting these killers to face justice. If soaps are meant to reflect real life, then this must be an indication that "queer bashing" still occur, albeit rarely.

It could be said that hatred towards gays is to honour Britain as a country with strong Christian ethics and morals, as homophobia is often linked to far-right extremism, along with racism and antisemitism. Not that long ago there was a documentary about the far-right hate group against Muslims, Britain First, whose activities were centred mainly in Luton, and who argued for Christianity against Islam in the UK. The very issue of making homosexuality illegal seemed to have stemmed from the Empire days of Christian constitution. Or in short - from Religion. And so men and women with a same-sex preference are held by these moralists as anti-Biblical and a pariah of society. And here is the irony. Despite its religious-based origin for homophobia, much of the Christian faith here in the UK has been discarded into the trash bin, mainly because of the so-called "Creationist myth". It should be noted here that if Adam and Eve had never existed, but instead we are all descended from apes or similar primate species as Darwin himself taught, then without the Fall there would have been no need for the Atonement to be made on the Cross, and no Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. This makes the Bible and the Christian faith totally worthless. Atheists, many who are in support for homosexuals, would be right in discarding the Bible as a book of useless fables, together with their perception as the source of the homosexual's misery.

Ben (left) and Paul in EastEnders

This leaves these moralists with an ironic situation. They say that same-sex relationships are wrong because such relationships are unbiblical. But the very same people who says such things are themselves denying the verity and historicity of the Bible. In other words, homophobia is only Biblical when it suits them. Other passages found in the Bible, for example, in rebuking classism and wealth favouritism - ah! That's a different story altogether, even though James classifies this sin as Murder (James chapter 2). If classism is the bulwark for a strong Britain, then let classism flourish because that is perfectly fine, murder notwithstanding!

It is very unfortunate that even regular church-goers can be get caught up in this homophobic scenario. Often I have quoted the late infamous Fred Phelps, one time leader of Westboro Baptist church in the Kansas city of Topeka. His stance against homosexuals, along with calling down God's wrath and his campaign to send them into the hottest realms of Hell, has become a notoriety on an international scale. And there many other church leaders who calls down God's wrath on gay men in particular. Their followers carry their hateful spirit into their homes, their schools, their workplaces, and out into the streets, as well as through the Media. The trouble with all this anti-gay lobbying and cursing by church members, is that this kind of attitude throws fuel onto the flames of atheism - the fuel being petrol or gasoline to be more precise. It also makes the gay person feel less uncomfortable in a secular surrounding, as well as providing a cause to hate God with a vengeance. Indeed, church morality is the homosexual's deadliest enemy.

How Jesus was so different when he was around to minister to the people! He was accused by the Pharisees and other religious people of "mixing with tax collectors and sinners" - the same pariahs to them as church leaders see gay men and women as pariahs at present. He even said that these "tax collectors and sinners" will enter the Kingdom of God before the Pharisees will (Matthew 21:31). The "sinners" depicted here are the prostitutes. Both prostitutes and tax collectors were despised by the Pharisees as gays are despised by moralists today. But Jesus loved them. He loved them so much that he was willing and ready to give his life for them - and in a cruel and torturous method. He was willing to give them eternal life whilst at the same time give the Pharisees the most stern of rebukes, as recorded in Matthew chapter 23.

Jesus would never attempt to pull the bone away from the dog's jaws. He knew full well that such an action would bring out the worst in a dog. Fierce growling, angry barking, along with a few bleeding wounds. No, it's not nice at all. So what would Jesus have done? Or what would any sensible man do? He would show the dog a piece of sumptuous steak. Only then will the dog willingly drop the bone in order to receive the meat.

No church would bring a homosexual into the arms of God's mercy by censoring and rebuking. Trying to take away what he has will never lead to a conversion. Rather, the Christian can only demonstrate that what he has is far better than what the sinner has. If the sinner can perceive that the Christian has something far better to offer, only then will the sinner be more willing to leave behind his former lifestyle if it means becoming a recipient of something more fulfilling - eternal life through Jesus Christ.  

1 comment:

  1. Dear Frank,
    Your illustration reminds me of a story in which a little girl was dearly attached to her fake strand of plastic pearls. Her Father urged her to give them to him, for he wanted to give her something far better. But she pouted, cried and refused to give up her most cherished possession. One day her Father asked her simply to trust in His love and faithfulness. She reluctantly gave up her junk jewelry, to be rewarded with a genuine pearl necklace worth a small fortune. You are quite right that we can't win anyone over to Christ by attacking what brings them pleasure, but only by showing them His infinite, self-sacrificing love that will guarantee them eternal joy and life, a treasure far surpassing any earthly pleasure.
    Thanks as always for the great post. God bless,