Thursday 9 February 2012

Justify your pathetic fears

I hate sequels too
Those of you concerned the about the inevitable failure of my manful attempt to be a man by facing my completely pathetic and improbable fear of The Phantom Raspberry Blower of Old London Town will be pleased to hear that on Tuesday evening I completed my Herculean task. Including the seventh part, which turned out to be the one which scared me so rather than the eighth.

I must really stress here that this isn't a joke. It scared me to a point where I was afraid to move and worried about what might be lurking in the shadows. But facing my fear was, I think, probably an ultimately positive thing to do. It's certainly better out in the open than being a dim and distant memory in the recesses of my brain. Mind you, unlike a lot of things, I really did remember it very clearly - the reality on the tape was pretty well exactly what I had stored in my brain. And no, it wasn't as scary the second time around. Maybe this is because I have a greater plane of life experiences to draw on now, or that I am now nearly 32 years old. Could be the last one. But that one doesn't stop me being scared of shop mannequins, so who knows.

But maybe it's because this is the first time I saw it in colour. My family are a bit like me - we're always the last to adopt anything. Modern day whippersnappers will probably never believe this in a million years, but we didn't get a colour TV until about 1988 or 1989, when I was 8 or 9 years old. And as I saw the offending episode of the Phantom Raspberry Blower at my nan and grandpa's house, well - I could have seen it as late as about 1996. I'm not sure my grandpa ever owned a colour TV set in his entire life, in fact.

Black and white is scarier than colour. For one thing, it leaves more to the imagination. For a second, it is other-worldly. We do not experience life in black and white, so seeing TV and films in black and white just ramps up the sense that something is different. And I fear different things. I fear phantom raspberry blowers, too. So it all adds up.

Luckily for you, I have made some visual aids to back up my point. Here are the two particular shots which were so emblazoned in my mind, more or less exactly how I remembered them. In the first, Inspector Corner of the Yard (wearing nothing but his underwear) has thrust a garden fork into the lid of a coffin that moved, causing what turns out to be crushed raspberries to ooze out:

figure 1: my terror
Just look at it. Someone tell me that the black and white image isn't scarier and more foreboding, and I will tell you that you are a big fat liar whose pants are, most likely, on fire. Which brings us on to the next one. The first full-frontal appearance of the Phantom himself. This one still haunts my nightmares and lurks in every dark place when I am alone. Brace yourselves.

figure 2: my crippling emotional pain
I actually can't look at it.

1 comment:

meepmeep said...

Oh Christ. You're not alone - The Phantom Raspberry Blower used to scare the living shit out of me as a kid (I'm the same age as you), and I'd completely forgotten about the coffin/fork thing. It's not weird or strange - that guy in the cloak and top hat is designed to give children the willies. As it were.

Also, they've now taken to lighting up a local museum in red at night: - every time I see it the 1812 Overture plays in my head and I get all a shiver.


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