Tuesday, 12 July 2011
And they say that TV doesn't harm kids!
It was the nature of children's TV when I was a chavi that a good deal of the schedule was taken up with American imports and although most of this stuff was fairly recent some of it was actually pre-war. So it was that not only were our little personalities moulded by the influence of Roy Rogers and Rin Tin Tin but also by Our Gang and my favourite, Johnny Wiesmuller as Tarzan. We tended to be not all that sophisticated when it came to production values so tame lions ambling around a studio set, clumsily spliced with archive footage of Africa, was quite acceptable. Tarzan was my favourite by far and I suppose that it was my childhood fantasies that would lead to a lifelong interest in tribal peoples, wildlife and the cult of physical training. Eventually I had to face the facts that I am by far the worst swimmer in the family, would not last two secs in a croc infested river, and that no matter how many press-ups I perform in the morning it is now increasingly unlikely that I will ever swing through the tree tops with her indoors clinging to my rippling torso. But for all my interest in the Tarzan character, I had never read the original 1914 book by Edgar Rice Burroughs until I got hold of a copy a couple of weeks ago. I was prepared to be disappointed with Tarzan Of The Apes but found that for all the authors failings, including a total lack of any understanding of Africa, Africans, the anthropoid apes, human nature and women, combined with the racism of his time, I actually just could not put it down. Say what you like about Edgar Rice Burroughs, he sure could spin a ripping yarn.