Saturday, 15 October 2011
MEETING MR BENN
I met my hero, or one of my heroes this week - the creator of the character of Mr Benn. Mr Benn time travelled long before anyone else did and with less hi tech and special effects. I would watch that children's show fascinated by this gentle, oracle of a man, who looked (was drawn) square although he wasn't square in any way. He would occasionally go to the fancy dress shop and meet the 'shop keeper' who would suddenly appear just when things were starting to get interesting. Mr Benn was the common man, the grounded rounded person surrounded by colourful controlled chaos, learning from each of his adventures but ultimately helping those he met more than they helped him. Yes, he was able to see his street - Festive Road - in a different light, noticing more detail and perceiving his surroundings with more clarity after each of his adventures - appreciating what he had and what was around him. After meeting David McKee who wrote the stories (the full interviews will be on radio in the next few months and in articles in the national press) I realise that McKee is Mr Benn. The wise and gentle creator of Mr Benn believes that children should respect their parents as the real heroes in their lives - not the celebrity sportsman and performers that they do now - and that life is about who you are, not what you have or what you do. Mr Benn dressed up but never forgot who he was and his roots. I asked Mckee about his travels. He couldn't think of any significant journey although he's travelled extensively. He simply answered, after thinking for a few moments, that his mother once told him that walking down your own street in life had enough to offer if you looked hard enough. I personally always like the idea of disappearing into different worlds occasionally just like Mr Benn did but being my own shop keeper. I think everybody I know would. That was the simplicity of Mr Benn - he tapped into something that is eternal - our need to occasionally escape not just from our space but ourselves. Escape from what we have and what we do, and challenge ourselves and our fears.