Thursday, November 09, 2006

Biscuit Factory

There's a classic episode of Bagpuss in which the mice from the mouse organ build a chocolate biscuit factory. To the outside observer (specifically, Bagpuss himself), the factory appears to be a hive of efficient and prolific biscuit production, churning out delicious sweetmeats at a clip that would have made Jack Welch's little heart pound with capitalist-industrialist joy.

The twist (because this is classic television drama, and therefore there must be a twist) comes when Bagpuss asks to eat one of the biscuits (seemingly unmindful of the fact that he is made of cloth, and therefore has no digestive system), forcing the mice to reveal that the factory's frenetic output is an illusion, and that its production line simply recycles the same biscuit again and again.

I can't begin to tell you how many times in my illustrious career I've felt like the mice with their biscuit factory. As I'm in the service industry, it's imperative that my clients always see a hive of calm, efficient and professional output, no matter what kind of unholy catastrophic disaster might be unfolding behind the scenes.

Today, for example, I found myself trying to buy time by pretending to be in a strategic meeting in London, when in fact I was recklessly driving 15 miles along winding country lanes in the south of France, unwashed and unkempt, trying to get to a broadband connection so that I could send my client a set of brochures that he probably thinks were created by a team of black-polo-neck-wearing, Creative Review-reading, coke-sniffing Mac bunnies in a swanky London studio with exposed brickwork, when in fact they were created by my own little brother (who is a proper designer and everything, just in case any of my clients are reading and getting worried) at the dining room table in my ramshackle French house in the middle of the Languedoc vineyards.

Still, it's a lovely autumn day here, and I think I've got away with it.

Plain Choco Leibniz, anyone?


BiB said...

God bless Bagpuss. Must get youtubing. But surely that must all have been some pithy take on the Soviet Union and command economics? As I stood for five minutes at a time in each direction on St. Petersburg's metro's unimaginably long escalators, I would often imagine that what the old bags who sat in booths at either end with a dialless telephone purely to holler bollockings at people getting escalator etiquette wrong were actually hollering, "Today, in the Turkmen SSR, 750 Turkosoyuz tractors have been produced by happy workers combining labourlust with the perfection of Soviet command economics." Or something. When, in fact, what they were probably shouting was, "Can the citizen in the ushanka please stop sitting on the steps?"

Leighton Cooke said...

See you changed your URL. The old one is all about pantyhose now.

patroclus said...

BiB: I have no idea what command economics are, even though I 'did' Stalin (not in that way) for A-level. Were there really women sitting at either end of the escalator with telephones? That's brilliant, like some kind of 1950s B-movie. What's a ushanka?

Leighton: Yes, I jumped ship (oh ho ho, how funny I am) to here. Welcome back!

Billy said...

No! My illusions shattered!

Still at least remembering about Bagpuss will cheer me up.#

*runs off to search youtube for bagpuss videos*

BiB said...

Ushi is Russian for ears, and an ushanka is one of those Russian hats with the ear-flaps, though hard Russians didn't bother unleashing the flaps to keep their ears warm. I did, galore.

Yes, ancient women in booths, probably dead, many of them, with phones with no dial, fit merely for loud, public bollockings and chatting to her (also dead) colleague at the other end of the escalator, which might as well have been Vladivostok.

No idea what command economics are either. Was trying to show off.

BiB said...

PS. Billy, youtube hopeless for Bagpuss.

Anonymous said...

Who did the narration on Bagpuss? I seem to remember he was the same guy who did Noggin the Nog. Lovely voice, anyway.

belladona said...

That's my favourite ever episode of Bagpuss! It always seemed a bit of a social comment, that one. Didn't we once have a drunken conversation about this?

patroclus said...

We've definitely talked about it bella, because you said that the chocolate biscuit factory was a great metaphor for all kinds of things. It's the only thing I remember from Bagpuss, and it's remained etched on my mind, like that story in the 1977 Brownie Annual about the one Brownie who was good at sport and the other one who was rubbish at sport but could make fairy cakes.

Realdoc, I don't know who narrated Bagpuss. Anyone?

Oo, imagine an escalator that went all the way from St Petersburg to Vladivostok - it would be even longer than the 'escalator link' between Bank and Monument.

Anonymous said...

>>Realdoc, I don't know who narrated Bagpuss. Anyone?<<

Oliver Postgate, wasn't it? Or was he just the creator?

Ok, I've googled it now. Yep, he did both.

entropy said...

There's always the DVD (all 13 episodes, biscuit factory and everything). Usually slightly worrying watching things you remember from waaaaay back, but in this case it stands up rather well.

Dammit, now I've got that version of Row Row Row your boat stuck in my head.

ScroobiousScrivener said...

See also AA Milne's Once on a Time, which features an "army" of one child in armour, running around and around a tree.

God I love that book. And now Google has led me to a purveyor of vintage children's books. My bank balance may never recover.

LC said...

There's a great pub in Hove called the Biscuit Factory. That's really all I have to contribute to this thread, since my choice of animated felines lay firmly in the Thundercats camp as a youngster, and there weren't many intruiging metaphors to be found there I'm afraid.

Mangonel said...

Scroob, I LOVE Once on a Time! Completely hilarious at any age. So nice to find someone who has even heard of it. And the drawings are lovely. 'Eloise' is in the same league for illustration. Story is pretty triff but the drawings are great. (I made the mistake of getting the collected Eloise which came in a big book so fat that reading it is uncomfortable - wish I had got all the stories individually.)

Forgive the liberty I took with your handle, but the very thought of having to type out Scroobiousscrivener made my fingertips bleed.

Quink, sorry for hijacking your lovely lovely post. Would comment but you mentioned plain choco leibnitz and my keyboard is now unattractively covered in drool.

ScroobiousScrivener said...

Even I sign off as Scroob when need be, so well done. "Quink", however, that's just cheeky!

I haven't seen much Eloise... must rectify.

frangelita said...

Mac Bunny.


And lc - I have thundercats the movie on video. It's a pink cassette.

Old skool.

smoo2 said...

Oooh, your *man* is becoming quite a heart throb, due to his appearance at the GW book signing!They even say his hair rivals JRT's! You can read the GW forum and SM/JRT fansites for a laugh, um, I mean, a swoon.

Spinsterella said...

Bagpuss had meaning?

God, just how much else has gone completely ove my head? Next thing you'll be telling me there's some interpretation of Animal Farm other than a load of talking animals having a bit of craic.

Del said...

All i can remember is the mice going "Heave! Heave! Heave!" And that weird clockwork bird. And the ragdoll that would stop anyone having any fun.

And yes, I know exactly what you mean. Working in tha mejah, the product is always shiny and gleaming, even if we stuck it together with pritstick and spit. Happy days.

I really want a Chocolate Digestive now.

llewtrah said...

There's a biscuit factory in the Trumptonverse. When the end of shift whistle goes, everyone comes out and dances. I was very disappointed when I went to work, also in a factory setting, that no-one danced.

Although I didn't watch much Bagpuss (Trumpton, Camberwick Green and Chigley were my faves), I have a mini Bagpuss.