|Shrove Tuesday pancakes or |
the home of The Clangers?
Our television (and yes, in those days, most families only had one), was positioned high up on top of a large wooden cabinet in our living room, out of reach of little hands. (Well my hands in particular.)
In those days, there weren't many programmes but I still remember them vividly; The Herbs, Joe and the Transport Cafe, The Magic Roundabout, Mr Benn, Noggin the Nog or Tales of the Riverbank. I particularly liked Bizzy Lizzy, the tale of a little girl who wore a dress with a magic flower on it. When she touched the daisy-like flower, Bizzy Lizzy was granted three wishes, the first of which she always asked for her favourite doll, an Eskimo called Little Mo, could come to life and they could have adventures with the two remaining wishes.
I don't think I liked the programme because it was any good, it was more a matter of fashion and a little confusion (on my part). One of my mother's friends was a very talented dressmaker and made me two dresses (one was pink and white and the other navy blue and white) complete with the magic flowers. I got a little muddled. I had the dresses and I looked like Bizzy Lizzy (thick blonde hair in a mop bob) and I thought she was me. Oh the power of television! Apparently I would walk around the garden saying "I wish, I wish, I wish . . .” not fazed by the fact that none of my wishes came true!
But Bizzy Lizzy was me, or I was Bizzy Lizzy, so I resented enormously the fact that I wasn't allowed to watch television and Bizzy Lizzy's (or were they mine?) adventures, without an adult being present. I can still remember the sense of excitement I felt at the age of three when I worked out how I could switch on the television and watch my favourite programmes. All I needed to do was to take the drawers out of the cabinet and turn them outside down, with a couple of sofa cushions balanced on top, to create a precarious staircase that would give me enough leverage to reach the television and switch it on.
I crawled up my feat of childish engineering ingenuity and reached the top, flushed with exertion and success. But I was baffled and disappointed by the lack any television when the Test Card shimmered into view. At this exact moment, my mother caught up with me, exclaiming "Oh Rachel!” my perilous structure collapsed and I tumbled to the floor. Since that moment, my television viewing has been fairly intermittent ever since. (It is also probably one of the reasons why I am a big reader - no-one ever stopped me from reading books and I was left to plunder the family bookcases in any way I chose.)
This brings me to one of my favourite television of all times - The Clangers. I still have such fond affection for the little pink moon mice who lived on their own small blue planet, in their knitted chain-mail with a love of blue string pudding and Soup Dragon's lovingly made green soup. Not forgetting the Froglets (for whom I spent every episode waiting for them to blink - they didn't always blink in every episode!)
My particular favourite was Tiny Clanger, especially the episode where she discovers music (and the Music Trees - I want one of those). One of my uncles used to call me Tiny Clanger (my uncle was the Major); I just assumed this was because I was intrepid and resourceful, brave and curious. I liked music, pudding and soup . . . Sadly it was years before I discovered that it was the family joke that I was nicknamed Tiny Clanger because I was anything other than tiny!
I started thinking about The Clangers after making these pancakes in the run-up to Shrove Tuesday. There was something about their appearance that made me think of The Clangers' planet home. All they needed was a couple of metal lids, The Cloud, the Iron Chicken and a Music Tree and the picture would be complete.
Let me leave you with a few tips on making pancakes. I think there are only few things you need to know.
- Let the batter rest for at least 30 minutes before using.
- Use a non-stick pan or a well-seasoned cast-iron pan.
- The first pancake is the pancake equivalent of cannon fodder. It will never be perfect, but don't worry. You get to taste it as part of kitchen quality control!
- Whether you use oil or butter, wipe the excess from the pan with a piece of kitchen paper. After every 3 or 4 pancakes, give the pan a quick wipe with the greasy kitchen paper. It keeps the momentum going.