This last couple of weeks has been pretty eventful. My dad announced his early retirement; one of my best friends got engaged; and the fifth of the Jackson Five, whose estimated time of arrival is at the end of January, seemingly started to respond to my voice in the most amazing way (I continue to claim that the kicks in the womb are ones of unambiguous delight). But for my son, the only truly momentous moment of the last fortnight occurred this weekend – for it was then that he met Andy from CBeebies.
For the avoidance of doubt, or if you’re not already acquainted with Channel 71 on Freeview, Andy is the tall, smiley one. You know, the guy whose show Andy’s Wild Adventures is already a huge hit with pretty much every pre-schooler in the country. Still struggling to place him? Let me help you out. As one of my friends recently observed, Andy bears an uncanny resemblance to Fatima Whitbread.
To illustrate the point, here’s Andy:
And here’s Fatima:
Anyway, Andy was doing a rather brilliant live show for kids at a little theatre in Winchester. It involved all the things that are just perfect for four-year-olds: singing, dancing, plenty of slapstick moments and a liberal dose of lavatorial humour. Seeing the look on my little boy’s face as he watched Andy, enchanted by his every move, was really touching. The amount of trust our little kids put in these TV presenters is almost total: to them, such people take on a kind of cool uncle or aunt status, whose unrelenting positivity and energy is hugely valued by children and adults alike. (Trust me: when you’re mildly hungover and you’re sat in the lounge with your toddler at 6am, you are insanely grateful for an enthusiastic, engaging adult who can relate to your child far better than you could ever hope to at that time of the morning.)
So, the show was great, Andy was universally appreciated, and everyone left happy. But then, as we went to get in the car, we saw an oddly familiar figure approaching. I’d like to say it was the boys who excitedly spotted him first – but actually, it was the dads. For there was Andy, no doubt hoping to swiftly drive off to the Garden in the Night, or wherever it is he lives. Before he could make a speedy exit, Andy was intercepted by us dads and our two very awestruck four-year-olds, with whom he then happily posed for photos.
We all remained ultra-cool, obviously. But what I really wanted to do was hug this man and tell him how much he and his CBeebies colleagues had been lifesavers for me and my wife at various times over the last few years. For, together with the likes of Mike the Knight, Granny Murray and Charlie and Lola, they’ve stepped in and provided a friendly face when, frankly, we were struggling to even stay awake.
So, thanks Andy. And sorry for getting in your way when you were trying to get to your car. I bet parents like me are a right pain – but we really are grateful.