As a child I believed in magic. In my heart of hearts, I still do. One early encounter with it had me being carried from the theatre; kicking and screaming in protest of the cruelty of hunting; as Bambi called plaintively for his mother. My parents patiently explained about a magic called ‘animation’ in the foyer . . . while the rest of the theatre patrons returned to the story on the screen in peace.
Animation wove through my childhood. I watched, entranced, as Dougal and Zebedee told stories of ‘The Magic Roundabout’, and the ‘Wombles’ gathered rubbish on Wimbledon Common. While Disney remained the acknowledged master of the art of animation, I began to see other examples; closer to home.
My grandfather would take unassuming lumps of plasticine and weave the magic through them. While not quite as grand as a picture theatre, a rainy afternoon in a grandparents’ living-room, watching those magical lumps come to life, were part of what makes a childhood grand. Somewhere in that childhood I was given a glimpse into the making of that magic. I learned to make flip books.
Just a corner of a book and a pencil was all that was needed for this incantation. Suddenly I could make people climb ropes, walk to unknown destinations and dive into pools of water. I had the power to make seedlings grow into mighty trees or delicate flowers. Of course, my teachers weren’t as happy as I was at this new-found power. But what was a simple biology class compared to a ‘living, breathing’ example of plant growth?
So what happened? Was I the next ‘Disney’? Did James Cameron call on me to help out with ‘Avatar’? Well . . . not exactly. Life happened. I finished school, got a job, got married, had kids and generally . . . grew up. Did the magic leave? Never! I introduced my children to it and yes, they cried for Bambi too. I taught them the basics of flip books and let them explore with their own imaginations.
So does that mean the wonderment has gone for me? Of course not! Wonderment is far too strong to fade away. I wonder if I can still conjure life into inanimate objects. The development of technology and the ability to travel the Internet makes the exploration of this field just as new and exciting a journey as it was in my childhood. So now I am about to embark on a rediscovery of old techniques and an exploration of new ones.
Will I become the next Disney? Probably not. But perhaps, in time and with practice, I might just be able to weave a bit of magic into my grandchildren’s lives. And maybe their childhoods will become, just a little bit, grander for it.