In the Night Garden is my latest fascination. Igglepiggle? Ninky Nonk? Makka Pakka? It’s disturbingly close to madness. But as soon as the music starts I am entranced. I think I like it even more than my daughter does and glance anxiously at my watch when it gets to six o’clock. That recurring, hypnotic tune. The haunting counterpoint of musical boxes, lullabies and nursery rhymes. The other-worldliness. I have absolutely no idea what is going on and I do drift away in the middle, but I fear missing the magical end-titles. I want to go to bed then myself and fly away into a childhood dreamland. Its makers say it is a "magical picture book place that exists between waking and sleeping". It’s that alright. I don’t think there’s anything that more successfully conveys what it is to be a child.
My daughter waves her hands, conducting the opening theme and we have conversations like:
“Look, Makka Pakka!”
“No, it’s Igglepiggle!”
“That’s the Pinky Ponk!”
“It’s the Ninky Nonk!”
“No it’s the Pinky Ponk.!”
“I like this bit.”
“No, daddy, this is my favourite programme. If you want to watch something, you have to watch a grown up programme.”
“Can’t it can be both our favourites?”
“No daddy. Oh! It’s finishing already. It’s so short!”
My daughter is slap-bang in the middle pages of the magical picture book. She is still open and trusting and lacking in artifice. She assumes everyone’s motivation is pure. I was telling her about how they put the road back after roadworks. “You mean so everyone can go on the pavement again and have a nice walk?” she replied. Everything works out for the best in her world.
She whispers confidentially to me about absolutely nothing. “Daddy I love Coco Pops Mega Munchers”. Other times she tickles my ear with an indecipherable “Whissoowissoowiss….”
She says “Oh God!” and then puts her hand to her mouth in shocked yet smiling embarrassment.
She breaks her food in half unasked and gives me a piece for myself.
It’s a lovely world and if alarming strangeness like In the Night Garden can help me enter it for a few minutes, then I am grateful.