RTE report that Ronan Keating is to provide the singing voice for Postman Pat: The Movie. While unlikely to be inclined to rush along to the cinema when the film opens in May of next year, there is something reassuring in the Cumbrian postman still being able to attract viewers.
Postman Pat was a favourite in our house in the early 90s. We would sit and read stories and watch videos of life in Greendale and when driving through Cumbria would tell imagined stories of the community living their lives in the villages and lanes passed by the M6 motorway. The Reverend Timms and Mrs Goggins and Peter Fogg and the rest of the inhabitants of the parish were as real as to us as the politicians who filled our television screens.
Perhaps the appeal of Postman Pat to an Englishman in exile was his power to evoke memories of childhood days in rural England; the characters were not so different from those in any English village and the way of life and the daily concerns corresponded with those of countless communities across the country. Perhaps the success of Postman Pat rested on the fact that children of advance years could identify with the stories.
One story resurfaces in the memory each year in the darkest days of December. It was read to a boy a month short of his third birthday in France in September 1993 and told of Postman Pat helping with the harvest while the children played in the field. It seemed odd that children in story books could play in mown wheat fields without their shins being scratched by the stubble. Stubble in Somerset required shins to be washed in hot soapy water with a generous dash of Dettol thrown into it. Postman Pat’s loses his cap in the story. Helping with the harvest, he inadvertently leaves it down, and it disappears. Months later, when a bale of straw is cut open in deep midwinter, the cap reappears; it had gone through the baler. The finding of Postman Pat’s cap in the story was intended as a funny epilogue to amuse attentive young ears, something at which it was very successful.
Pondering fictional people and moments is always fun, (we once peered at apartments off Paris’ Boulevard Saint Michel in search of Peter Sarstedt’s Marie-Claire and wandered through a Devon churchyard in search of Conan Doyle’s Baskervilles). When might the bale have been opened and Pat’s cap rediscovered? Certainly, before Christmas, or there would have been mention of its passing. It must have been on a day such as this when the sky stayed a deep grey and the wind cut through those outside.
Pat’s cap was a symbol of summer in midwinter, a reminder the days would soon turn. It seems unlikely the movie will include that story.