Monochrome

Monochrome

This is the voice of the Mysterons, we know that you can hear us earthmen…

I lived my childhood in scrambled monochrome,
Before internet wonders and the advent of the mobile phone.
My screen was 14 inches by 10,
Untouchable and no swiping back then.
The TV lived on a shelf in the corner,
Black and white, with a rotary tuner.
You could get all the channels, BBC and ITV,
And if you were lucky, the test card made three.

A little girl with dark dress and matching hair band,
Playing noughts and crosses with chalk in her hand.
Her stuffed opponent with wild staring eyes,
Fixed grin, an expression of tortured surprise.
I’m amazed more people don’t have the same dream,
Of those two creatures crawling out from the screen,
Shedding their static and painful photons,
And turning into misanthropic Mysterons.

This is the voice of the scary-eyed stuffed toy, we know that you can hear us children.

At first, I binged on a diet of Bagpuss and Mr. Ben’s wardrobe,
Before Telly Tubbies melted a generation’s frontal lobes.
But Mr. Ben was arrested for historic child abuse,
And Bagpuss went feral after hitting the booze.
So onto Marine Boy, my first taste of Japanese anime,
His oxy-gum could have been useful to the crew of Stingray.

Marina, aqua Marina,
What are these strange enchantments that start whenever you’re near…

Ah Marina, Marina… that relationship wasn’t entirely platonic,
Here’s me, an eight year old boy, sexually aroused by a puppet.
Then there was Joe 90, with his glasses from the NHS,
More Milky Bar Kid than spy, in his psychedelic vortex.
And Fireball XL5, commanded by Colonel Steve Zodiac,
Low-budget special effects, I still get the XL5 flashbacks.
Some say Thunderbirds was the pinnacle of supermarionation,
With rocket ships and that fellah stranded alone in the space station.
But I’m not so sure that the Tracey family were the apogee,
Just look at the pile of shite that was Thunderbird Three.

Then one day, a mild epiphany, while I was fiddling with the tuning,
Captain Scarlet… watching that in hues of grey was quite confusing.
Scarlet and Captain Black were easy, but Magenta, Ochre and Green,
They were hard to follow on a fuzzy 14 by 10 inch screen.
He was indestructible, even in black and white,
Him and his Angels of the sky, always ready to take flight,
If I recall they were Destiny, Symphony, Melody and Harmony,
And yet again, I must confess that I had a crush on Rhapsody.
Captain Scarlet fought the good fight, commanded by Colonel White.
You’d know the Mysterons from the moving circles of light.
“This is the voice of the Mysterons, we know that you can hear us earthmen”,
Idle threats they were, thwarted and outwitted again and again.

Hiding behind the settee, I’d lurch and convulse,
As Captain Scarlet did battle and the Mysterons were repulsed.
And when it was done and Captain Black was defeated,
I’d sit back down, all cathartic and exhausted,
And my child-mind’s meanderings were soon distracted,
By Blue Peter’s patronising, middle-class didactic.
And then the afternoon’s entertainment came to its climax,
A new paradigm of stellar stuffed-toy parallax.
Another set of mannequins, extraplanetary,
Piping voices, whistling existential commentary.
The garbling soup dragon, in dialectical discussion,
With warbling Clangers and a geo-stationary iron chicken.

But that was then and this is now, and I am much older.
Though my memories remain, they’re increasingly bipolar.
Captain Scarlet’s on Youtube in high definition,
And the Clangers are masters of linguistic erudition.
But you see the strings now and the slipshod animation,
Gone is the wonder of Gerry Anderson’s rolling credits anticipation
I lived my childhood in static infused shades of grey
Loitering under 1970’s spider plant macramé.
The TV on the shelf glittered in white and black,
And life in colour suffers from a paucity, a lack,
Of the magical Mysterons and the indestructible Captain Scarlet,
And now the skies of my young imagination, are starless.

This is the voice of the Mysterons, we know that you can hear us earthmen…

I lived my childhood in scrambled monochrome.
I’ve lived my life in monochrome.
My life in monochrome.
Monochrome.

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