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Now that I’m all growed up, I quite like revisiting movies I loved as a child and seeing what I missed. When we moved to Papua New Guinea, we only had a few things on video to take with us (and the only TV available was ABC). So we got to know a certain collection of Looney Tunes cartoons really well, as well as the original Star Wars trilogy. When they re-released that trilogy and I went to see it in the cinema, I had many “ohhhhh so that’s what that meant” moments. My brother and I had memorised the sound and cadence of the dialogue without having any idea of the meaning.

Mary Poppins was on last week (probably because of the release of Saving Mr Banks) and I found that although of course I remembered all the songs word for word, I’d missed a whole lot of the meaning. In the chalk picture holiday section, all I had noticed as a child were the animated penguins and the harried fox (“view hallooo!”). But listening to Mary and Bert’s song, Jolly Holiday, I was struck by Mary’s verse:

Oh it’s a jolly holiday with you, Bert
Gentlemen like you are few
Though you’re just a diamond in the rough, Bert
underneath your blood is blue.
You’d never think of pressing your advantage
Forbearance is the hallmark of your creed
A lady needn’t fear when you are near
Your sweet gentility is crystal clear
Oh it’s a jolly holiday with you, Bert
A jolly, jolly holiday with you!

That meant nothing to me as a child. And I found Dick van Dyke quite annoying. But as an adult, I am quite surprised at this reference to adult men and women’s behaviour, and I like that Bert is obviously a gentleman. Apparently P.L. Travers was adamant there be no suggestion of romance between Mary and Bert (she didn’t want this whole animated sequence either). But I do like the hints of extreme fondness and admiration between them. Old fashioned romance.

Could you imagine Mary Poppins letting any man get away with pressing his advantage? Certainly not!

I’ve also always wanted to go on a chalk picture holiday.