Singing Barney gets my goat

29th June 2001 at 01:00
A young man - described as a member of the hunt - throws an egg at John Prescott. The Deputy Prime Minister turns round and decks him. I surprise myself by applauding Two Jags. Not considering myself to be a violent person, I nevertheless occasionally find a good pasting to be forgivable, if not laudable.

So here, should you ever wish to let off steam again, Mr Prescott, is the top of my hit list - Barney the Dinosaur.

"Ho ho ho! I love you, you love me . . ."

Is there a parent in the land who has not wanted to wring the thick neck of this purple transatlantic pain in the posterior? What joy there was when my children decided they were too old for Barney! What dismay followed when it was decided that it would be prudent to keep the videos in case younger cousins came visiting. There would have been no point in throwing them away, anyway. In the manner reputed of ouija boards, I am sure a Barney tape encased in concrete and thrown down a mine shaft would somehow surface again.

It's not the chuckling jolliness of Barney's voice. It's not the obvious political correctness - the inclusion of a wide ethnic mix and a number of disabled kids in Barney's Backyard gang is the show's one redeeming feature. It's the content of the songs.

Two numbers particularly get my goat. One bangs on about children having indoor and outdoor voices. What sort of a society needs a three- minute musical item fronted by a luridly-coloured creature which should have been extinct 65 million years ago to tell kids to be a bit quieter in the house?

Worse is the song encouraging weans to "play pretend". If TV is needed to encourage children to use their imaginations, we really have come close to the end of civilisation as we know it.

(Doubtless, Barney's producers would cover that eventuality with a whole series of Armageddon-surviving numbers: Don't drink the water No matter what your thirst Unless your mommy's checked it With a Geiger counter first. . .).

I've tried to survive Barney by reworking the lyrics or singing Sitting Around the Campfire to myself in a Sean Connery accent. This has caused still more trouble, as the children picked up on my versions.

Worst of all, there were Saturday mornings (brace yourself, gentle reader) when the kids were up and I fancied a bit of time to myself. "Hey, look, Barney's on!" I would announce and retire to another room. I'm sorry. I'll make up for it. Just don't send John Prescott round.

Gregor Steele wonders whether "member of the hunt" could be Cockney rhyming slang.

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