I’m on my way home for Christmas. I’ve got blogs on personal responsibility in behavioral problems, the place of Ritalin, the death of the NHS’s soul, and the mendacity of the government’s SEN proposals buzzing round my head, but I haven’t the energy for those big beasts.
I want to talk about one of my heroes, a crudely animated engine driver called Edwin Jones, or Jones the steam as most of his friends in that rainy top left hand corner of Wales call him.
This isn’t childhood nostalgia. I never watched Ivor the engine as a child, mainly because there isn’t any fighting. But I bought a DVD for my son when he was going through his train phase, and I loved it.
There’s the gentle humour, the wonderfully drawn (literally) characters, and the fact that no-one seems that bothered that the steam engine talks (sort of) and sings bass in the local choir. But mainly I love Jones.
‘it’s no bother, Mrs Porty’
Jones is kind, in an understated, matter-of-fact way we seem to have lost. His quiet dedication to public service very much reflects the communitarian politics of his creator, the late Oliver Postgate.
‘But he’s a good donkey, really’
Jones is open minded. He treats every character, be they railway official, Indian elephant keeper, engine or donkey, with exactly the same respect. He takes time to listen and has no time for hierarchies.
‘calm down you lot, it’s alright’
Jones is phlegmatic. Even when piloting a train full of unruly sheep through a snow drift, he is cheerfully calm; no drama, years before Obama.
There are so many great things about this inventive, whimsical, lovely Welshman, but I don’t want to go on. Fictional or not, Jones is, genuinely, an inspiration to me, the embodiment of Postgate’s high ideals and storytelling genius .
Anyway, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or your kindness is exhausted, I recommend a few minutes of Ivor and his driver.
Merry Christmas, internet people.