Horizon at Sandy Point

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Memories of the father

How did your father shape the person you are today?

If I am truthful and unsentimental, it would be to remember my father at the end of each shop day - usually after eight in the evening - sorting the cash he had taken for the day. There was a specific way that the bills were lined up - the ones, the fives, the tens, and the twenties. He said it was to make it easier for the bank; but I think he enjoyed playing with his money.

Then, there were the deliveries. At night, when he was delivering goods from the shop. I remember being squashed among packages - redolent with smells of saltfish, fresh butter, cheese and brown sugar -  in the back of a delivery van going to Santa Cruz. Later, eggs and live squawking smelly broilers would be packed in to coincide with taking us to school in the morning. Helen asked to be dropped outside her school gate when there were chickens in the trunk. If the word were invented then, we would have called my father a workaholic.

George Banks is a typical father figure in Mary Poppins, a no nonsense banker, distant from his children. The film, Saving Mr Banks, suggests that he needs saving. But you have to rack your brain to remember him in the Mary Poppins movie, alongside the ever cheerful Mary (Julie Andrews) and the chimney-sweep Burt (Dick Van Dyke): who are most likely the persons that children wanted their parents to be!

In Saving Mr Banks, Disney Studios releases what it took to bring the Mary Poppins stories authored by P. L. (Pamela Lyndon) Travers to the screen in 1964. Twenty years of personal persuasion by Walt Disney (played by Tom Hanks) did nothing to soften the crusty unlikeable Ms Travers (Emma Thompson). The breakthrough only happens when she begins to let go her own childhood. The father Travers Goff (played by Colin Farrell) was not a good banker, drank too much, and regularly got fired from any other job, but adored his daughter as if she were a princess, his distraction, his eyeball.

The child Ginty (played by Annie Rose Buckley) who becomes Pamela Lyndon Travers (the pseudonym is made up of her first name Lyndon and the father's first name) is revealed in flashbacks to Allora Queensland in Australia. We see the childhood events that twisted the heart of a little girl, who may have wished for a cheerful saviour nanny, but always had to fall back on her own wits. We also see in the Disney Studios, the process through which the books and characters created by P.L. Travers are brought to life on the silver screen; "no animations, I hate cartoons!"

Saving Mr Banks is a worthwhile "making of Mary Poppins" movie, with heartfelt performances by Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Ruth Wilson (Margaret Goff) and Annie Rose Buckley. More than that, it causes us to reflect on our own fathers, and the kind of adults we become because of them.

If you were one of those kids who went around saying "supercalifragilistic expiali-docious" you must see Saving Mr Banks. And if you're too young to remember, then get in touch with what your father brought out in you! Heck, rent a copy of Mary Poppins, click your heels and "go fly a kite... send it soaring, up through the atmosphere, up where the air is rare...!"

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