Bagpuss – The Chocolate Biscuit Episode

Remembering a childhood classic now, in the form of my rant about the political ideas behind a certain episode of Bagpus.

Well as you remember, Emily, the little girl who seemed to have somehow become a shop owner, goodness knows how, judging by the Victorian setting she should have been up a chimney somewhere, or losing fingers under a Spinning Jenny. But I’m digressing. Erm… so Emily would bring broken object d’art along to her shop and her demon possessed toys would renovate them so she could sell the items at hugely inflated prices. Great scam isn’t it? The junior necromancer conjures forth life from an organ, some stuffed toys, and a bookend and uses them for her own nefarious capitalist means. And some Christians complain about Harry Potter. At least he didn’t breath life into a wooden bookend to give it a superiority complex and to oppress working class possessed mice.

[Harry pauses to calm down]

I’m okay. I’ll continue.

And why was the flipping show called Bagpuss in the first place. For Pete’s sake, the big pink cat never actually did anything. It just sat there like a narcoleptic sloth, groaning like a 60 fags a day bronchial case, while everyone else did the actual work. What is this, some kind of children’s polemic on the nature of Victorian capitalism or something? Were Charlie Mouse and his little band of helpers (included Jenny Mouse, Janey Mouse, Lizzie Mouse, Eddie Mouse and Willy Mouse.) a representation of the poor workers, downtrodden by false reliance on science and intellectualism (Professor Yaffel) and by fat cat business men (the damn cat)? And er….a toad called Gabriel, whose place in this conceit I have yet to fathom, but he’s probably some behind the scenes conspirator I stake what little reputation I have on it. Yes, I might seem bitter, but I’ve just found out that Bagpuss was pink! Yes sir, pink. How the hell did that happen? I blame my dad, we didn’t have a colour television until I was nearly 12, Have you any idea what it’s like being the only kid at school who can actually tell the colours of the balls in snooker on a black & white TV by recognising the shade of grey? Not great I can tell you.

Any road up. So the fascist dictator Emily brings another item, no doubt stolen or embezzled from decent working people, for her slaves to fix. It seems, ironically, to be a small toy Victorian factory – where no doubt small Victorian toy children a flayed by small Victorian toy oppressors. The witch-child Emily casts her demonic spell and then leaves. Yaffle, for all this pseudo-intellectual bluster, cannot tell what the factory is for. He is an intellectual oppressor, merely conjuring forth the scientific ideas, that factory builders make real and torture the working people (and possessed organ mice, sorry). But trade union rep Charlie Mouse knows the truth, it is a chocolate biscuit making machine, and he and his brethren set about restoring the device to its former glory.

Upon completion of the project it was demonstrated by the mice. They fed in butterbeans and breadcrumbs and started the machine. And out popped a chocolate biscuit. This confused Yaffle. The proletariat had managed to construct a cunning device for the transmutation of atomic structure without the intellectual bourgeoisie having a look in. Here butterbeans and breadcrumbs, two ingredients not normally used in chocolate biscuit construction had their molecules re-engineered into the normal two ingredients of a chocolate biscuit – namely some chocolate and a biscuit. Had the mice created a fusion ring capable of heating matter (breadcrumbs and butterbeans) to the required post-plasma temperatures required for the breakdown of matter? Well no. The cheating little rodents actually did nothing of the kind. The same chocolate biscuit was used every time. Typical workers, scamming the management while selling the raw materials out of the back of a van down Ashton market of a Saturday morning. Mousetraps are too for them I say. But at least it burst the bubble of Yaffle’s arrogance for a while.

Anyway. So the arch satanic demoness returned to her shop and found the little toy factory had been restored. Good, she could now sell it on for a fortune to some mindless oik for a fortune even though for her, it was cheap as chips. Is there no end to her evil?

James Walsh has contacted me to offer the following addition:

“No reference to Madeline the rag doll? Surely the ‘doll’ of the workshop. Someone who the poor downtrodden mice can lust after whilst they toil through their dreary day. Gabriel’s musical interludes (presumably Madeline’s ‘pimp’?) keeping the mice happy, whilst the evil Yaffle keeps them working until they are turned to stone (or in their case wood). It is interesting to note that in one episode the mice go on strike after Yaffle tells them to stop singing, a perfect study of Unions in the workplace.”

So Jimbo, what you seem to be saying is that Madeline is there to give the mice wood? Makes sense.