Sunday 15 February 2015

Nursery days

You’ll probably think I’m bonkers or paranoid, but what the hell. They could actually be out to get you. Or get at you.

Spot the naughty boy

This sounds like a trivial matter. It  concerns Carol Midgley of The Times. (£) I don’t know anything about Ms. Midgley so I looked at her Twitter feed, as you do these days, and to be honest I found it a bit vacuous. No obvious signs of anything untoward. She likes animals and so on. 

So. Did anyone else watch “The Secret Life of Four Year Olds? It was on Channel 4 the other day. 

Here’s what Carol Midgley had to say:
“The Secret Life of Four year Olds involved setting up cameras in a nursery classroom and sitting back and watching as the complex politics between ten children played out while adults weren’t there.
 As you might expect with reception-age kids there was much that was charming, adorable and funny and which showcased what colossal egos the young have. But there was also stuff that had you chewing your fists in sorrow. 
Such as when one lovely little girl trailed after another girl repeatedly pleading ‘Will you be my friend?” to no avail. After a few hours she gave up, defeated, like a lion cub excluded from the pack, possibly learning the cruel life lesson that children can smell neediness like a bad fish.
Other bits too must have made uncomfortable viewing for the families, such as the sweet-looking little boy whose parents admitted they were soft on him because they worked a lot. He was what one might call a “handful”, taking other kids’ things and  being the only child who dived straight into the chocolate cake planted there by adults “for later” to see who would gorge on it, You could imagine him growing up to be a banker.
It was an interesting programme that showed us how early personalities are forged and how children are like little sponges, soaking up everything they hear. “Stop ringing me Richard” said one child playing mums and dads “I don’t love you any more... you are not the dad” Bit awkward for “Richard” whoever he is. Like I said, maybe some things are best left off the camera.”

Well, I watched it too, and I have to say I came away with a different impression. 

Incidentally, where did she originally say “maybe some things are best left off the camera”? I couldn’t see it anywhere, and If she didn’t say it beforehand, there’s no “like I said” about it. 

The little girl wasn’t particularly playing mums and dads. She was just pretend-phoning. She never said “I don’t love you any more.” She simply said  “Stop ringing me Richard” then “You’re not the dad.  See you, goodbye.” 

Carol made some of that up. She must have been thinking of something else. A soap opera or something.

The lovely little girl who was initially needy and rejected (aren’t we all?) got her revenge by  befriending another child, and together they, in turn, excluded the former rejector. So, more a case of even-stevens than any old sad lion cub business.

Infant Big Brother wasn’t much different from any other reality programme, i.e. heavily edited footage selected for maximum cuteness instead of the titillation we love to hate in the adult version. We had the squabbling, albeit more honest than grown-up’s squabbles; we had the scientists for “psychological analysis” like in other reality shows.  We had a smattering of background via clips of parents, according to the conventional reality programme pattern. 

The business of the cake. Why would ‘adults’ experiment with a chocolate cake, supposedly “for later”? That’s a exploitative. It’s something they might do as a controlled experiment for the benefit of some behavioral psychology students. Not just something that would be done in a nursery. Watching a set-up ‘experiment’ made me uncomfortable. It wasn’t even made clear that this cake was “for later’ till the adult came along and told them so, when the deed was already done. 

Which brings me to the naughty boy. It was weird that the analyst kept apologising for this child’s impulsive, nay, reckless behaviour. He kept saying it was a sign of intelligence. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. 

The fact that this boy was at least a head taller than the other children, and as solid as he was tall didn’t help. Whatever he wanted, he could get, on the well trodden principle that might is right. He didn’t have to actually hit anyone, just loom over them. When he snatched the bit of chocolate, again that didn’t look to me like a sign of intelligence, but on the other hand, why did the (supposed) “nursery” play a trick like that on those children. Exploitative and unnecessary. He had a soft side too, the ‘sorry’ card with the bunny.

Here’s the crux.  It’s what you’ve been wading through all this for. (If you have been)

The big boy with the mean streak was called Chaim. His dad was called Moshe. Carol Midgley must have known this, if she really did watch the programme, even though she obviously wasn’t as attentive as she ought to have been.  (It was her job)  After telling us that the cake was “left there to see who would gorge on it” (her word, not mine) she said “You could imagine him growing up to be a banker.”

Now do you see what I was getting at?  She might as well have added “and he probably won’t be so keen on the mansion tax either.” 

Eat your heart out, Tim  Willcox.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for reporting this example of "subtle" anti Semitism that is used on the BBC. It is important to draw attention to this . It is dangerous because it reinforces stereotypes already in people's minds. An example from the past was on the BBC News a month after Robert Maxwell died and just after he's been found to have misused pension monies headlined his Jewish funeral in Jerusalem - just to remind people that this "thief" as they saw him was a Jew.


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