Lying in bed last night, enjoying my usual healthy eight hours' insomnia, and having had enough of the excitement that was Justin Bieber meets CSI Miami/The Fast and The Furious after about... oooohhh, 22 seconds, I for some reason started thinking about two of the strangest nannies to ever hit the hills or the Heath.
I'm talking Mary Poppins and Maria von Trapp.
One fictional, one so bizarre that she may as well have been.
It may be unfair to compare the two (although as Julie Andrews has played them both onscreen, who am I to judge?) but I am going to take the young Nun on the Run purely as her screen persona rather than as the 'real' MvT and throw her up against the Umbrella Ninja to see who wins in the battle of the bizarre babyminders. Because when I was rummaging through my memories of both musicals...
Well. The thought of actually leaving children with either of them?
Let's just run through the pros and cons shall we?
MARY POPPINS: AKA THE WOMAN WHO THINKS SHE CAN FLY. AND TALKS TO HER UMBRELLA.
Don't get me wrong. I am all up for an active imagination. But this is a childcare specialist who not only talks to strange guys with VERY suspect Cockney accents who draw hallucinogenic pictures on the pavements, but throws lollies at the kidlets to get them to take their daily medicine. Perhaps a bit less of said medicine and Jane and Michael Banks would not be seeing the nice swirly pictures on the pavement come to life, and hanging out with chimney sweeps, but instead running around with other kids and BEING NORMAL. Just saying.
As for that rhyming song... don't get me started. I think old MP has been taking a few too many spoonfuls of sugar.
Maybe she's been hanging out with Bieber.
HOW DO YOU SOLVE A PROBLEM LIKE MARIA: WHAT HAPPENS WHEN EVEN THE NUNS DON'T WANT YOU.
Nobody ever seems to question this; even the nuns didn't want her. She was so strange, even the NUNS didn't want her. They were however quite happy to put her in charge of several children, despite no experience whatsoever, and foisted her off on poor old Gregor von T, who was all set to marry the sexy ice goddess Baroness and sod the robotic little fleas off to boarding school (huzzah!) Instead, he ends up with a failed novice nun and a family circus act who are dressed head to toe in curtains - and not in the cool Scarlett O'Hara green velvet way. Nuh uh. Oh and with lots of Nazis hanging round (never a good sign). Then he has to hotfoot it out over the Alps, leaving behind his gorgeous family home... all the time singing REALLY ANNOYING SONGS. With the kids still dressed in curtains, and a failed nun for a wife. As Captain von Trapp says, "Was für ein großes Durcheinander ist. Ich wollte die Baroness heiraten. Aber nein! Denn ich bin ein guter Mensch, ich muss diese Wahnsinnige, die jeden Tag singt heiraten. Warum sie machen meine Kinder kleiden sich in Gardinen?"
It may just be extreme tiredness (and I am willing to concede this), but I gotta tell you something. I am beginning to wonder if the Marias and Mary Pops of this world may not have something to answer for.
It's all very well to dance around in flowered chintz overalls at midnight, singing about when the dog barks and you're feeling sad. Or chim-chim-chimineeing your way around London's rooftops with a talking umbrella.
When you put them on paper...
I can kind of see them next to JB in the Miami-Dade Police mugshot lineups. Being charged for Reckless Cheerfulness and Just Plain Weird Behaviour.
Those are a few of MY favourite things.