Much to my delight, courtesy of the Times, I have acquired a DVD of the charming BBC TV version of Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden. It is so lovely when things you recall from the past turn out to be as good as, and better, than you remember, which is the case with this particular series. And how much in the past – I was shocked to see in the titles at the end of the first episode that it was made in 1975! Over thirty years ago, and I remember it so well – though at the time I would have watched it on a small black and white TV and would not have been able to record it, as video-recorders hadn't been invented, let alone DVD's; and the idea of watching it on a lap-top computer on a boat on the river would have seemed like pure science fiction at the time! I think the last time I even read the book was about 1982, when I was stuck in the rather grotty youth hostel in Athens, with very little money and nothing else to read – it kept me going, reading of windy Victorian moors amod the heat and traffic of the Greek capital, all those years ago. It is an absolutely magical and very touching story, I think, and contains some sort of inner truth lacking on many a more sophisticated literary work; the 70's BBC adaptation is perfect – particularly the child actors – I don't think they could make something as good nowadays, despite modern glossy 'production values', because the essential innocence, the high cultural level assumed in the audience and the faithfulness to the original of that time has largely vanished from contemporary, vulgar and sensational British culture, what's left of it. How I do enjoy living in the past – so infinitely preferable to the present, not to mention the future, no doubt!
A Children’s classic re-discovered