Yesterday, outside the art school (near my friend’s flat), they were doing roadworks. There was a diversion for pedestrians, and as I was walking along I saw the digger’s bucket swing across the diversion, and it just instantly reminded me of when I was 5 and a similar thing happened.
When I lived in England, the local library had videos (I always went for the Pokemon ones because I’m cool like that) and sometimes they would sell the ones that had become less popular. One fateful day, my Mum bought one of those videos: The Animals of Farthing wood.
If you’ve not heard of it, it’s a children’s cartoon from the 1990s, about some animals whose forest home is being destroyed. My Mum had obviously seen the cute animals on the cover, and reading the blurb found it had a slightly deeper theme than most of the programmes I watched, so assumed I would enjoy it.
What she did not know about was the constant, violent death in this programme. I mean it was Watership Down level, but even more of it.
In the opening of the first episode, when the human threat first appears, there is a scene featuring a digger and a toad. In it, the toad is trying to get to the meeting of the animals. A digger’s bucket swings ominously across the screen, and then scoops him up with a heap of mud (he crying out as it does so). The digger then drops the mud, and the toad is buried alive. A stone drops on top of the heap, as though it were a gravestone. Toad survives his ordeal, but the damage was done, and I was already petrified.
After that, I was convinced that a digger was going to scoop me up and bury me alive. My terror was absolute. There was a time when there was a pedestrian diversion because of building works, when a digger swung above my head, similar to how it had Toad’s, and I had run off in fear, almost into the middle of a busy road.
Although diggers don’t disturb me to that level anymore, they still give me a shiver of fear when I pass them, a reminder of that traumatic tv show.
Here is a video featuring all the deaths in The Animals of Farthing Wood (enjoy):