Monday, September 23, 2013

Between the Lines: Mary Poppins

It's that time of year where the winds have changed. Summer is breezing out and Autumn is blowing in. Now you know that whenever the wind shifts, a certain nanny is headed our way. Mary Poppins has dropped in, which is always a nice change. So please let's have a big warm fall welcome for Mary!

 Greg:  Welcome Mary! Thank you so much for coming by. Your timing was perfect.

Mary:  Naturally. I must say, what a perfectly blustery day it is. I haven't seen such wind since Bert the chimney sweep overdid it on the chutney at my Uncle Albert's. Frightful!

Greg:  Yes, well fall certainly can bring in a chill. But let's forget about that for a while. Tell us all a little bit about your charges at number 17 Cherry Tree Lane.

Mary:  The Banks? Marvelous family, simply marvelous! Mind you, they were in a frightful state when I first encountered them.

Greg:  Really? What was the matter?

Mary:  Well, where to start? The head of the family, Mr. George Banks, was positively too involved with work. He never had any time for his family. His wife, Winifred, had absolutely no head for managing a household. I don't know how they made it as far as they did before I came along.

Greg:  What about the children?

Mary:  I'm afraid the children, Jane and Michael, were in the worst state of all. They were always acting up. They went through so many nannies trying to get their parents' attention that they had developed quite a nasty reputation among London's domestic class.

Naturally, it was only a matter of time before they came to my attention, and I had to take matters into my own hands.

Greg:  It sounds just like calling in the Marines, or maybe the paratroopers.

Mary:  Quite so. I descended on them with the East Wind. Naturally, the parents put up a little bit of a fuss, but I managed to maneuver around them quite nicely. Grownups can be a frightful bore without even putting their minds to it, and I must say that those two put half a mind to it at least. I'm not sure what that means exactly, but it sounds good.

However, Jane and Michael were another story. Children are frightfully clever, and no one gives them any credit in that regard, or just about any other for that matter. They were veterans of the Nanny Wars, and were determined not to surrender. I knew perfectly well what was going on in their little heads, so I laid the cards on the table, spit spot. 

Greg:  What did you do?

I started pulling all sorts of things out of my carpet bag. That got their attention. It told them that here was someone out of the ordinary who was not to be trifled with. The next step was to alter their way of thinking. They looked at work as, well, work. I taught them to make a game out of it. That way, they got their work done and had a bit of fun at the same time.

Of course Bert was a big help. He can be very charming when he wants to be.

Greg:  Bert? Oh yes, good-natured, jack of all trades chap. What's the story with you two? In the film, it looked like sparks were flying.

Mary:  A proper girl does not talk of such things. Bert and I are just good friends. We could never be anything but, what with me flitting about to different children's homes all the time. I am far from ready to settle down in one place for the rest of my life. And Bert is hardly ready for that sort of life, either. He still enjoys a night out with the boys dancing on the rooftops too much for my tastes. No, he is not ready to settle down either.

Still, if we both were ready, then I think Bert would be a fine choice. He is gentle and kind, charming and really quite funny in an oafish sort of way...but I digress. No, there's nothing there at all, really.

Greg:  Okay, if you say so. We'll leave it at that for now. You say that Mr. & Mrs. Banks were really no trouble, but is that really true?

Mary:  I said they were no trouble to maneuver around and get my foot in the door. Later on they proved to be quite a bother, Mr. Banks in particular. You see, he had this frightfully annoying idea that work was more important than anything else, his family included.

He stuck to that misguided notion for a long time, but I was able to change his mind on that score. Bert was very helpful in that regard, for Bert takes the entirely opposite point of view. Yes, in the end he came to realize that his family was more important than anything else in his life. When that happened, my work was done.

Greg:  Perfect! Well, thank you so much for stopping by. You've made this dreary day a little brighter by chatting with us for a bit.

Mary:  It was my pleasure entirely, Greg. Now, I feel the wind is changing, so I must be off. Do look me up when you're in London. I have to drop in on Bert, there's something I think I have to speak with him about...

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