The Creation, Mister Maker Style

Well, it is a Sunday.



I haven’t done a video in ages. There was a flurry of activity in the first part of the year, amidst all the old Who watching and trips to the job centre. Somewhere along the line there was an acknowledgement that freelance writing is what I do now. Since then, any time I’ve not spent child-caring has been mostly working on a portfolio, or generating all those memes that occasionally do quite well on the internet. When the novel is finished, I will go back and look at a few of the dozen or so projects I’ve got stewing. But this one? Well, this one was Josh.

We have made it a rule to try and attend our local church on a Sunday, whenever we can – they’re following a thirty week series called The Story that takes you through the Old and New Testament, or at least the Hebrew-centred bits of it. The resources are a condensed version of the New International Version of the Bible and a selection of children’s adaptations. There are also DVDs and YouTube clips, at least some of which contain those time-lapse painting things that are always great fun to watch. Services with our children can be a minefield: the church is extremely accommodating, and there’s no judgement or criticism, only wide-armed acceptance and great love, but we often have to take at least one of the boys outside to calm down. Throughout all of this we are determined to stick to it, because if we can’t teach them to behave in public, who will?

Still, there are some weeks when you don’t make it, and on this particular Sunday, the day after our London visit, everyone was exhausted, so we had a quiet morning at home. And that was when Josh – who, like most nine-year-olds, is normally ensconced in front of Minecraft or CITV – surprised me, largely by showing that he’s actually been listening during those fidgety children’s talks. I’d not been up long that morning when he revealed that he’d spent about an hour on Mister Maker’s Magic Paintbox. Mister Maker, for those of you unfamiliar with him, is the onscreen persona of Phil Gallagher, a sort of Mark Speight on Prozac who dashes around manically preparing a series of artistic creations. He has a talking cuckoo clock (with no cuckoo), a gigantic arts and crafts cabinet and a huge following in the Far East. It’s a far cry from the leisurely paces of Tony Hart, but the boys enjoy it, as do I.

Anyway, the joy behind the Magic Paintbox is its replay function, in which you can spend a while making an image and then review the drawing process in all its sped-up Flash-based glory, while Mister Maker himself shouts encouragement in the background. And when Joshua – completely unprompted – told me he’d made this story of the creation of the Earth, I knew it was too good to just leave on the website. It was a story we had looked at very recently, as part of an Advent series that starts with the fall of man and ends as Mary and Joseph bed down in Bethlehem – it’s impossible to really appreciate the Christmas narrative without its wider ramifications, just as it’s impossible to really appreciate that iconic closing scene in Dirty Harry until you’ve watched it in context, or appreciate ‘Memory’ unless you’ve actually seen the whole of Cats. What struck me about this was how Josh had managed to get the whole narrative in there, and all the important points, while retaining an attention to detail that I couldn’t have managed at all. Suffice it to say that he’s a far better artist than I am.

I ripped the replay video from the web using Movavi Screen Capture, which I knew would come in useful someday, and then Josh recorded his narration on my phone. We knew it would work better with music, and The Truman Show – a deeply religious film on many levels – seemed an obvious choice. While I was uploading this to YouTube, Daniel was working on his own video, which I really ought to finish at some point, once I can work out what to do with his narrative. I may not get the chance to do videos much these days, but my children have, it seems, inherited their parents’ creative spark, and the knowledge that we did at least one thing right makes all the fighting and squabbling and sleepless nights utterly worthwhile.

And on that note, we’re off to church.

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