Saturday, July 14, 2007

The ring and the Circle

Something happened this weekend that sent me reeling back in time - in a scene reminiscent, if you've ever seen the movie "Somewhere in Time", of when Christopher Reeve finds a modern-day coin in the pocket of his hired period costume he'd used to astral project himself into a bygone era, and is sent hurtling back from whence he'd come.

I was removing my signet ring to place it on the nightstand and, in the dark, I heard a SNAP!. The band on the ring had severed, and I guess I'm up for a hefty amount to get the ring re-soldered, although maybe they can also re-seat and re-polish the bloodstone that is set into it at the same time?

The ring carries lots of sentimental value, and quite a bit of quirky McLean history to it. The ring used to belong to my paternal grandmother, Jessie and she bequeathed me the ring because as a kid I'd always impressed upon her that it was my favourite. We used to love looking at the dark green stone in strong sunlight together, as then you could discern the bloodspots within it. And yet, in normal light, or at first glance, the stone appeared to be a black onyx. Many years before even making a Will, my grandmother presented the ring to me one Christmas when I was in my late teens or early 20s, as she wanted to see me enjoying it. The ring has survived my skinny early 20s (with a size-reduction band clipped inside it) and my fattest periods when I feared it would become stuck fast, which is the main reason I made a point of removing it every night.

This ring is actually not the original. Nanny's first bloodstone ring was too big for her finger, especially on cold days, and one fateful town visit she hung it on a hook in the restrooms of David Jones in the city, lest it tumble into the toilet bowl. Of course, she then went home, taking her coat but leaving the ring still on the hook. Phoning the store's "Lost and Found" department that afternoon did no good; she'd have to travel back into the CBD, in person, to make an identification. When she told the staff she was seeking the return of her bloodstone ring, they said, "We're sorry, we have no red-stoned rings at all."

"No," said Nan. "It's a green stone with red bloodspots."

"We're sorry, we don't have any green-stoned rings either."

Of course, if it was in the tray in the back room, they probably thought it was a black onyx.

When my grandmother went to Proud's to order herself an identical replacement, they had to remodel a man's signet ring to achieve the appearance of the original. Ironic that the thinness of the remodeled ring is probably what caused it to snap on me this weekend. (I've been much tubbier, so I'm not blaming the thickness of my fingers this week.)

So I guess I'll soon be off to Prouds in the CBD to get a quote on a repair job.

But, as I said, the ring snapping sent me deep into the nostalgic recesses of my TV trivia-filled mind. Visions of my grandmother, sitting in her chair knitting or crocheting - usually for "her ladies" at the Coles store in Rockdale (another complicated story) - while my two brothers and I presented our absolute best behaviour to be allowed to watch our favourite television shows in glorious black and white: "The Magic Circle Club", as mentioned here a few days ago, "The Flying Nun", "The Dick Van Dyke Show", "Please Don't Eat the Daisies", "Batman", "Disneyland", "Captain Nice" and "Mr Terrific". Ah, the 60s!

Magic Circle Club cast pics
Max and Nancy with the "Magic Circle Club" cast; and a three-shot of Mother Hubbard, Fee Fee and Fredd Bear

In my case, today I resolved to search out an Internet contact for Max Bartlett, my idol and role model from the early 60s (before he was inevitably replaced by "Batman and Robin" - I mean, they had gum cards to collect!) And so I sent Mr Bartlett the fan letter I should have sent him in 1965. I'd never sent in any MCC fan mail for Nancy Cato or Liz Harris to read to Fredd Bear on the toadstool, so I thought I'd make up for it today and say, "Thanks for the memories".

Undoubtedly, Max was my favourite MCC character, and I recall the day I told my parents that "Max" was my middle name, since they hadn't given me one. As a teacher and teacher-librarian in 2007, I know only too well how influential television is on young lives. Luckily for me, I had "Magic Circle Club" to watch, but it's hard to convey to today's kids that there was ever anything better on TV of similar importance to "The Simpsons". I think of "The Magic Circle Club" often as I break up kids choking each other, Bart & Homer-style, in the playground.

As I write this, I have a sudden recollection of the episode where Max got tied up to one of the big papier-mache trees and had to be rescued. We all played MCC in the playground at school. Again, until "Batman" took precedence. You know, at Christmas, my grandmother used to take my brothers and I to visit Santa each year, in a magical grotto of papier-mache trees at Grace Bros' old Broadway store in Sydney - and we were convinced that we'd somehow found our way into the Enchanted Forest of "The Magic Circle Club" because of all those giant papier-mache trees. I could almost hear Fee Fee Bear (John-Michael Howson), and "her" high-pitched voice, screeching from within.

As a young adult, at teachers' college, I ended up spending three years (1977-79) in a building right behind the Grace Bros buildings - and was often there in GBs for lunch. One day, I actually ended up taking a wrong stairwell... and seeing a vast storage room, still filled with those papier mache trees from the early 60s!

Magic Circle Club dance routine
Magic Circle Club - in colour, as we never saw it on our b/w television monitors!

Bring on the papier-mache trees! And to Max, Nancy, John-Michael - and Jessie: "Thanks for the memories".


Therin of Andor said...

What a buzz! Today I received an enthusiatic reply to my email to Max Bartlett!

42 years was way too long to keep Max waiting for my fan letter. By comparison, his reply to me came in just over 42 hours!

Thanks Max!

Therin of Andor said...

Wow, a comment on my Flickr account informs me that the dancer in that colour pic is a young Jimmy Hannon, appearing in the final week of episodes.

peteinaus said...

That comment was from me. Some years ago I saw the very last episode, 555, in at ScreenSound on a 16mm editor, and Jimmy Hannon was guest artist in eps 551-555. Liz Harris makes no mention, oddly enough, of it being the last show, presumably directed not to by the station as they knew they'd be repeating it ad infinitum. Rapt to hear you got to speak to Max B!

Therin of Andor said...

Thanks again, peteinaus!

I've now actually met and interviewed Max Bartlett. Click on the keywords and you should find my other "Magic Circle Club" entries!

Therin of Andor said...

Magic Circle Club-related posts.