The very name was sent from Heaven…

Snow WhiteMy dear departed brother was seven years older than me, so consequently never talked to me, and only recognised my existence when he smugly smiled if I got into trouble. When he died far too early I remembered the time, almost the moment, when we became friends.

Family holidays were always at Bembridge in the Isle of Wight, where he had his jolly band of rumbustious friends who sailed round the bay at high speed, played beach cricket, and won all the regatta races. On the other hand I had my little collection of mates who were content with chatting on the sea wall, looking at Jenny Southwell’s legs, and building sand castles. When I was twelve the brother turned up, still in army uniform on leave, and found that none of his jolly good chaps were there. Um…now what? Make friends with that strange curly haired child that he frequently saw around at home.

We got on wonderfully. We walked, and sailed, and built award winning sand castles. And when it was time for him to return to his National Service I accompanied my Dad to see him off on the ferry from the end of Ryde pier. He stood on the back and waved, and I cried.

When he died, I told the funeral assembly this story, and said that I had exactly the same feeling as he left us all at that moment.

And before I get too maudlin, let me tell you that the reason I mention him now is that, on the rare occasions he talked to this tiresome little brat, he introduced me to the joys of Walt Disney. We were fascinated by the fact that this wonderful man, the father of modern animation, had a name and a signature that was so relevant, so perfect. His oeuvre couldn’t have suited his logo more. The joys of Snow White, still one of the greatest movie achievements, through Cinderella, a short called Ichabod and Mr Toad, Sleeping Beauty, right on to One hundred and one Dalmatians, and the Jungle Book were seen, enjoyed, discussed and criticised by these two diehard Disney fans.

So thanks for that Mike. Whenever I see new generation productions, I think of you every time. Today they are brilliantly made, they maybe concentrate more on technique than perfect storytelling, but it would be lovely to talk to someone who is turned on and excited by the very word Disney.

Maybe he’s up there now, waiting for a screening of a new animated classic that hasn’t even reached our world yet…