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Date: 09/01/17

The Strings Which Pull Us Back

Nostalgia may be all some of us have left.

I think I've remarked before - but in another context - that my generation may have had the best of it in so many ways. We managed to get through those crucial early years of our lives before the half-crazed ideological Visigoths of neo-liberal economics started to push back against the gains made by ordinary people in the decades following the end of The War.

Culturally, we were certainly at a point where new, exciting and imaginative things were being done in music, film, literature and the arts generally. Even right down to kids' television programmes.

For someone of my age, Gerry & Sylvia Anderson's Thunderbirds was a high-water-mark in so many ways. The Andersons had refined their marionation techniques to the point where the characters were - in a manner of speaking - more lifelike than in their previous efforts, and the concept of the show itself fitted in perfectly with the high-minded derring-do of The Space Age.

Everything about the programme had a high value, right down (if 'down' is the word, which it isn't; at least, not in that sense) to the title sequences and the music (the latter by the great Barry Gray).

The opening titles usually get people's vote for their evocative qualities, but to me the closing titles are the true madeleine. Visually, each of the five main vessels of the Tracy fleet is shown in order, followed by what I think is the superplane which is rescued in the very first episode, the 'mole' released from one of Thunderbird 2's pods and - finally - the radiator grille of Lady Penelope's Rolls-Royce.

The music - a version of the Thunderbird March which commenced the episodes - is, however, the key to the whole experience. Not only is Gray's march stirring, it varies from the standard version - and, to me, lifts a fine piece even further into the empyrean - at about the 1:02 mark on the video below; that combination of military drums and low brass gives it a hefty musical uppercut straight into orbit.

Watching it several times in the last half hour has cast me back over fifty years, to a time when - especially to a small boy with a rampant imagination - all things still seemed possible, and there was no place for the calculated cynicism which has infected so many aspects of our world in the intervening ages.

And I'm having trouble seeing the screen for some reason...