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Second to the Right and Straight On Till Morning (standard:non fiction, 1797 words)
Author: red1holsAdded: Aug 23 2004Views/Reads: 3004/1672Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Think of Peter Pan and you are transported back to times of innocence, so just how could you produce a sequel?

The phrase “Second to the right and straight on till morning”
automatically fires a synaptic link to Peter Pan.  This simple 
direction for getting to timeless Neverland from Edwardian London is 
one of the most memorable in children's classic literature. The mere 
thought of Peter Pan whisks you back to childhood. 

I can't remember what incarnation of Peter Pan I first met. All I know
was that I was very young and living just outside Norwich. Still in 
short trousers, I had not yet reached the stage of wishing to be older 
so that I could do things that adults forbad. 

Probably, I met Disney's Peter Pan first. After all, when I started my
fingers tapping, I wrote “Second star to the right...” Not what you 
will see in the original book. 

I have to rely on fragmented, sepia tinged memories of visits to the
cinema. Such trips would require the family to pile into Dad's A40 and 
make the short journey into Norwich. The name of the cinema escapes me. 
I remember the deep red velour seats, designed to fold young children 
in two. I remember cigarette smoke trying to make lace patterns in the 
beam of the projector. We probably had ice cream in little tubs eaten 
with wooden spoons and if Mum was in a good mood and our behaviour 
immaculate, a hot dog. 

Whatever was showing on the silver screen was largely irrelevant. Only
one film, “Whistle Down the Wind” is remembered. This gritty, black and 
white, 1961 melodrama somehow stuck. Maybe it was because Dad had 
confused it with Disney's “Wind in the Willows”. We still laugh about 
it when the family gathers and Dad still insists it was an easy mistake 
to make. 

Yet, I have excellent recall of that animated classic. The explosion of
television, video and the Disney marketing juggernaut saw to that. Life 
and society has come a long way in forty years. 

The film had fairies, mermaids, pirates, Indians and crocodiles. It
helped make Captain Hook one of the most famous villains of our time. 
There was action, tension and of course, songs. Yet the intention was 
to entertain, not to educate. Disney wanted to capture hearts not 
minds, so the inclusion of key themes was not a priority. True, the 
same actor voiced Mr. Darling and Captain Hook, but the drawings bore 
little similarity. 

The family outing to see the film was either a prelude to or because of
seeing a Christmas Pantomime production of “Peter Pan”. I'm afraid I 
remember even less about that experience. 

I do remember my first experience of the book. That was at school either
the summer before or after. In the run down to the summer holidays, 
Mrs. Smith read it to the class. One proud child would carry out Mrs. 
Smith's chair to the middle of the playing field, she would sit and all 
of the children gather at her feet. Once absolute calm descended, she 
would read the book aloud. 

In that reading, Peter took on a different voice, that of an arrogant
and hardened East End urchin. When set against Mrs. Smith's rendition 
of Wendy's cut glass accent, it seemed to set the book further apart 
from the film. 

The combination of teacher and classic did the trick. At playtime, the
same field would be a far noisier and energetic place. Pirates, Indians 
and a plethora of Peter Pans ran, fought and argued. There may have 
been games involving fairies, Wendy and mermaids, but in that age of 
total innocence, we boys didn't pay and head to girls. 

These were the days before gender equality and the sexual revolution.
Politicians told us we had never had it so good and we believed them. 
People left school, started work and stayed with the same company until 
they retired with a gold watch and a pension. The idea of a man on the 
moon was still science fiction. The Cold War was at its height and 
escalation to nuclear war seemed science fact. 

Everyone knows that Peter Pan refuses to grow up. If it wasn't that
refusal, he would have been a pensioner by the time I met him. James M. 
Barrie's creation first hit the stage in 1904. The book followed some 

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