Sunday 7 August 2011

I'm A Time Bandit!

In 1981 Randall, Fidgit, Strutter, Wally, Vermin and Og creep from Kevin’s wardrobe and shortly thereafter drag him through the first of several time holes as they escape from the Supreme Being. Kevin and I were the same sort of age and I having walked the three or so miles to the cinema to escape my parents wanted to be a Time Bandit too. Kevin read, Kevin knew (as is not untypical amongst a certain type of child) a lot about history, the good bits. Nowadays and the kids of the same ilk might wait for a letter from Hogwarts*. Not I, even given the choice I’d have fallen through the many realities robbing and exploring amongst a pack far worse than I.
In Time Bandits Kevin discovers a slew of his heroes, historical and fictional. Robin Hood is an upper-class twit. Napoleon the embodiment of his Punch magazine ridicule. Agamemnon befriends Kevin but intends on teaching him the arts cerebral rather than martial (also, magic tricks), but adopts him nonetheless and quite rightly there Kevin wants to stay. Snorts from self-proclaimed grown-ups regarding the lack of effective health care or personal phones in such a land rather miss the point. But he cannot stay as the Time Bandits kidnap him and onwards for the Most Fabulous Object In The World.
In all and Kevin escaping from his abusive home and uncaring, ignorant parents finds something better in Mycenae. A father that is Sean Connery, where he is a prince, and where there are dancing girls which will rather soon take on more importance in his life. But the imagination that has kept him through all the years refuses to let him go and so he is dragged towards the very literal Time Of Legends where he is forced to face David Warner as Evil, and where the Bandits like the ideal chums they are turn up with tanks, and knights and...
...Time Bandits ends with Kevin home, but his house burned down and his parents dead. It could have been exactly the same film had we discovered that it was all in Kevin’s head. He escapes as did some of us, into the past and into stories. Growing, his childhood keeps dragging him onwards to where at the end he has to make choices, to face Evil and not as some tedious destined child or powerful spoon-bender. Mostly he runs away.
And so I suppose were a lot of us who were that age, then.
Some of us perhaps still are.
But I still want to be a Time Bandit and if you look at the map there's a time hole opening soon, and near, and so...
*Not true. There’s Alan Garner and Susan Cooper already gone and here already and it’s Mike Moorcock. So whilst others that barely read might learn how to ride a broom and Impetigo with a wand, we’ll ride dragons and summon Arioch, thank you very much.   


  1. Alan Garner was also a Time Bandit, probably one of the originals. Here a quote from Whatthefuckia.
    He had long periods of ill health in childhood and was twice declared dead.
    "He spent most of the first eight years of his life in a small, white sickbed....'By day, it amounted to sensory deprivation. I lay in a bedroom that was whitewashed and had cheesecloth stretched across the windows...I was so bored, I would create my own out-of-body experiences....At night, it was worse. When you're lying in the semi-darkness, and the moon is coming up, and half of you is paralysed, there is no end to the terrible things a heap of clothes can change into.'"

  2. He sounds like a complete loss when it comes to swinging between strung cages. No wonder he was only allowed to work on the shrubs.

  3. 'The pink bunkadoo, bright red, 100 feet high it was, smelt terrible.'

    I too was a Kevin-envier, not only did he get to travel through time to all the good bits, he didn't have to get out of his dressing gown to do it. And he had one of those smart new Polaroid instant cameras.

  4. Alas, I was seventeen when I went to see Time Bandits, so missed out (only slightly) on the escapism angle as a result, whinging as I was (along with my mates) about the lack of "proper Python gags" and clunge in the film. It was, of course, very important to be sniggering in the Lower 6th, and never good to admit you found the imaginative scope of something breathtaking.

    However, I DID experience more or less the same escapist delight while watching Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger five years earlier, complete with a bamboo cane sabre fight with my mate on the way back from the pictures. Minaton - what a brilliant villain - relentless and indestructible.

    Earlier still, Golden Voyage and Three Musketeers: both completely captured my 10-year-old imagination, and ironically both were stacked with clunge, but it was too early in my life to have noticed at that stage.

  5. 'whinging as I was (along with my mates'

    Friend! Ahhhh, whinging friends! Friends!

  6. Absolutely! Picture the scene - four of us actually did go on a lakes camping holiday after our A-levels, and though nobody got food poisoning, we did get set upon by bigger boys from The North. To fully picture how wussy our holiday was, picture a group of people wherein I emerged as the natural leader. I had to make one of them go and buy some boots because his DMs kept making him fall over; another started crying because his rucksack had filled up with leaky washing up liquid, so I had to take him to the launderette in Keswick. Rest of the holiday I just fucked off onto Derwentwater on hired rowing boats and left them to it.

  7. I am never surprised by the townies ability to walk into a tree. You told me once about this, how you found one of your chums nearly dead in the ice and had to cut open his Tauntaun to make a steaming bed. Then the Empire came, there were AtAt walkers, but you were still a fair way from Ewoks. Thank Cope.

    And you know, Carrie Fisher. Ewwwww.