Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Spider's Web

When I was about eleven, my mother and I came across a radio broadcast of what seemed to be a children's book, appealing but completely unknown to us.   We were fascinated.  For some reason, the show's signal was very weak, and it would disappear periodically and particularly at the point where the narrator might have told us the title or author.  There was a boy and a garden and time travel, all of which we invariably enjoyed.  In those pre-Internet days, there was no way of finding out what the book actually was.   I think we might even have called the local PBS station without success but what I especially remember is being in our kitchen in Newton at dinner time and straining to hear what was coming from the radio.   The show was The Spider's Web and the book was eventually revealed to be Tom's Midnight Garden (1958), a delightful fantasy about a lonely boy, recuperating with relatives, who finds a mysterious playmate in their garden at night.  Author Philippa Pearce wrote several other books, which I own, but this was her masterpiece.   It won the Carnegie Medal which is the award for Britain's best children's book.

Once we finally caught the title, we raced for the library and the copy we found had this very cover. We didn't always remember but it became a game with us to turn on the radio and see how long it would take for us to identify the book.  Usually, we did know them: I seem to recall Joan Aiken and Lloyd Alexander (and turning it off when it was The Wind in the Willows, one of the few English classics we disliked), among others.   Frances Shrand was the narrator and there was a catchy tune at the end, which some helpful person has posted:

There's a web like a spider's web 
Made of silver light and shadows 
Spun by the moon in my room at night 
It's a web made to catch a dream 
Hold it tight 'til I awaken 
As if to tell me my dream is all right 

Does anyone else remember this show from the 70s?


Lory said...

Goodness, that would drive me crazy if I were listening to a book being read and had no idea what it was. I'm glad you figured this one out!!

Shark Bait said...

Boy do I? I remember this as a teenager in the 70's and have never quite got that haunting melody out of my head. I've been hunting around for a long time trying to find a clip of some of those old shows or even just the closing tune, all to no avail. Oh well, the search continues, wish me luck...