Having long used the phrase “I’d read the back of a cereal box” to illustrate my keen logophilia, I am gladdened and unsurprised to discover that it is not just me. There is a Facebook group – so it’s official – called “Reading off of cereal boxes”, with five thousand or so people that also “like” to feed their minds while they feed their faces.

When I were studying (he offered his credentials as they peered into a suitcase that was filled with bottles of snake oil), classes in lit. theory suggested this kind of activity was essential. Cereal boxes, drinks adverts, pop videos could, as well as novels, poems and newspapers, be read as having equally profound importance. Everything is a “text”. The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls. Religion is the smile on a dog.

With all this in mind, let us draw our attention to the back of a detergent product container, a box of soapy un-delights that transfixed us with horror this morning. It sat squat on the sideboard, its malignant duck egg blues, baby imagery and fake handwritten verse dragging us to hell as we read:

soft-soap-shadow

‘I’m a little toddler
short, not stout

feel my jumper,
soft, no doubt…

When I get
all dirty,

hear me shout:

“get the box
of liquitabs
out!”‘

The copywriters of Procter and Gamble, household goods conglomerate, display an open contempt for poetry, sense and decency. A burlesque of the touching traditional nursery rhyme “I’m a little teapot”, their doggerel spits in my face, sticks in my craw, deposits jobbies in my smalls drawer. A familiar and trusted rhythm, explicitly linking the joys of laundry with the joys of parenting, the joys of singing catchy songs with trips-off-the-tongue brand loyalty.

“…and pour me out”. Dum dum dum dum. Emphatic. Tea time! “…of liquitabs out!”. Dum dumdumdum dum. Limping. Shoehorn still sticking out the back of the baby booties.

And “liquitabs”! A ghastly and ungainly neologism, a dark demon summoned from the dread realms of Copyright, the sort of tyrannical monster word a diminutive TM or R might hover around, fawning. Across the chamber I stand frozen in horror, one hand scrabbling at the door, the other pointing a trembling finger as I shriek: IT DOES NOT SCAN.

If they called it what it is – a sachet, a capsule – it would scan. Two syllables. Bish, bosh. Lunchy. They could have high fived each other round the flipchart. It would still be awful, yet it would at least fit properly. But NO! They soiled the soft jumper of all that is harmonious and true. “Get the box of ravening lions out!” calls Caesar Augustus, appalled patron of the arts.

P&G’s open contempt for poetry, sense and decency continues, should you be rash enough to check out softeningyourworld.com. Perhaps the clue is in the URL. Here you are, being flannelled into a mindset, a mode of living. The sort of thinking that would be glad to see your toddler pulling a box of Fairy detergent out from under the sink with muddy fingers and a knowing expression, as you all start to hum the “Box of Liquitabs” song. Softening Your World. You want but the fey magic of FAIRY to waft its wand o’er you and your brood.

I don’t think I’m making too much of this. In fact, if a word-loving dad were not already apoplectic about a bit of advertising fluff, the Procter and Gamble-supporting deals and magazine website supersavvyme, linked to from softeningyourworld, might just burst his pipes.

supersavvyme

supersavvysods
“Little wins for you, mum.”
“Hi, dad here! … What, nothing? No little wins for me? But… how am I supposed to recreate the catwalk looks? Is my inner wow not worth freeing? I see. What about my ability to land the perfect on-trend hair colour? …well, I find this very hard to believe. What’s that? “Treat your man to an irresistible shave.” Right, a link to some razors. Not talking to me though, are you? Are you really suggesting that the single male you could find to mention on your 1950s timewarp website is SEAN BEAN? One does not simply walk into a society constructed on gender stereotyping and consumer isolation! Oh, one does. Sorry! Carry on.”

And I back out of the wesbites, the focus groups, the chat rooms, stepping aside to avoid this avalanche of wrongheadedness. Rural-dwelling people, extolling the virtues of Febreze to blot out the smell of earthworms and mud. Really, seriously, though. What are we doing? We are letting these people – with ears of brightly-laundered cloth and the sweet smell of simulated countryside insinuating itself along their spindly fingers and close-shaven armpits – run our lives, persuade us that we are impure beings in need of stuff to clean us, de-hair us, buff us, scent us, that the lumpen, clumping, unlovely words we read should be on-trend, on message, on their forums.

Perhaps needless to add, our little toddler and we shall not be joining in this corporate chorus.

One might even, were one so inclined, go as far as to suggest that Procter and Gamble, and all their little wizards of the dark word arts, can get fucked.

Back once again with vinyl records chosen by an increasingly mobile and inquisitive baby daughter… K-Pumpkin just keeps on (toy) truckin’.

Prince – Lovesexy

Prince-lovesexy-front Actually your prescient pre-school pancake turner began plucking this long-player from the shelf repeatedly around Christmas, foreshadowing the wave of Princeophilia that has crested across the UK recently. 3rd Eye Girl.

Disk-pick debunkers may point to the shiny poly slip cover in which it is held, but this 1988 classic from the Purple One has gained repeated plays despite it being put back on different shelves, upside down, not in the shiny poly slip cover…

Prince-lovesexy-back

Eye No, Alphabet Street, Glam Slam… one could just list all the tracks. Every one a prime Paisley Park cut. Prince’s funkiest album? Rudest cover? Well, there’s a lot to commend it. Your toddling DJ knows what gets the room moving.

Seeing as it’s virtually impossible to see actual Prince videos online for longer than about five minutes, it may be that this link breaks shortly, but while u can, hope u dig this foxy number: [eye wish u heaven]

Still spankin the plank, but this time while getting on a fake beard and driving a chopped Ford hot rod full of synthoblues down to the gaseteria, ZZ Top’s Eliminator album is famous mostly for its massive opening track and single Gimme All Your Loving. (See below for a double bill of Billy Gibbons’ beardy goodness…)

ZZTop-Eliminator-front

ZZTop-Eliminator-back

“Work it like a new boy should” indeed. A firm favourite, ahem. The album reveals further salacious treats, such as “Legs”, and the absurdly priapismic “I Got The Six” (“Gimme your nine,” FFS). Fruity lyrics notwithstanding, it has to be the insistent bass and beats that keep our tiny turntablist returning to the last record on the bottom shelf time and again.

Rock!

Stay tuned to Radio Toddler, where every platter’s been hand-picked.

Hello pop pickers!

Our belov’d daughter began toddling about around the end of last year. She’s taking delight in exploration, seeing which items respond to chewing, folding, tearing, clambering. She is a great help in moving objects from one part of a room to another part of the room, or occasionally a different room. Items that need storing safely can be found in the bin with ease.

She also likes to dance, frugging enthusiastically to a selection of styles, from the radio and other recorded media.

Our front room has some shelves of records. Not a vast collection, but quality not quantity, etc.

record-collection

Astute readers might have seen where this is heading…

For, indeed, among the toddling one’s newest amusements (hers and ours) is to pick a particular platter from the shelves and convey it to the turntable across the room, ready to be played. I mean, I’m not making any claims that she’s the new Grand Mixer DXT, just to be clear about the little indigo snowflake. There’re probably quite a few interpretations of the successful methods of selection – random, slippy sleeves, so on – and there’s a fair bit of dropping the disks en route… She has at least got the whole ‘records -> record player’ thing down. Give a doting dad that much.

Last weekend’s choices:

They Might Be Giants – Lincoln
TMBG-Lincoln-front

TMBG-Lincoln-back

A fine collection, featuring fantastic tunes with deft lyrics, such as Ana Ng (“I don’t want the world, I just want your half.”) and the devastating They’ll Need A Crane (“There’s a restaurant we should check out where the other nightmare people like to go – I mean nice people, baby wait, I didn’t mean to say nightmare.” GENIUS.)

It also has the creepy also genius of Where Your Eyes Don’t Go (“You’re free to come and go or talk like Kurtis Blow but there’s a pair of eyes in back of your head.”)

In the same session, our DJ picked out Bruce Springsteen, Tunnel of Love, and made her way over to the turntable. That’s my girl!

Springsteen-Tunnel-of-love-frontSpringsteen-Tunnel-of-love-back

(“I got something on my mind/that sets me walking straight and proud/and I want all the time/all that heaven will allow.”)

I promise this is a relatively recent innovation, and I’m not withholding hundreds of selections of a rogue Mike Love album, sort of like those incredible basketball shots on YouTube that take 354,000 goes before finally coming off. She did have a bit of an eye for a terrible Dolly Parton LP for a short while, although I suspect that was all about the mem-mems.

Dolly-Parton-The-Great-Pretender

The possibility of capturing all this DJ action on film has occurred to me, but a) there’s the awareness it’d be a bit ‘You’ve Been Framed’ cheesy and b) it’d have to be done super sneakily anyway because she’s moving faster and faster by the day. It’ll be Anthrax, Motorhead and Squarepusher before we know it.

Anyway – keep it locked on Toddler FM for more hand-selected classic vinyl sounds!

Station ident: DJ Little Pumpkin, now being picked up.