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A Man of Yet a Few More Words - by Swan Morrison

Bunny Cuddles

Many adults had a childhood hero or heroine - someone whose attitudes, lifestyle and actions they had, in their early years, dreamed of emulating. For some, perhaps, it was Superman, for others it might have been one of the Famous Five. I encountered my inspirational hero and his uplifting deeds in the pages of Playhour comic in the early 1960s.

Playhour was a comic for young children that was published between 1959 and 1975. The role model I found there went by the name of Bunny Cuddles.

Bunny lived with his best friend, Tiny Mole, in Bunnyville. Bunny’s whole life was focused to just one end - obtaining and eating jam. He appeared to get up at whatever time he wished and never had any concerns about, or involvement with, education or employment.

I rediscovered Bunny last month as I was clearing some old boxes from my attic - a task I had intended to undertake as soon as I had retired but which had somehow been postponed for two years. Bunny had, nevertheless, waited patiently for me, snug in the pages of the 1961 Playhour Annual.

As later I sat in my front room re-reading Bunny’s adventures and those of his Playhour friends, I noticed a phone number printed under the publisher’s name on the first page of the annual. On impulse, I dialled that number.

‘Hello,’ responded a cheery female voice, ‘Sally here.’

‘That’s not “Sally” as in “Sonny and Sally”, is it?' I replied in surprise.

‘Yes,’ she said. ‘I have that old Playhour number redirected to my iPhone, just in case any of our readers from long ago want to say hello.’

‘How are you and Sonny?’ I asked.

‘We’re fine,’ she said. ‘We’ve got children of our own, now, of course, but, as you’ll remember from Playhour, we live in a pretty idyllic environment. Everything always works out well in the end. In fact,’ she continued, ‘had it not been for the antics of our pet lamb, Pet, little would have happened worth telling about in the comic strip.’

‘How are all the other characters?’ I asked.

‘They’re fine too,’ Sally answered. ‘We sometimes see Hector Hedgehog, Wally Weasel, and, of course, Sammy Stoat as they all live not far from Happy Valley. Did you want to make contact with any of them?’

‘I was rather hoping to locate Bunny Cuddles,’ I replied. ‘He was something of hero of mine in the 1960s.’

‘He moved from Bunnyville when he retired,’ said Sally. ‘He and Tiny Mole now live on the South Coast, near Bournemouth.’

‘That’s quite near where I live,’ I said.

‘I can give you their address, if you like,’ said Sally. ‘All the Playhour gang are always pleased to catch up with their old fans.’


Less than a week later, I was sitting in the front room of Bunny and Tiny’s retirement bungalow on Sandbanks - Playhour had clearly generated a good income for them over the years.

I sat in a large comfortable armchair, and Bunny and Tiny sat holding hands on the sofa. It seemed strange but, when I had read about Bunny and Tiny’s adventures, all those years ago, it had never occurred to me to wonder about the nature of their relationship.

‘We didn’t really talk about those issues in the fifties and sixties,’ Tiny explained. ‘Homosexuality was illegal in England until 1967 and so we avoided any references to it in the comic, especially in the illustrations.’

‘Even now the inter-species question raises eyebrows among traditionalists,’ added Bunny, dipping his spoon once more into a large pot of strawberry jam.’

‘So,’ I said, summarising what they had told me about their lives during the past fifty years, ‘ever since the sixties you’ve simply carried on doing whatever you felt like doing - and eaten lots of jam,’ I added, nodding towards Bunny’s jam pot.

‘It’s all I ever wanted to do,’ Bunny replied. ‘I eventually grew my own fruit and started a small jam making business, just to make sure I never ran out. Running out of jam was always my biggest fear.’

‘You had a very large store of jam,’ I recalled from Playhour, ‘and you also had your reserve jam supply and your emergency jam.’

‘You can never have too much jam,’ Bunny pronounced in a wise and knowledgeable tone. ‘You said earlier that you once wanted to be just like me,’ he continued, making reference to a previous conversation, ‘but that things didn’t work out for you.’

‘As soon as my mum first read me one of your stories,’ I replied, ‘I knew that, just like you, all I wanted in life was to have a carefree existence, do just what I pleased and eat jar after jar of jam.’

‘Why didn’t you follow your dream?’ Bunny asked.

‘Life got in the way, I guess,’ I began to reply, pondering further on his question as I did so. ‘My mum said the idea was ridiculous. She said that it was impossible to live like that. She made me go to school and said that one day I’d have to go to work. One morning, when I refused to go to school so I could eat more jam, she even screamed at me that Bunnyville didn’t exist.’

‘That’s terrible,’ said Tiny, sympathetically.

‘Aunt Hilda used to behave a bit like that,’ Bunny recalled. ‘She was totally opposed to idleness and jam eating. She said I was just wasting my time and should be working hard. I wonder if your mum knew Aunt Hilda.’

‘Aunt Hilda used to keep giving you big books of hard sums,’ I said, remembering the old stories. ‘Did they come in handy for the accounts when you started your jam business?’

‘I could never be bothered to open any of those sum books,’ Bunny confessed. ‘I hired an accountant for the business and paid him in jam. It’s a shame we didn’t meet up years ago, you know,’ Bunny reflected. ‘You could have been a taster in my jam factory.’

Tears welled-up in my eyes. ‘Sorry,’ I said, apologising for my sudden outburst of emotion, ‘it’s just that when I think of all the study I did, all the years of working in jobs that rarely inspired me, and all the other things that I’ve spent my time doing just because society expected it of me… all that time, I could have been eating jam all day, every day…’ I burst into uncontrollable floods of tears. ‘I’ve wasted my life,’ I sobbed.

Bunny came over to my chair and put his arm around my shoulder. ‘OK,’ he said, ‘I can’t deny that you’ve lived fifty pointless years. It’s no good dwelling on it, though. You can’t turn the clock back. However,’ he added with a tone of optimism, ‘you’re still not that old.’

‘What do you mean?’ I said.

‘You’re retired now. You could go home this afternoon, contact everyone with whom you have any commitments and tell them to bugger off. You could then place a regular order for jam with one of those supermarket delivery services...’

A sense of optimism arose within me as I grasped what Bunny was suggesting - a sense of optimism and hope the like of which I had not felt in the fifty years since I had first read of Bunny Cuddles.

‘You mean that I could start to follow your example… start to follow my childhood dream… even now.’

‘Why not?’ Bunny replied. ‘It’s never too late.’


That evening, after I had made a few phone calls and placed that order for jam, I started erecting shelving in my spare bedroom for jam storage. I could convert the garage to house the reserve jam supply at a later date.

As I worked, I reflected upon how the practicalities of daily life and social expectations can divert us all from being the people we were born to be. Sometimes life can take us so far away from our path that we cannot even remember the person we once were.

Bunny Cuddles had shone a light onto my life’s path when I was five years old, but life had cruelly driven me into the wilderness. Now, however, all these years later, Bunny had justified my faith in him by lighting a beacon so that I could find my way back.

But… that’s enough writing for today. It’s time for a nice jar of blackcurrant, possibly followed by a couple of jars of raspberry…