Never not working…honest!

A still from stop-motion animated children's television programme Scream Street. Otto Sneer (a bald man with heavy dark eyebrows and multiple chins, wearing a mayoral chain) holds a realistic-looking heart in his hand, while Cleo (a sporty-looking Egyptian mummy, wrapped in bandages and wearing blue eye make-up) reaches out towards it. A fire blazes in a hearth in the background.
Still from CBBC’s Scream Street, Series 1: Episode 9, ‘Heartbreak Heist

I write this post’s title with my tongue firmly in my cheek: between school-holiday parenting and adjusting (with difficulty) to some new heart meds, these last two weeks have not been especially work-filled, or not in terms of boosting my thesis’ word count anyway. But there is an element of truth in the claim that I’m always working, as stories about hearts crop up EVERYWHERE and my mind is always primed and ready to absorb them. [Picture me wearing shades, with my hands in a poor imitation of a karate stance, poised and ready for action.]

Watching TV with my nine-year-old last week, she was positively bingeing on an old favourite series of hers: Scream Street. First broadcast on CBBC in 2015, this stop-motion series (with incredibly high production values) is a reworking of Tommy Donbavand’s collection of children’s novels of the same name.

Cleo, pictured on the right in the image above, is one of the main characters: a 4,000-year-old mummy, whose friends successively grow older while she remains perpetually a teenager. Cleo keeps her heart outside her body (contrary to everything I ever learned about the Egyptian mummification process – perhaps there’s some backstory?) in a box and, when the town mayor and resident baddie Otto Sneer (pictured left) discovers this, Cleo’s heart is held ransom in exchange for priceless Egyptian treasure Cleo’s mummified dad is believed to have in his basement.

Scream Street is by far the most gruesome/horror-style programme I’ve come across on CBBC, but the scenes where Otto manhandles Cleo’s beating heart, squeezing it and throwing it around the room while Cleo writhes in agony, are particularly dark and squeam-inducing.

I don’t know whether the events of this episode are taken directly from one of the Scream Street books (not read them yet but I will!) but they’re very interesting, either way. Hearts made vulnerable and visible by being housed outside the body (usually in an attempt to make them invulnerable) is a recurring theme in stories for children. Remember my post about Mason Mooney a few weeks back?

I’m brewing some thoughts about the vulnerability of hearts and how treatment for a heart condition (whether via surgery, medication or cardiac device) designed to protect, might also make the heart somehow more exposed and therefore open to outside influence…or even dangerous contamination – our hearts are safely tucked away, out of sight and mind, until someone or something intervenes and brings our hearts out into the open? My thoughts on this are very slippery (and somewhat problematic, I’ll admit) at the moment, but I think there’s something in it. Maybe.

I’ll leave this little jumble of ideas here as a statement of intent/note to self. I will return to this at a later date when I’ve given it more thought.

You can watch Scream Street: Heartbreak Heist on iPlayer here, if you are based in the UK and have a TV licence.

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