I used to hate Norman Price. Doesn't everyone? When I'd hear his squeaky high-pitched sing-song-y whine of a voice I would have a physical reaction – fists clenched, teeth on edge and a desire to set fire to the TV just to stop the noise.
Parents hear enough whining throughout the day and just when you've got your little ones quiet and settled in front of the box on comes Norman to disrupt your sanity. But we put up with it – for the love of our children.
I ask you though, how much can we endure? Night after night of Norman creating havoc in Pontypandy – stealing firetrucks, setting off flares (to warn Sam about Zombies), making a fire-breathing dragon that, surprise, surprise, causes a fire … Why hasn't this kid been sent to juvie? Fireman Sam has apparently had to rescue Pontypandy's most wayward son a whopping 57 times. He should be glued to the naughty step.
Like so many of the kids shows I have been forced to endure, over the months and years the loathing turned to numbness. An acceptance, I guess, that this is the (Norman) price I pay for some quiet time, whilst I get on with chores.
But then something weird happened. The numbness turned into something else. Into, dare I say it, enjoyment. I started looking forward to hearing Station Officer Steele read out Norman's latest misdemeanour. "Norman Price is trapped on an ice rink with a penguin." Comedy gold!
Pontypandy without Norman would be like Jaws's Amity Island without the shark. A boring seaside village full of, mostly, idiots. Norman makes this show. He has single-handedly spiced up the small Welsh village and made it the pyrotechnic capital of the UK. That's quite an achievement for a seven year old.
It's fair to say that he could do with some professional help. But maybe I need to look at my own psychological make-up. I have always been, drawn to the dark side. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory's Veruca Salt remains one of my all-time heroes and she certainly shares some interesting character traits with Norman – spoilt, manipulative, ego-driven, attention seeking and selfish. But funny.
The naughty characters are always way more interesting than the 'goodies' like Charlie Bucket, Harry Potter or Fireman Sam. Give me Salt, Snape or Price any day.
But maybe it's more than that. When it comes to kids' TV it's almost like we are held hostage by it – our kids are captivated by it and we, in turn, are held captive by it's power to calm and soothe them just when we need to make dinner.
Perhaps my new-found enjoyment of Fireman Sam and the antics of Norman are related to this, a kind of Stockholm Syndrome which is causing me to form a bond with my captors – in this case the residents of Pontypandy. Is this my brain's survival strategy for coping with the forced 'captivity' of watching kids TV? Scarily, the other day I laughed, actually laughed, at Hoopla Doopla. I really need to get out more.
Whatever the reason for this strange lapse of taste, I have arrived at a more pleasant place that allows me to temper my irritation.
Unlike Norman's mum Dilys, I am not totally delusional. I know he's a little [bleep] and I certainly wouldn't want him as my own – but I can't help but like him, just a little bit. I know that's controversial, but there it is.
These days I save my ire for the truly deserving – Daniel Tiger, Dora and Captain Feathersword, don't get me started.