The English writer and illustrator Raymond Briggs has bequeathed things, famously, to the art of animation – not just the 26 minutes of shivery joy that is Channel 4’s version of The Snowman, but the 1986 feature version of his nuclear parable Where the Wind Blows. The married couple in that, James and Hilda Bloggs, were very clearly inspired by Briggs’ own parents, who survived the bombing of Wimbledon during the war.
The full story of Briggs’ actual mum and dad – from the moment they met, in 1928, until 1971, the year they both died – was first set down by Briggs in his graphic novel Ethel & Ernest, back in 1998. The film, 98% animated, begins with a disarming scene of the real-life Briggs making himself a cup of tea, and explaining how his parents might have felt to have their unexceptional life story jostling for bestseller space with footballers’ autobiographies. Flummoxed, is probably the gist of it. […]