It's 1974, autumn, a rainy Sunday afternoon.  I'm sat on the carpet and have just watched John Wayne in one of John Ford's Cavalry trilogy on BBC 2, one of only three tv channels available.  Then next there's a couple of animated shorts, not your Disney or Warner Bros cartoons, they're reserved for BBC 1, but a film by Norman McLaren that involves animating live people around a strange outdoor garden set.  This is followed by an almost liquid swirling abstraction that interprets a bouncy piece of American folk with lots of banjo.  The films are engrossing, captivating and totally unlike anything I've seen before.  This is followed by a short documentary about an eastern European immigrant working to keep the switches from freezing on a tram car track in a big Canadian city.  The camera simply follows him around on his nights/days work, all beautiful high contrast black and white a heavily accented voiceover contrasting Canada with his old life.  After that it was back to Edward G Robinson taking over the rackets in Chicago or somesuch.

It was the films in between that stayed with me though. Seen only once over a handful of years in the mid 70's alongside many other strange and exotic short films, all the product of many independent minds, all in love with the medium of film and all brought into the world thanks to one organisation, The National Film Board of Canada.

The NFB was as much a part of my childhood as comics, fizzy pop, glam rock, flairs and bad haircuts.  They opened up a whole understanding of what film and animation could be and by extension they made me more open to a whole world of possibilities in art and story.

A few weeks ago I found the NFB website and an amazing mix of animation and documentaries all available to watch for free on there.  If you've never encountered the NFB before check out the website and Norman McLaren is a great place to start.  If, like me, you're of an age where the NFB films were a weekend staple of your existence, then you know what a treat you're in for.