The other night I had a nightmare in which ventriloquist dummies Cuddles the Monkey and Orville the Duck were in a room illuminated dimly by a bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling.
Orville lay motionless on a table beneath the bulb while Cuddles lay on the floor, slumped against the wall.
Without a ventriloquist to operate and give them a character and a voice they looked like the corpses of murder victims. Then, without moving, they began to speak.
At this point I woke up sweating, glad that I had done so before hearing what they had to say.
So spare a thought for the ventriloquist, in this instance Keith Harris who operates them. He sees them in this state all the time.
What must this do to his brain? Look at his face next time he does his act, I know that he is operating all sorts of facial muscles to get the voice out without moving his lips but the fixed grin and staring eyes make him look as though he might one day secrete a gun inside Orville and halfway through his act begin firing wildly into the crowd through the doll's squeaky little beak.
Sooty and his gang were even worse. Although hand puppets rather than ventriloquist dolls they still had a human handler, poor old Matthew Corbett who had to try and keep this mob of anti-social, fabric bastards in check.
He would try and organise something nice, like a birthday party only to see it all smashed up by Sweep who would flail around squeaking like a rusty door hinge in a hurricane.
The silent Sooty was invariably the manipulative ringleader but would only communicate by whispering into Corbett's ear, who would deliver Sooty's message to the audience and turn back to Sooty just in time to receive a faceful of water pistol from the ungrateful, silent little sneak.
Puppets and dolls are not funny, they freak people out and their operators have the look of people who have realised that they have gone down a showbiz deadend and will be forever associated with the inanimate object they give life to.
If puppets are such good entertainment for kids then why are there so many films about dolls coming to life and stabbing people or ventriloquist dolls taking over their operators?
People used to use dolls to cast spells on each other and they are grotesque caricatures of ourselves.
So think about that the next time you plonk your kids in front of Sesame Street.
And don't get me started on clowns.