Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The Famous Five vs. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse


Some people admit, during their youth, to smoking weed, forming inappropriate relationships, to under-age drinking, to causing riot and affray, playing Knock up Ginger, ringing up somebody in the telephone directory called Smellie to ask if they were, to being addicted to blackberry-flavoured fruit gums, to locking their sister in the shed for five hours, to stealing the next-door neighbours' tulips as a last-minute Mothers' Day present, to looking up 'anus' in the dictionary...

I plead not guilty to many of these - for instance, our shed had no lock - but I have to admit with shame to a passing passion for Enid Blyton's Famous Five stories. It didn't last long. All I can remember now is total identification with Julian, being intrigued that any couple should call themselves Mr and Mrs Stick, by a sinister butler called Block, an ineffectual teacher called Mr Luffy, and a description of a car, probably the one above, whose headlights were so powerful that they could pick out the country lanes for half a mile ahead. Oh yes, and my vocabulary grew by one word, 'deft', which is how Anne was described. I don't think I've had occasion to use it since. I think I'd grown out of them by the time I was 9.

Apparently the first Famous Five story came out in 1942. I found a display of Famous Five book covers in a newspaper the other day - that's one of them at the top - to celebrate 70 years. They never aged, those kids. Julian would now be about 82, banging on endlessly in his retirement home about buried treasure, secret tunnels, spook trains, kidnappers and Kirrin Island, where he understood his sister Anne, now 77 and her civil partner Georgina (81) now lived and eked out a miserable existence distilling useless essential oils from seaweed and bickering about whose turn it was to stroke the stuffed collie...

...beneath this article there appeared the usual two or three supposedly targeted adverts. One read, as far as I remember:

2008 was God's warning. May 27th, 2012 will see collapse of the USA economy, WWIII.

I don't begin to understand what analysis and filtration of previous purchases or internet searches caused this one to end up on my screen, but here's the link if you're interested. But I do assure you nobody need worry about anything at all. It's clearly a case for The Famous Five, always one up on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. They'll see to everything, sort everything out. And tuck us in at night.

11 comments:

Rog said...

I only looked up anus once and didn't like what I saw.

These covers are so evocative aren't they? - they bring back the smell of squeaky library waxed floors and rows of well thumbed library tickets.

Joss & Joy made such a nice couple didn't they?

Spadoman said...

May 27th, eh? Well, at least it's after my May 10th birthday when I'll be 63 years old.
I can never be the President of the United States, or POTUS, as he is called. I inhaled. And once, I was locked in a shed with Rosalyn Bellino as we played a game called "Seven Minutes in Heaven".
Good to see you back. I haven't checked in a while and no one gave me a heads up. Remind me to tell you about my new pacemaker.

Peace to you

dinahmow said...

But,,but, what about Dick? Not mature enough to have graduated to long trousers(like Julian), but jolly plucky. And a real brick to stick up for Anne, who was a bit daft(not deft!)
Personally, I liked the dog best.And the lashings of ginger beer.
I was an immature reader. I didn't outgrow Blyton til I was 10.(I'd discovered Christie by then.)

Vicus Scurra said...

I didn't admit to any of those things during my youth, but I admit now to having done some of them during my youth.
I seem to remember reading lots of Blyton when I was about 7 or 8, and it did introduce lots of new words into my vocabulary. I suspect that the idioms are more than a little dated, however. I liked the Adventure series best.

Mike and Ann said...

Wasn't there another girl in it? Sensible sort...... yes, I remember. Called George, I think, though it seems unlikely. I preferred Richmal Crompton, I think. That William Brown was an intelligent sort of a chap; and Violet Elizabeth Bott a very girly sort of girl- "If you don't let me I'll thream and thream till I'm thick- and I can, you know". But my favourite book, as a boy, was Treasure Island.

Christopher said...

Rog: Weren't Joy and Joss that rather strange couple who used to jump into the water and see which floated out from under the bridge first? The whole set-up smelt a bit peculiar to me.

Spadoman: Joe, it's great to see you. Thanks for dropping by. And you would make a great President, pacemaker and all. Not too late to put your name in, is it? And Rosalind Bellino could be your VP.

DM: Honestly, it was 'deft'. It was to do with washing dishes. Blyton to Christie in one bound is impressive. The titles are interchangeable, aren't they? 'The Rilloby Fair Mystery' for instance, could be either. Do you not have a loval conspiracy theory association insisting that Blyton and Christie were (indeed are) the same person?

Vicus: A very deft exposition, if I may say so, very deft.

M and A: Yes, William coloured a whole generation. I wonder how he and Violet Bott would have got on with the Famous Five - and indeed the Arthur Ransome children? Had you ever thought of writing the (fictional) memoirs of a teacher who had them all in his/her class?

Mike and Ann said...

Do you Know Chris, I think that mixture might be a bit too rich for modern tastes.

Mike and Ann said...

P.s. And the teacher would have to be a mixture of Long John Silver and Mr. Squeers.

Rosie said...

I was Georgina...and Just William. The book covers were great...I still think about Kirren Island.

Z said...

I too was hooked on the Famous Five, without liking any of the characters except Dick, the rest being humourless. On re-reading Paddington Bear to my own children, I still laughed like a drain.

mig bardsley said...

Me too. I built hide-outs and chased villains through the woods till I discovered Swallows and Amazons. Then I made sails for my bicycle and tacked round the garden and fell over a lot.