Saturday, 7 April 2012

Everyone should have an Aunt Fanny

Squirrel has found Enid Blyton.

(Yes, Enid Blyton and God are equal on the same footing right now, so either reading will do.)

When I discovered just how bright and glorious was Enid's salvation, one side of my brain exploded into melty panic. So would yours, if you saw how Squirrel's face lit up in a combustion of heaven-sent glee at discovering a 1968 copy of Five Go Off in a Caravan at the local charity shop (5p bucket).

What?? After I've plugged away for years, determined to create scholars of fine literature? Is this what it's come down to? Enid and a caravan?

So what does this say about my provision of a kiddy EngLit education? Here I am, feeding my offspring fine classic books of childhood, a selection of great and ageless literature, all the worthy kid lit authors, and I've paid for the Morpurgo-inspired plays, lit the incense at the shrine to David Almond, and ploughed my way through a routine and seasonal Dickens with all the voices.

So help me, I've even had a crack at a kid-style singalong with TS Eliot over the breakfast table. Believe me, I have suffered for the written word.

And now this is my reward. 'Mummy! They're going off in a caravan'. (Read: Self-evident access to Paradise/Heaven/Eden/Glory Be).

I am trying to stay calm. I have said nothing to Squirrel about her choice. I'm even letting her run through every 5p charity shop bucket within miles so she can collect and enjoy the entire works of Our Lord Enid.

But now it is true, that the calmer I remain, the more I can hear the other voice in my brain. The one which whispers, Enjoy Enid.

Because isn't it a terrible thing, to be denied the excitement of a caravan holiday, an adventure with Timmy, and an Aunt Fanny?

Maybe there is a bit of me, that is a touch envious of her innocent reading joy. I have had mine beaten out of me. Better preserve it in Squirrel. Perhaps she's inherited that special gift from her grandmother; my mother who would cosy up with Catherine Cookson in the morning and sit with Leo Tolstoy in the afternoon. She was happy with both, and then she would pick up a history of trade unionism in the evening.

That is a great gift. To be free in your choice, able to take in wonderful worlds at a leap, and happy with your ability to walk anywhere with anyone, judged by no-one.

Except me. Miserably, I would judge. I had been schooled. I had been brought to that meagre, uncharitable state, where you are given sanction and approval to be snooty about everyone else's reading pleasure; that elevated state where you can be shamed by popular writers colonising the family bookshelf, taking the space of worthies on the reading list.

Wisely, my mother took no notice of my fingering Cookson's pages as if they were diseased. She went to the library, and stocked up on Josephine Tey.

I have grown up since then. A bit of me - no, the normal, human, enjoyable, unschooled resistant large chunk of me - is now able to utterly enjoy Squirrel's delight, her lit-up bright face, at finding Enid and the Caravan.

I'm willing to bet it won't stop her racing off to Trollope or Dickens, and - without my messy intervention of pompous schooled prejudices - she'll always be able to unashamedly say, Enid Blyton? I loved her stories when I was growing up.


sharon said...

In Primary I read just about every book EB wrote and enjoyed them hugely. However the practical little voice in my head always wanted to know how come the Famous 5 or the Secret 7 never needed to pee - even when they were locked in cellars or trapped in caves or whatever.

And case you are concerned about my reading choices at primary level, amongst other things I also read all of the Just Williams, every single Biggles book, sundry other children's series, some Jules Verne and most of Dickens. Squirrel will outgrow Enid and be none the worse for it. As you know, a varied diet of anything is the best one to follow after all ;-)

Helen of SJ said...

This post made me laugh. I can so relate!!!! Why have I wasted my precious years homeschooling my boys if they could be swept away by silly books like The Hunger Games or other juvenile junk out there?

MadameSmokinGun said...

Thank f**k none of my boys can read - I can still dictate an Enid-free house. This isn't snobbery as I wasn't aware she was to be snobbered about - I just loathed it as a kid and resisted all attempts to dip my arsey toe in such twee waters.. It must have been cos my mother liked it - a sure sign I'd hate it. Minx is way beyond the clutches of foreign voices spoiling a good picnic and is happily devouring all the latest teen junk. Much more fun. Altho' obviously I don't let on that I like it... she might turn against it and look fondly at Mallory Towers or something evil.... save me!!

Grit said...

yes sharon! re the peeing, we have had a conversation today much along these same lines. 'why don't the famous five ever have an argument and one punches the other?' and 'how come they put a pillow in their bed and make it look like them? it's never worked for me.'

there is a HUGE amount of JUNK, helen. I am never forgiving the magic kitten nor the fairies who lose their handbags. these things should NOT BE, and probably make the case for book burning.

mme sg, you will be safe from the cult of enid, on that i am sure. if minx hasn't got it now, she probably won't. and did boys ever want to read malory towers?

MadameSmokinGun said...

After spewing out my probably unwanted opiniated opinions I flew out the house in my usual flap.... and in a calmer moment much later thought 'ooh that was a bit rude'. Just thought I'd apologise for being most ungracious about another's choice of reading matter! Now I don't often apologise for my outbursts, I normally just mutter off in a corner somewhere... I think I'm having a personality crisis..... again....