Thursday, 26 November 2009

Turkeys for Enid Blyton

Readers in the US, enjoy a good holiday! The values of Thanksgiving are good, lots to be grateful for.

Brits have Enid Blyton. Last week a reader told me about his defining Blyton moment. It was a story about a Cub Scout doing "bob a job", which is when small boys do good deeds for minimal returns.

In this story (details vague after 50 years) a woman asks a kid to clear her huge shed of garbage. "If you do it right I'll give you extra treats". So the kid clears the shed which, as anyone who's ever done such things, is no small task. So the kid did his best and asked for the treats. "Ha Ha!" said the mean woman, "You don't get the treats because I hid them under the rubbish you didn't clear!" Some will admire that, but my friend, aged 9, was disgusted. One person's "clever" is to others sick, devious, manipulative. So this reader asked "What would Richmal Crompton do?"

Richmal Crompton composed stories like puzzles. William's mother's doing a fund raiser for the local church. William, being a scruffy little punk, doesn't do parish parties, so he wanders off. He meets a frazzled looking man who has missed his train, and there's not another til late afternoon. "Come to the village fair" says William, though the man is clearly a very posh London sophisticate. "At least I'll get tea" says the man. So the unlikely pair repair to the shabby village hall.

Some time before, William had done bob a job for someone who exploited child labour, and cleared what he could of her pile of rubbish. The woman reneged on her promise of goodies but let William keep an odd looking urn which caught his eye. "It's utter rubbish!" said the woman, sneering. Proudly William bestowed the urn on his mother. "It's not my thing," said mother, "but it might make someone else happy. Let's put it in the jumble sale so it might raise something for charity."

Strange posh man, bored witless at the provincial village fair looks at the jumble stall. Suddenly he shrieks "An Etruscan urn!!!" The posh man turned out to be a Sotheby's dealer. The hideous urn William found in the trash sold for enough to do all the charity the village needed and more besides. "Crikes!!" said William, content with a bag of sweets.

So check out Richmal Crompton and her William books. AND CHECK OUT STEPHEN HOUGH here on Thanksgiving in its widest sense : take a few minutes out to warch the videohe's included. My gift to you.

No comments: