Retro Reading: The Divine Ms Blyton

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Enid Blyton – that mistress of adventure, magic and exploration!  In my quest to re-read books from earlier in my considerable history, I decided to plunge back into Blyton’s world of wonder.  Selecting “The Secret of Spiggy Holes” as my text – part of the Secret Series, following the adventures of Jack, Mike, Nora and Peggy –  I settled back as the fifth member of the adventurous party.  While reading, the memories came flooding back and I realised that Enid Blyton writes in such a way as to make certain assumptions about life as she knows it self-evident.  So I present to you some of the “Universal Truths of the Queendom of Blytonia (otherwise known as Enidville)”:

1. The natural state of children is to be left alone.  Parents are merely the mechanism by which children are delivered into the world.  After this, parents are to leave  children to their own devices as much as possible, and this may be achieved through sending them to boarding school for the better part of the year, followed by shipping them off to mysterious and highly explorable places during the holidays, to be watched over by eager-to-serve, yet averse-to-intrusion adult guardians.  The parents in Spiggy Holes have accomplished this essential part of their duties to such an extent that they even purchased an island to which their offspring may retreat whenever the whim takes them.

2.People with foreign accents should be assumed to be smugglers, or involved in some other type of shady dealings, unless proven otherwise.  To this end, they should be kept under surveillance by any means possible, including, but not limited to, midnight watches using binoculars handily supplied by one’s adult guardian.  The exception to this rule is foreign children – for these are almost exclusively members of royal families, and should be befriended immediately.  Developing a friendship quickly and covertly is essential in this case, as it is highly likely that the foreign child is the victim of kidnapping perpetrated by the shady foreign adults previously mentioned.

3. There is always time for tea. Preferably involving a selection of cakes and biscuits, bottles of lemonade or ginger beer, cold pork pies, ham sandwiches, and plums.  Packed into a picnic basket for increased compatibility with exploratory parties.

After dipping a stone toe back into this simple world, I have decided that I will continue to reacquaint myself with old Enid through the St Clare’s school stories.  Please feel free to share your own reminiscences of times spent in Blytonia…or any other Universal Truths that I may have missed.

Until next time,

Bruce