Friday, November 02, 2007

The Famous Five made me hate my life


J'accuse.

The Famous Five are a bunch of bastards and they ruined my life. I used to love those kids, but not any more. I read all the books about ten times over, watched the TV series avidly and worshipped Enid Blyton. They could do no wrong. But I was just a mere innocent. How was I to know the books were stealthily filling my head with unrealistic expectations of how I should behave or how life should be? I went from being a happy go lucky youngster to a bitter disenchanted individual and it's all because of Julian Dick and Ann, George and Timmy the do-o-o-o-og.

Firstly, half past eight was always, to me, quite a respectable hour of the morning to be getting up. Especially if you were on school holidays. But not for the Famous Five apparently. Oh no. They'd wake up at 8.30 and start flagellating themselves with bull-whips for being so lazy. "Oh my goodness we're such sleepy heads, look at the time!"
Eh, what?? Half eight is the middle of the night when you're seven years of age for God's sake and I'm there reading and thinking I must be some sort of festering bed-bound sloth because 8.30 was the earliest I ever got up for school.
It has stayed with me all my life. I'm 31 now and when sleeping off a hangover the spectre of saintly Julian shimmers into view and reminds me sternly that this fondness for the scratcher isn't exactly Famous Five type behaviour, all this lounging about when there's an international smuggling ring that needs accidental uncovering and the criminals brought to justice.
Every Bank Holiday Monday I have half a notion that instead of catching up on some shut-eye I should find an Aunt that doesn't mind me calling her Fanny and offer to weed her flowerbeds like a good boy. Honestly. It's never left me. Scarred for life.

What's more I can honestly say I haven't enjoyed a good meal since I welcomed these adventurers into my life. I've had plenty of good meals, I just haven't enjoyed any of them. And why? Yep. Those Famous Five fuckers again. I've been at some sumptuous spreads it must be said but they pale besides the grub put away by these kids because when they sat down to eat they practically needed planning permission. I had to make do with porridge and a cut or two of homemade brown bread with corned beef, but this crew used to regularly tuck into something way out of that league called a 'High Tea.' Yes, it does make you think of hash straight away but come on, these were innocent pre-pubescents so High Tea was basically like normal tea, except with portions that would knock a small horse. "Oh we're simply ravenous Fanny," the fivesters would chime (Timmy would woof and wag his tail) before descending on a heavily-laden and creaking table to mow their way through salad, egg, hot and cold meat, potatoes, buns, scones, cake, tea, ice cream and jelly and yes, of course, lashings and lashings of ginger beer. Bloody hell. I was far from malnourished or anything but I couldn't help thinking my parents were like total stingy bastards at tea time when compared to the bacchanalian excesses enjoyed by the Famous Five. I went off my mother's home cooking a little bit because of it. Oh and I didn't speak to my parents for about six years. These books were slowly driving a wedge between me and the people closest to me.

Then there was the simply unmatchable all-round virtuosity of the five. Julian was the leader of the pack, all politeness, charm and calm command. Every book described him as a "fine boy, tall and strong with blond hair and blue eyes that always reassured adults," which was great, and as an added bonus he also met Hitler's criteria for membership of the Aryan race. Although Blyton generally skimmed over this. Anyway, he was basically Mr. Perfect and Dick was more or less the same, just a little shorter and if possible, hungrier than the others. Ann meanwhile was every mother's dream and sought out housework and cleaning jobs with a zeal that was almost OCD-like.

George however was a bit of a rogue. Most will recall that she really wanted to be a bloke as boys got to do much cooler stuff than girls. Or to put it directly, she was a rampaging lesbian who didn't wash under her arms and even wore a prosthetic penis, with the secret intention of violating poor Ann while she bent over to get the Domestos out of the press. She had a bit of a temper on her as well - 'mutinous' it used to say in the book when she had a strop on (that's an 'o' not an 'a' you filth bags) - which was just George's inner rage at her sexual dysfunction coming out.

Nonetheless, take George out of the equation and the Famous Five, Timmy included (because he might have chased rabbits alright but he never actually killed any) were all fairly good eggs and the sort who became prefects at boarding schools and organised village fetes. By contrast, I never once solved any mysteries, had trouble learning to tie my shoelaces and regularly got kicked out of class for farting. There was also that time the headmaster caught me robbing strawberries from his back garden. So as I read and read in thrall at the simply marvellous high achievers in the Famous Five, I gradually began to feel worthless. I didn't even like ginger beer, local crime lords refused to take me seriously and I didn't have a gender-confused cousin I could call my own.

So there you have it folks. I loved the Famous Five like my brothers, sister and, um, apprentice transvestite, and all they did was hold up an ideal I could never ever aspire to and a mirror where I didn't like what I saw. Those little bastards ruined my life.

21 moos and woofs:

Adullamite said...

Brilliant, just brilliant!

Terence McDanger said...

Thank you kind sir, I've had a look on your own blog and I'll be dropping in to take a look more regularly from now on...

Keith Robinson said...

Heh, very amusing! The Famous Five have been accused of many things, but they're not often accused of ruining someone's life for eating too much and getting up too early. I have to agree about the getting-up-early thing though; it's not absolutely necessary to get up at the butt crack of dawn every day. Mind you, they do go to bed early -- they're all in bed by nine.

I would link to you from my site and blog but I fear some of the content is a little strong for any young regulars!

Terence McDanger said...

Cheers for dropping by Keith. Next up will be my theory on why the folk of the faraway tree were actually just crusty tree huggers on acid.

Just kiddin'

Rhys said...

hahaha! *bookmarks page* I'm glad you don't feel this way about ALL Enid Blyton books! The Magical Faraway tree had/has a similar effect on me. However i simply withdrew/withdraw from reality, its so much nicer out here...

Terence McDanger said...

Cheers Rhys. I wonder what world is at the top of the tree today?

Perhaps it's fall out of the tree and sustain multiple fractures world?

Anonymous said...

well thnx mister buckin hate the world!
the books were put out a suppose fer kids that can be brought out of there everyday shit/boring lives an dream a bit of adventured and what not..sounds like you were just a spoilt brat as a child never mind the books
pfffttt

Terence McDanger said...

You've really made me sit up and have some harsh words with myself. I'm now scrapping that post I was planning about Winnie the Pooh being a gay fascist wife-beater.

Moonraker said...

Very good! I must agree, I always wished I could have been more like good old Julian when I was at school - most of the teachers disliked me, it must be great to be universally liked. I also had a thing about his determined jaw. I used to look at myself in the mirror and thrust mine out! George wearing a dildo eh? Would she think that was as good as a boy's?

Rosie said...

they ruined my life too. i have a distinct memory of making a tearful and sincere apology to my mother for some minor transgression and being even more distraught when she broke her shite laughing at me.

"mammy," i said "i'm sorry i've been such a beast..."

Terence McDanger said...

LOL that's brilliant. Beastly was anoher great word in the Famous Five, I'd forgotten that one.

Kath Lockett said...

Oh what a jolly good romp through the memories, Terry McD!

I used to lap them up like Timmy when I was a kid but couldn't for the life of me understand why the stupid little gits would be so thrilled to get a friggin' orange and some measly nuts in their Christmas stockings. Yes, my mother explained the poor English sods' diet, war rationing etc to me later on.

More importantly, I used to mis-read Enid Blyton's name on the cover of the books because they were always in her famous 'signature' style, so until I was about 12 I called her (in my own tiny mind at least) Gnid Blyton. Still do, in fact.

Personal favourite line? "Oh do BUCK up"

As you were.....

Terence McDanger said...

Oh Jesus! You did the Gnid thing as well? The day I asked where the Gnid Blyton books were in the shop, I almost died of mortification!

I have to say, it's gas the way this keeps getting comments...

ashleigh said...

I was the same. Always Gnid. I did think it a most peculiar name. I think some adult eventually explained it to me.... when I was about 21.

Anonymous said...

how dare you say all that about the famous five! they are just books its to bad that you are a raving lunitik and hate them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Terence McDanger said...

Again, it's gas the way this keeps getting comments, and even funnier that the lunatic (or even lunitik) fringe STILL DON'T GET THE FUCKING IRONY!

Anonymous said...

thank god i came across someone who hates this crap.i am 15 and i hate the whole series.it is the only series i hate with a passion.i am really marvelled at blytons ability of creating such annoying characters.they are stereotypical and exaggerated.also her fans argument that describing a character in limited words fuels their imagination is a poor excuse for her poor writing.worst series ever

Anonymous said...

You should read 'Julian Kirrin-the myth the man'
by Naaval Gayser...

Anonymous said...

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19.05
How to Write an Acerbic Book Review

By Jason Tanz Email Author
April 26, 2011 |
12:00 pm |
Wired May 2011

Illustration: Tim Bower

Illustration: Tim Bower

Every year, thousands of writers publish books. And every year, you are not one of them. How can you rectify this great injustice? Well, you could finish that hard-SF epic that’s languishing in your filing cabinet. Or you could just write a review trashing the work of someone who has actually written a book. (How dare he! That adulation was supposed to be for you!) If it’s vicious enough, your prose might make that smug prick staring at you from the back of his book jacket think twice before ever writing another word.

To become a ninja in the silent art of the hatchet job, we turned to the shady cabal behind the @FakeAPStylebook Twitter feed. Their new book, Write More Good, includes tips on everything from celebrity profiles to tech journalism. (“Imagine you’re in college and you have a single term paper you can turn in again and again and always get a passing grade on—that’s technology writing.”) Here are some of their pointers on wringing gold from bile.

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The reader needs to believe you really hate this writer, so don’t be afraid to tap into that keg of compressed rage you call a soul. Think: Who does this writer remind you of most? How about that bearded jackass in the writing workshop who ended up dating that cute girl you liked? Oh my God, that is exactly who he is like. That son of a bitch.

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Do your research. Is the author a recovering alcoholic? Casual asides about the writer’s “well-documented social life” will make your audience chuckle knowingly and drive your victim to call his sponsor. Later, send him a case of wine as an “apology.”

3/ Break out the buzzwords.
If you’re going to throw acid on a published work, you’ll need to do so with style. Season your takedown with mots justes like “cancer eating away at the world of contemporary letters,” “hack sentimentality,” “creeping misogyny,” and “bucket of warm assholes.”

4/ Find a contrarian platform to publish you.
Try The Atlantic. You could also do Slate.

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