My parents never bought me an Enid Blyton book, which is why (of course) I took such real subversive pleasure in finding some stacked in my grandmother's dusty bookshelves.Didn’t do you any harm, did it?
Or, perhaps it did, since you are here whining about it…
My favourite Blyton title was The Put-Em-Rights, the story of a pious band of children from middle England who are inspired by a travelling preacher to do good works in their community; their well-intentioned efforts go generally awry and the overall message is that it's best to stick with your own kind, especially if you're working class. As it was in significant opposition to the liberal orthodoxy about inclusiveness I'd been taught at home and at school, I read it several times with complete consternation.Isn’t that what kids do? Find something that throws into question everything their parents told them?
Admittedly, it’s usually punk rock, drugs, sex or booze, but hey. If you want to indulge your inner conformist, Jeannie, who are we to judge?
That was 20 years ago, and these books were already anachronistic. But as statistics released by Amazon.co.uk released this week demonstrate, many British parents and grandparents appear to remain convinced of the benefits of Blyton for young readers: alongside obvious choices like Dan Brown, JK Rowling and Stephenie Meyer, Blyton is in the top 10 most purchased authors of the decade…A list, I suspect, in which you will never feature.
And that’s what really rankles, isn’t it?
This poll of the most mainstream choices of British book buyers illustrates, I think, a collective desire for escapism, showing that our motivations haven't changed too much since the beginning of fiction. Even in this age of relative realism, we seem to be seeking out narratives that draw us away from the realities of contemporary life…People read for pleasure? And to escape the humdrum issues of their daily lives?
Well, I never! Here’s one for MummyLongLeg’s ‘No Sh*t Sherlock’ column…
The enthusiasm with which these books have apparently been purchased for young readers in the past 10 years suggests more about their parents than them: that fear of the future, or even the present, is moving them to value for young people a familiarity with a comforting, simpler past, that is based on old-fashioned discrimination.Yes. Parents buy Enid Blyton books not because they are simple, warm tales of friendship, but because they are secret racists and bigots.
Ever get the feeling some CiF columnists are just phoning it in..?