Lashings of ginger beer, heaps of potted meat sandwiches…
…deep filled pies and huge slabs of fruit cake packed with juicy goodness – just right to feed four hungry children and a dog. Maybe this is what first sucked me into the Famous Five and the wonderful world of Enid Blyton, luring me with one of them cartoon vaporous fingers. I too could go cycling with the Five, have an thrilling adventure, and enjoy a delicious picnic tea afterwards. OK so I was never keen on ginger beer or potted meat, but Enid Blyton had the happy ability to make even sand and dog-meat sandwiches sound mouth-wateringly yummy!
If the Five had come round to my house, my mum would have served beans on toast around midday, and mashed spuds, cauli and sausages for tea, with probably no dessert unless there was a tin of rice pud lurking somewhere in the cupboard.
These were bought for me around 1981 when I was 11, dreaming of adventure and fruit cake. Five go off in a Caravan painted a romantic picture of a gyspy-style horse-drawn holiday, with some rough fair-folk flung in, and an alluringly named chapter ‘a lovely day with a horrid end’.
The other book, Five go to Mystery Moor sounded too exciting for words, what with mysterious moorland, and lots of fog!
Both books were the current paperback edition featuring a photograph from the Southern TV series. How I wished I could be just like George, but in reality was much more like scaredy Anne.
A year or so, and several Fives later, I had an Enid epiphany of sorts, and realised the Famous Five were by no means my first forays into Blyton. I remembered the early to mid seventies when I decorated my tiny bedroom with toytown blocks, recreating what must have looked like the place where Josie, Click and Bun lived in primary coloured wooden Cubes, rectangles, cylinders, triangles and arches. One memory led to another. I’d had a rag book with pictures of Noddy and Tessie Bear. Then a year or two afterwards, in school, my teacher often read out a book to the class over a period of several days. How I would nod off if she droned on about Ratty, Mole and Mr Toad – but on another day mention the exciting-sounding Saucepan Man appearing, with Moonface and Silky the fairy (who made melt-in-your-mouth biscuits), and my ears would prick up bigger than Big-Ears! By the time the book was closed, and the class were concentrating on sums, I was still up the Faraway Tree fighting off wicked goblins.
Blyton had already infiltrated my subconscious, and I hadn’t even realised!
Things start to happen
Spending time with my new friends Julian, Dick, George, Anne and Timmy helped timid little me escape when I really needed to, and pointed me on the path to further delights: The Naughtiest Girl, St Claire’s, Those Dreadful Children, House at the Corner and my favourite character after the Five, the legend that is Frederick Algernon Trotteville!