This is my penultimate look at two tales in Enid Blyton’s Anytime Tales published by Purnell Sunshine Library. Tales originally appeared in Enid’s little Sunny Stories magazines before finding their way into her Holiday Books.
First off is Tale 12 She Stamped her Foot. Again we are presented with a rotten tomato of a child – rude, insolent, with a shocking temper. Matilda learns soon enough not to stamp her foot at her mother as she will only get sent to bed. This doesn’t seem to apply to anyone else, though.
What should be worse? Being sent to bed by Mother for foot stamping, being reported to mother by Jane the maid (all domestics seem to be called Jane) for foot stamping and sent to bed, or being ignored by her friends and not sent to bed? But Jane doesn’t appear to say anything, so Matilda creates with everyone but her mum.
Matilda’s downfall is of course the Blyton trademark little old lady who is encountered while picking blackberries. By now we all know the inevitable will happen, and when it does, Matilda is swiftly transformed into a pony. Maybe it’s the same old lady who bewitched the broom, enchanted lazy Leslie with a Quick Spell and caused Interfering Ina’s nose to grow in previous tales.
As this old lady has green eyes, Blyton tells us she is magic. I’m sure I’ve read in another Blyton book that green-eyed folk are witches. Not sure what Enid had against green eyes, but the people I know who have them, myself partially included, have not yet mastered the science of metamorphosis. The most witchy I get is when my special hat comes out at Hallowe’en!
All’s well that ends well. Matilda soon becomes a girl again, full of remorse – but once again looms the almost sadistically gleeful author hoping she’ll be around if Matilda stamps her foot again.
The Very Fierce Carpenter – this time a bad grown-up. Mr Chip the carpenter doesn’t like boys poking about his workshop and running in to collect sawdust and shavings, so he gets a dog to keep them away.
Now I feel a bit sorry for Mr Chip, as constant interruption from your work by troublesome lads must surely be both distracting and irritating. He does himself no favours by letting them wind him up. Maybe he should be turned into a pony, like Matilda. But he gets his come-uppance sure enough for being bad tempered, though I am surprised at Enid not dreaming up some grim penance for these wee scamps instead. Maybe it’s because the carpenter is so very fierce, and one of the lads, Jack, is actually quite a helpful young fella, that disaster befalls Mr Chip by way of his hapless dog Wags.
A hit-and-run driver leaves him for dead (hang on, this is the real villain of the piece!) so it’s the boys who rescue Wags and look after him. Mr Chip is eternally grateful, makes some fine carriages for Jack’s engine, and becomes friendly instead of fierce.
I’m not convinced Enid has quite thought out the good/naughty aspect through much here. I see the carpenter character as herself in her garden with her typewriter, getting annoyed at children distracting her…but then again…now I’m getting confused…
Next time, the final parts (at last) She Wouldn’t Believe It and Rain in Toyland.