Litrachure Litaratoor Books

 

The GrokeMoomintrolls, Tove Jansson. Some of the earliest books I can remember borrowing from the library (I must have been about five years old) were about this strange little family of creatures called Moomintrolls. The books had a certain charm, and some nice illustrations as well, the most memorable being the rendition of the Groke. Strongly recommended for youngsters, with a host of characters that sound like they’re out of an Ikea catalogue - Sniff, Snufkin, the Groke, Hemiulen and of course Thingumy and Bob. It was only while researching this page that I discovered that the books are translated from the original Finnish.

 

Tom Swift Jr., Victor Appleton. To think I had the whole set as a kid - be worth a small fortune today. They were good fun books for a young lad, and seemed to presage a world where the richest man in the world is a nerd.

 

Biggles, Captain  W E Johns. Join Biggles, Algy, Ginger, and Bertie as they battle the filthy hun in WW I, WW II and any time in between and afterwards. In fact even as a kid I couldn’t quite work out why Biggles never seemed to age from about 1916 through to the sixties. There were over 96 books published, and I think I must have read them all. Ripping stuff!

 

Alice books, Lewis Carroll. More accurately Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass. You must get the ones with the John Tenniel illustrations, which together with the marvellous stories kept me absolutely stoked as a kid, and still do for that matter. To this day I can still recite The Jabberwocky in its entirety.

 

Enid Blyton books. First there was Noddy (back in the politically incorrect days when the Golliwogs were the baddies, and Big Ears was feeling a little queer), then there was The Faraway Tree, The Wishing Chair, and eventually moving up to the Famous Five and The Secret Seven. Unfortunately Enid died before she could write about the Nauseous Nine, but she still managed to produce 700 books and close to 10,000 short stories.

 

Slippery snakes sliding and slithering silkily...The Thirteen Clocks, James Thurber. "The brambles and the thorns grew thick and thicker in a ticking thicket of bickering crickets. Farther along and stronger, bonged the gongs of a throng of frogs, green and vivid on their lily pads. From the sky came the crying of flies, and the pilgrims leaped over a bleating sheep creeping knee-deep in a sleepy stream, in which slippery snakes slid and slithered silkily, whispering sinful secrets." Do not exit this life without reading this book, preferably with the illustrations by Mark Simont.

 

The absolute classic Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay. Hard to say whether I get greater pleasure from this book now than when I was a kid. Albert the pudding was and is my favourite character, mainly because he seemed to be permanently pissed off with everybody eating him all the time, and took every opportunity to bugger off. Lindsay the man was a fascinating character, way ahead of his time who basically ignored all of the wowsers who where after him, except for the occasional lambasting he gave them in print. Absolutely worth the trip up into the lower Blue Mountains to see his house, now preserved as a museum and gallery of his work, which other than the Magic Pudding consisted of pictures of his cats, and numerous voluptuous naked women, all of whom bore an uncanny resemblance to his wife. He was a man who new what he liked, and he liked tits. If you do go up, have a quick drive around the area and you’ll notice the local street names are very familiar to his readers - Magic Pudding Place, Sam Sawnoff Street, Bunyip Bluegum Road, Bill Barnacle Avenue and so forth.

 

The Box

 

Astroboy. I caught a new version of this classic cartoon not long ago. Other than the dumbed down politically correct story line, they had desecrated the memory of the original in a singularly dreadful way - Astro didn’t make that squidge squidge noise when he walked...

 

Prince Planet. Strange memories of this thing on his head that made him look like a cassowary, and the fact that his P kept running out.

 

Yo BroGumby. The original Gumby, not the namby pamby series it turned into. I remember the actual rubber Gumby dolls more than the TV show, and remember them quite fondly. When you played with them enough, the wire inside their arms would break, and Gumby’s arm would suddenly stick straight out uncontrollably, like a small green Nazi saluting.

 

Lost in Space. Danger Will Robinson! Very fond memories of this one, so fond in fact I think I must have been one of the few people that actually liked the Lost In Space movie. I thought they updated the characters and essential themes into the late nineties quite well (for example, the new Maureen was just as big a pain in the arse as the original), and the techno soundtrack at the end was bloody terrific!

 

Bugs Bunny. The classic cartoons - none of your namby pamby Disney crap here. Manic depressive ducks that evolve into complete schizophrenia, smartarse rabbits with Bronx accents (still can’t help thinking of Bugs when I hear certain native New Yorkers talk), small bald men with speech impediments doing Wagnerian opera (“Kill the wabbit!”), dumb predatory cats that never quite managed to get that irritating little bird, or the big bird’s (“Now listen to me when I’m talking to ya, boy!”) perennial battle with the dog. Classic “one off” cartoons like the frog (“Hello my honey, hello my baby, hello my rag time gal”), the gambling bug, and “don’t forget the gravy”.

 

Dr Who. And I’m talking all the way back to William Hartnell here. I remeber when I was very young (four or five) being allowed to stay up and watch some of this very exciting program called Dr Who. Not sure I really appreciated it at that point, but came to enjoy it greatly as William Hartnell was gently moved aside for Patrick Troughton (rumour has it that Hartnell went senile on the set, and that’s when they came up with the idea of regenerating the Doctor with a new body).

 

Star Trek. Lasting image from a very young age from the first series of Star Trek? The bald headed alien with the bulging brain and the extremely downturning mouth with black lips, pretty spooky stuff back in those days.

 

Get Smart. A show that exhibits the sign of great comedy - it doesn’t date. Still funny today, it also has that quality that appeals to adults as well as children. Watching the shows again as an adult delivers a whole range of gags that were missed as a kid.

 

Thunderbirds Are Go, and most of the other Gerry Anderson series. Supercar, Stingray, Joe 90, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. I had the books, I had the models, I had an intimate knowledge of the characters and the technology, and of course the shows were mandatory viewing if you wanted to have any school playground credibility. Whaddayamean, they were only puppets?

 

Phantom Agents. For some reason I have a very vivid memory of the big fat one who could roll himself into a ball, and I mean a real perfectly spherical ball, and would then roll himself at the bad guys and knock them all down like skittles.

 

Shintaro, The Samurai. Koga Ninjas, Iga Ninjas, Black Ninjas, Fuma Ninjas, Phantom Ninjas, Puppet Ninjas - root me boot, no wonder I got bloody confused!

 

Rocky and Bullwinkle. Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!

 

Mr Squiggle. Even as a kid, I could never work out whether the drawings he did were staged in advance - were the random scrawls he started with really sent in by enthusiastic kiddies, or did they start off with the completed drawings and work backwards to a few seminal strokes of his nose. Either way, I still think it’s pretty bloody clever.

 

Fillums

 

2001: A Space Odyssey. A fairly mind blowing film for a nine year old, it wasn’t for many years ’til I read the short story that it was based on that I had any idea what it was about, but shit it looked good!

 

Thirteen Ghosts. I remember seeing this film when I must have been about 5 or 6, and it scared the crap out of me! I couldn’t sleep for weeks, and I’ve been too scared to see it since. Of the few people I know who can remember this film at a young age, all were similarly affected, so despite it’s B rating it obviously had something going for it.

 

The Abominable Dr Phibes. Strange mixture of high camp horror, B grade thrills, and a certain amount of style. Just the thing to keep an eleven year old happy.

 

Fantasia. What can I say? Animation that takes the breath away. Blew me away as a kid, and still does today.

 

Good thing he's the childrens friend...Gamera movies. Who can forget the sight of Gamera the giant turtle with flames shooting out of his leg holes flying into attack some vile monster that’s threatening poor old Tokyo yet again. Gamera (“the childrens’ friend”) left a far more indelible impression on me than the more widely known Godzilla. There were a whole series of them from the mid-sixties, and they’ve been recently resurrected by a new film (thankfully also made in Japan).

 

Hey Adam, I remember them from when I was a kid! But do you also remember...

 

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