I recently dug up a couple of literary gems from my childhood (thanks mum and dad. No really, thanks). Look, shit was different back then, but I remember “The Runaway Balloon” by Rosamund Cross being a perennial fave. It was all very Stepford Mumsy, about 3 kids who buy three balloons – a golliwog, a red indian and a clown (an african, native american and fucked-up cosmetic madman to you) but Thomas trips and loses Golliwog (!) and there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth, but golliwog gets caught in a TV aerial (remember those?) and is rescued! Inspiring stuff.
I don’t know why I loved this book so much, because I fucking hate clowns, but then, why would you be someone who watches “The Exorcist” 100 times? Not for pleasure, clearly. But I digress.
In the literary landscape of 1974, the terminology of “red indian” and “golliwog” was perfectly appropriate, although no-one would ever write a book with these characters today, which makes me wonder whether in 2040, the next generation will take exception to the character names wicked witch (kindness-challenged woman) and ogre (unfortunate genetic anomaly). I certainly don’t remember being tarnished by the terminology, as politically incorrect and disrespectful as it would be considered in 2012, and I consider myself reasonably open-minded and respectful of difference.
Then there were other gems, like Mr. Pink Whistle’s Party (thank the Heavens for Enid Blyton) that are just too wrong not to read.
What book do you remember from your childhood that you would never read to your kids now?
Caveat: I wrote this post with the Mumflu, so don’t blame me if it doesn’t make a single thread of sense.