‘The Enchanted Wood’ Re-Framed

On my way home today I stopped in a bookshop, and after being bored by the synopsis on the back cover of a book about female chauvinist pigs, turned toward the children’s books on a side wall.

Ahh, ‘The Enchanted Wood’! Wouldn’t that be a lovely book to give my tiny niece for Xmas.  Memories of childhood imaginings about Joe, Bessie, and Fannie climbing the Faraway Tree and meeting Moonface; hot-cold goodies; and exploring the land at the top of the tree.  I loved this when I was a kid out in the bush, and one sunny day lamented that I wanted to have adventures like Joe, Bessie, and Fanny, considering my own life unadventurous.  Although I doubt that Joe and co. ever had to concern themselves with avoiding snakes, sunburn, and dehydration on bush walks, or helped break in neurotic ponies, or were solo driving at seven.

Harmless storytelling to inspire the imagination of another generation.  Certainly, I became aware many years ago that some of Enid Blyton’s storybook characters were racially-offensive confections compounding stereotypes, well out of place in a more culturally-aware society. Fair enough if these had changed.

Surely there wasn’t anything offensive in ‘The Enchanted Wood’.

But lo, there it was on the back cover:  “Joe, Bessie, and Frannie.”  FRANNIE?  FRANNIE?? FRANNIE???

What numpty, politically-correct publishing prat changed Fanny’s name to that of a burnt-out middle-aged bank teller with frigging corns and a nylon blouse?

I hot-footed it out of there.

What the hell else has changed?  Let me guess:

  1. Joe, Bessie, and Frannie’s helicopter mother follows them everywhere and won’t let them climb trees.
  2. Joe, Bessie, and Frannie’s famed bottle of milk and sandwiches stuffed into a bag, is now a bottle of organic soy milk with individual cups and enviro-killing wet wipes and gluten-free, nut-free in an ostentatious bento box-style Disney-licenced plastic lunch box of wanker proportions.
  3. Joe, Bessie, and Frannie aren’t allowed to touch the tree in case they get bark-poisoning just from looking at it.
  4. Joe, Bessie, and Frannie never find out what is up the Faraway Tree, and never have any adventures because their pathetic helicopter mother is too freaked out to let them climb it.
  5. Joe, Bessie, and Frannie miss out on eating Moonface’s hot-cold goodies, because there’s no proof that they are paleo-inspired and come out of a twee enviro-killing crunchy plastic bag that’s headed straight for land-fill.  Also, Moonface may turn out out to be a tree-hugging creep.
  6. Joe, Bessie, and Frannie are forced to ‘curate’ a photo essay of their day out for their mummy blogger’s Instagram account, which will be full of over-exposed ‘whimsical’ shots of them in twee designer clothes that are not designed for playing in outdoors.

Re-framing literary narratives within the confines of a contemporary social narrative has its merits, but at some point, revisionism egregriously assumes an -atriarchal[sic] role in a reader’s critical thinking that sucks some of the enchantment out of storytelling.

c. Kylie J. Lawrence 2017







Ah wooood live 500 years

Ah wooood live 500 years.  I think.  With all apologies to… not Nirvana, but The Proclaimers, the question is, would you?

Scientist Jonathan Weiner has come up with some devilish-in-the-detail new information about clocking up 500 years on the mortal coil instead of three score and ten (if one is that lucky).  Have a flick through this excerpt from his book, Long For This World:
However,  I think the man with the U.S.S.N. (no, not an ISBN, although he’d have one of those now, I mean, the Unfortunate Sausage-Sounding Name) has missed a few key perks of racking up five centuries instead of the better part of one:

1. More Time to Get Stuff Done.  Subcategories: More Time for Bitching and Moaning About Getting Stuff Done, More Time to Wonder Why Stuff Hasn’t Been Done Yet and look for the Culprit Who Didn’t Get Stuff Done.
2. Extended Warranties – a tinsy bit more exxy, but better value for money long term.
3. ‘It’s a wardrobe classic, I’ll have it for years.’  You want to hope it lasts for years, you silly cow. 
4. More time for procrastination.  Brilliant.
5. Students would be at school until they’re 35 – great for parental types keeping an eye on their homework.
6. Longer sleep-ins.  Why not?
7. Government infrastructure such as road works would take five times as long to complete.  It already does, so this only gives the buggers an excuse.
8. Lunch breaks all over the world would be longer than a Spanish siesta.  So let’s all work from home then.
9. It would take 5 times as long to vote fools out of government.   And waste five times as much tax payers’ money on golden handshakes when the pollies retire.
10.Insomniacs would probably go extremely nuts.
11. Best of all… A quickie would take the best part of an hour and involve foreplay.

Room For Improvement: En suite Bathrooms Without Doors.

En suite Bathrooms Without Doors:

Keeping a Lid on It.

(Sir) Thomas Crapper (1836-1910) had it right when he is reputed to have sagely opined, “The human doth like to shite in peace.  Thus my tricksy little invention, the thunderbox.”

This Lavatorial Report begins with an innocuous visit to a charity raffle display home in the crappy end of a seemingly affluent suburb, and passes through  questions about how much the middle class love to share things that the rest of us could give less of a shit about. 

Some time last year, after visiting a charity raffle home display in Paddington, my friend and I decided to snoop in some of the houses for sale nearby.  At one, I was shocked to discover a curious en suite arrangement abutting the mistress (none of this master business, this is aroomofherown territory!) bedroom.  The shower had a door, but the lavatory and wash basin remained sans door, only a sliver of wall retaining any facade of privacy between whomsoever should occupy the dunny, and whomsoever should be in repose in the adjacent bedroom.  I went away in shock, and not just because I could – if I won Lotto – buy at least three houses out in Windsor for the price of one cute house with rude bathroom arrangements in snooty Paddington.

Recently I had the misfortune to drag out of the community paper recycling bin, a major newspaper weekend supplement, which shall remain nameless, although no less devoted to renovation wars on the home front.  Page after page of gorgeous photographs of the latest in luxury bathroom accessories and fittings.  Gone, for example, are the square school cleaner mop bucket troughs of recent stylish years, now one must lash out on impossibly flat, environmentally friendly wash basins that one would be hard pressed to smash a pair of grotty stockings through with a rock and a cake of Sard Wonder Soap, much less a decent splash.

What struck me most of all, being that a bolt of lightning was out of the question, despite Sydney’s recent Will I-Won’t I weather, is the latest trend in day spa style bathrooms.  Apparently, now that the economy has gone to the dogs, many of us would prefer to stay home and build fabulous hotel-at-home experiences – the ones where you play the guest… oh, and the cook and chambermaid too.  I used to be a chambermaid, on at least two continents, and I never saw a hotel en suite without a door.  Maybe I should have worked somewhere more luxurious than 3 and a half stars, but a girl cannot have everything, not in the E.S.M. (Exactly Seventeen Minutes) one is allotted to clean a room.  In this day and age, when it comes to en suites, she can forget about walls too.

What has the world come to?  Admittedly I come from a rural background, so am well-trained in the drop ’em anywhere and wash your hands in dirt scenario, and there was never a vehicle on the property without half a dusty, squashed bog roll in the glove box, behind the bullets and bull rings.  But after reading a whole weekend newspaper supplement devoted to bringing more shit into ones life, I worry.   In some parts of the world, people’s home arrangements are such that they may have next to no choice about where they place their ablutions facilities, but for those of you who do, think again.

En suites without doors are home-wrecking devices.  Why pay through the nose for something ON the nose?  Let’s face it, who needs the stench of uric acid and last night’s asparagus pee wafting out into the love nest?  Who needs to listen to the unattractive bodily functions of ones nearest and dearest?  Some people of course find this intoxicating whilst others would fain do a commando roll out into the street in their UGG boots and nightie to get away from it. 

When the S.T.M.T.O.T.H (Sensitive Too Much Time on Their Hands) halves of D.C.s (Developing Couples) utter those terrifiying L.B.B. (Love Bubble-Bursting) words,  “I want to share more,” there is a twenty in ten chance that they mean sharing ideas, activities (such as more shagging), and feelings – not the repulsive sound of twenty elephants thundering out of their beloved’s bottom in a highly accoustically-enhanced space.  And if you are on the verge of becoming a couple with a person of the D.E.S.P. (Doorless En Suite Persuasion), and sharing a sleep-over or two, the sort of privations experienced by a lack of a barrier across the sound and olfactory landscape could be a deal-breaker.  On the sliding scale of horrible things, it’s either side of making a very private person so bound up with anxiety that by the time they go home, they are stuck between a rock and a hard place.  Certainly, a cup of hot water may asist the transition of one, but what of the other? 

For a very private person, the thought of more dirty weekends away with their beloved and their beloved’s ensuite bathroom takes on a whole new meaning or layer of fear.  Instead of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, a weekend without walls becomes Earplugs and Constipation in Epping.  Not quite the same ring to it, is there?  Perhaps I should set the story in Beecroft.  Or Boggabri.  If a person can barely endure the tubular bells of one visit to the outhouse, what makes one think they can endure a lifetime of constant connubial bliss – er, blizzards?

Virginia Woolf clearly took the Crappian line, when, in 1929, whilst everyone was worried about the stockmarket crash, she looked instead to home and hearth, muttering those famous words, “…a woman must have… a room of her own.”  Clearly, a Crapper ought to have one as well.

Forget using the Rudd stimulus to stimulate the Australian economy.  Buy a damned door and stimulate your relationship!