I’ve got too much going on.
Way too much.
I blame the invention of Page Tabs or whatever those things are called, which let you have dozens of internet pages open at once. My curser is flicking between them like a fly on speed.
Right now I have three different university websites open: two Discussion Board’s and a lecture that I keep pausing to do other stuff. I have four WordPress pages open: two with draft posts for this blog, one on the homepage of my other blog, and one open onto the Reader. I’m trying desperately to catch up on over a week of missed posts. I also have my email open, an online thesaurus open, a website of local movie times…and ok, I’ll admit it, Facebook is open too. Bloody Facebook.
Every now and again I get completely frustrated and close everything.
‘Do you want to close all tabs or just the current tab?’ CLOSE ALL TABS, DAMMIT!
Ahh, that’s better. Now, let’s do one thing at a time. Ten minutes later, I’m back to those itty bitty tabs that let you squish twenty open pages onto one screen.
Anyway. I am currently working on three separate review posts for this blog, because I am too distracted to follow and finish just one. Maybe I have adult ADHD? Or maybe I should stop pounding extra large unsweetened black coffees. That could be it. It also doesn’t help that I am reviewing a fantastic yet highly un-motivating book by Tom Hodgkinson, How to be Idle. I have decided to leave that review for the weekend, simply because of the idleness inducing factor that you, my readers, do not need in your lives mid-week. You’re welcome.
So after another of my little internet related tantrums, during which I closed every page without saving (which I later regretted), I ventured outside to soak up the requisite ten minutes of sunshine you need each day. And while I sat there, picking freshly grown sweet peas off my gorgeous plants and enjoying the unfamiliar pleasure of warm sun on my face, I thought, stuff it. I’m over it today.
I’m not going to finish polishing off my humour sketches for Writing Humour. I’m not going to work on my PowerPoint presentation for Engaging in the Humanities. I’m not going to watch the rest of the lecture for Sociology, and I’m not going to finish the reviews I’m currently writing. It can all well and truly go and hang out in the ‘Some Other Time’ pile.
Instead, I am going to have a huge cup of calm down, while simultaneously shaking this blog up. I am going to review a wonderful book. A truly outstanding book. A book which has impacted the lives of millions of people worldwide. A book which I first read roughly twenty-one years ago, but which I can still conjure up as though I read it yesterday.
My friends, I am talking about Enid Blyton’s The Enchanted Wood.
Is there a greater book out there. Rhetorical. No way. It has everything, fantasy; emotion; adventure; suspense; comedy; relatable characters and The Three Bears. I read it again a few months ago for the first time in fifteen years, and what struck me was how vividly I remembered it. It felt like coming home, entering that familiar forest with the trees that whisper secrets. There is something so real, so believable, in the magic that Blyton captures on the page. I recall a passionately in-depth discussion I had with some friends not long ago, regarding our favourite land at the top of the tree. Unsurprisingly, the Land of Take What You Want was a popular choice.
‘It’s a marvellous land,’ he said. ‘You are allowed to wander all over it and take whatever you want for yourselves without paying a penny. Everyone goes there if they can.’
Naturally, Blyton keeps the story grounded in enough morality and good behaviour that the fantasy doesn’t become too much. These lovely children, given access to everything they could possibly desire, choose hens, a spade and a goat. All practical things to help their struggling parents. Probably not an overriding quality found in many children of this generation…
Another thing that struck me was Blyton’s use of language. It is adorably quaint, full of words and phrases that would be considered most old-fashioned by today’s literary standards.
‘Good gracious!’ she said. ‘It’s growing horse chestnuts just here! What a very peculiar tree!’
‘This is a most interesting and exciting tree,’ said Bessie, finishing her cake. ‘Jo, I think we ought to go now, or we’ll never get to the top.’
This entire book is a testament to Blyton’s wonderful imagination. The story is extremely well thought out, each individual character and scenario in the book work closely together to create this believable yet fantastical Enchanted Wood. Characters which appear only briefly at the beginning reappear at the end as an integral part of the story, such as Mr Whiskers and his troupe of brownies. The whispering of the trees, first noticed by Bessie on the fourth page, turns out to have major significance later on. The children discover the trees are actually talking, and the trees help them to defeat the Red Goblins. This level of detail and forward planning is rarely evident in what is generally considered to be children’s literature.
Blyton also brings to life well-known nursery rhyme characters. Every child can quote (to the point of boredom) the story of Goldilocks and The Three Bears. Blyton takes us beyond the nursery rhyme, letting us in on the fact that Goldilocks now lives with The Three Bears, as part of their family.
‘Does she always live with you now?’
‘Always,’ said the father bear…’she just chooses any of our beds, you know, and we cuddle up together then. But she likes the baby bear’s bed best, because it’s so soft and warm.’
‘She did in the story,’ said Fanny.
‘What story?’ asked the mother bear.
‘Well – the story of the three bears,’ said Fanny.
‘Never heard of it,’ said the three bears.
Despite the fact that this book is written for children it was no hard task picking it up again. I was worried that it would come across as simplistic and a little boring, but nothing could be further from the truth. It is that return to the blissful days of childhood that make this such an enchanting (sorry) read, it reminds me of a time when life was simpler and ‘computers’ were something that we heard about on the news. Except no one expected us to watch the news, so we read Enid Blyton instead.
Anyway, I have meandered down the garden path and up the Faraway Tree long enough. I suppose it’s time to head back to the real world, and leave the magic of Moon-Face and Silky, talking dolls and honey filled Pop Biscuits behind.
But if you ever need a break from the reality of our harsh daily grind, I hope you will grab yourself a copy of The Enchanted Tree, some cookies and a glass of milk (or wine) and sink back into that wonderful world that Enid Blyton created so long ago.
Turn off the computer.
You will be glad you did.