Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Mr Pink-Whistle Interferes

Enid Blyton. Child-hating crone endlessly recycling a bunch of outdated prejudices into twee little stories about middle-class children who encounter "fairy folk", or world's most renowned children's author? Who can say? Personally I find her hilarious. As an avid collector of children's books, I own several volumes of her saccharine, Struwwelpeter-esque works. And I can tell you that they all fall into one of the following categories:
1. Intrepid group of children solve dangerous mysteries untrammelled by adult interference, or for that matter, care of any description, such as the Famous Five. (NB: one character usually called after a euphemism for the pudenda. Why she just didn't call one of them Twat or Chuff is beyond me.)
2. Child/children meet some form of mythical fairy/brownie/goblin/pixie, a la Wishing Chair. If pixie, usually called Peronel or Chinky, Ms Blyton clearly never having met anyone Chinese.
3. Toys that come to life, racially abuse each other and break the Highway Code in hideous primary-coloured cars. (Noddy. 'Nuff said.)
4. Weird little men who make the same mistake in every single story and are belaboured for this by a middle-aged dominatrix with whom they unaccountably reside. (Misters Twiddle and Meddle.)
5. School stories starring hockey-playing, team-spirited Headmistresses Of The Future who work hard, play hard and bitch up Mam'zelle at every possible opportunity.
6. Mr Pink-Whistle.

Now M. le Pink-Whistle is actually really a sub-section of 2, as he is "half a brownie, and goes around putting wrong things right" but he is so truly petrifying that he deserves a category all to himself. Translated into real terms, what this means is: he stalks children, who don't seem in the least amused or frightened by his frankly terrifying sex-shop-generated name, in order to interfere in their affairs. In order to right the wrongs of their childish world, this creepsome halfling sees fit to make himself invisible, a skill which has two excellent benefits. One, it safeguards him from possible pursuit by local vigilantes, should they see him approaching yet another small girl sweetly smiling as she swings on her garden gate. Two, it enables him to hide in the bedrooms of teenaged bully boys and frighten them out of their wits. Thank goodness nasty little Harry or Len is usually only playing marbles when Mr P-W's voice starts booming out of thin air, confronting them with their evil deeds of doll-nicking and pushing over of smaller children. No doubt he keeps quiet after four o'clock bread and butter in the hope of seeing them get up to some furtive teenaged pant-probing later on. Mr P-W is no respecter of privacy.
To younger children, and especially small girls for whom we are informed he has an especial fondness, Mr P-W is more kindly. He frequently brings them extravagant presents or invites them to a tea party otherwise attended by other brownies and rabbits, as well as his talking cat-housekeeper, the imaginatively named Sooty. Usually this happens after the small girl in question has contracted an ill-timed case of the pox, preventing her from attending a much-anticipated social event. This happens so regularly in the various books that I am forced to only one conclusion. Mr P-W deliberately infects these children with virulent and deadly bugs solely in order to sabotage their chances of a social life and make them dependent upon him for social interaction.
Either that, or Ms Blyton started getting lazy and recycling her stories. And she wouldn't do that...would she?


  1. What about that one with the two pixes who steal toffee and get hickups in Enid Blyton's Bedtime Stories. No children in that one?

  2. Ah, they're broad categories - she does have a few which are set entirely in the toy/fairy world as well. Including the one about the golly who paints himself white in order to be liked by the other toys. Now THAT is kind of horrifying.

  3. I know you wrote this 2 years ago, but I came across your post when I had a WTF moment when my daughter started reading the book. Your post is wonderful, but it could only be improved by the cover on the edition my daughter is reading - http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151235687491443&set=a.10150423437586443.354888.622881442&type=1&theater

  4. Fantastic analysis. She is not so innocent - in the same way as many children's films have to include an element of adult interest....

    I particularly like reading Mr Pinkwhistle to my children so he has a Ray Winstone voice. But given more recent events and revelations he may now adopt a Jimmy Savile tone. Let's face it, he "fixes things" and sneaks into bedrooms, unseen and presents himself at the foot of the sick bed where he 'entertains' children with gifts and performances. My particular favourite is when he "comes across" (sorry!) a small boy crying because he cannot attend Galliano's circus. PW instruct the boy to open his legs where he announces, 'here is the ring' and puts on a show. Of course, the boy must not tell his mother of the events when she returns from having abandoned him home alone to go shopping. He of course makes himself "invisible" because if the world were to find what he is up to, Pinkwhistle may come to blows.

  5. I know this is an old post but this article is interesting re childhood reads and their impact/importance. https://aeon.co/essays/what-favourite-childhood-books-reveal-about-the-psyche?