The Life and Times of a busy bookseller, her husband and Gordon setter dogs in North Norfolk.

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Born In Essex, UK.
School in Luton.
College - Sussex.
Worked in Cambs.
Now Living in Norfolk.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee/The Economy - a Point of View

I don't usually write about things like this on the blog, but this is something that has been bothering me and getting under my skin every time I hear it on the news, so I reckon it is time to express myself.  If anyone else would like to comment - and I know by looking at the statistics that there are quite a few of you out there who dip into my blog from time to time, do feel free to comment - all views accepted, politely of course.

I am not a huge royalist, but not an objector either, and feel that celebrating the jubilee at this time, mainly as a way of cheering up a largely 'down in the dumps' country, due to the economic recession etc, is not a bad idea. Consequently I, like many people around the country, am involved in a jubilee event in the small Norfolk village I live in. As a village we are just having some races for the children, a village barbeque, and a lighting of the beacon at our allotted time.  Nothing earth shattering, but what should be a pleasant get together, and something to enhance the community spirit.  All around the land similar events will be taking place in towns & villages and hopefully a pleasant time will be had by all.  However we keep hearing on the news that the price we have to pay for this event is that, because we are having the day off work to celebrate, our country will 'obviously' stay in recession for another quarter.

We are having another day off work. an extra bank holiday, in an advanced Western democracy, that has one of the fewest public holidays in the Western world, and this 1 extra day is going to keep us in recession.  Now I know that we are in a very delicate situation at the moment, but what about the pluses to the economy that that politicians & economists fail to mention.  As I see it  the balance sheet looks a bit like this.
On the negative side - yes, the economy is going to lose a days output.  This is a week, that the schools close, and many people take off anyway, and go away with their children, so some people would have taken the Tuesday off already, but yes, everyone is getting an extra days bank holiday. One day less output.

On the plus side.

There is a micro economy going on specifically for the Queens Jubilee.

A whole mass industry in paper, red white and blue cups, saucers, plates and the like for use at all the street parties. Likewise paper table cloths, plastic cutlery, red white & blue balloons, paper hats. All the pound shops are full of them. Even if not made in this country, our shops are selling them. Our supermarkets are full of produce that they are advertising for street parties. I am constantly getting flooded with advertisements for street party appropriate goods. Musicians and entertainment has been booked up for along time for the parties, as have services such as hog roasts (We found this out to our cost, when we were too late to books them). Beacon Makers must be quids in too!

Red, white and blue flower displays are being planted, plastic medals are being manufactures in their thousand, there is a jubilee catalogue of things that can be bought for the occasion, mugs are being produced and sold by the hundred, the list is endless.

Of course there will also be the visitors who come to the country just to see what all the fuss is about, because, as we all know, if there is one thing the British can do is put on a good show when it comes to pageantry.

I am pleased that there is a plus side for the economy, it will do it good to have a bit of stimulation, and I hope it gives it a bit of a push in the direction it needs - but what I will resent, is that when the next lot of figures are announced, and if the country is still in recession, the politicians look at us gloomily, and tell us it is all because we had that extra day off and enjoyed ourselves when I am very sure it was not!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

The Enid Blyton Society Day May 12th 2012

May the 12th saw the return of the usually annual Enid Blyton Day run by The Enid Blyton Society at the Loddon Hall in Twyford near Reading, a day that was sorely missed by the members last year.

As usual the day was well attended, with a room full of members present to peruse the the numerous book stands, which included ourselves,  with lots of Enid Blyton goodies to sell, and to listen to the various speakers who were there to deliver interesting talks.  There was also the usual scrumptious snacks on offer to tempt the appetite - including 'Anne's' cherry buns and 'Famous Five Clotted Cream Teas'.


The first speaker was Sarah  Lawrence. Sarah is the Collection Director at Seven Stories in Newcastle.    I am ashamed to say I didn't even know of Seven Stories existence, although how I had missed out on it I have no idea, but for those like me who didn't know, Seven Stories is the national home of children's books in Britain.   See

Seven Stories is a registered charity that celebrates the art of children's books, their place in our childhood and in our culture. Sarah is largely involved in assembling original manuscripts and artwork from 'modern'   British children's authors and illustrators, to keep a record of how children's books have evolved.    From this exhibitions, events and learning programmes are made, and the exhibitions are both at Newcastle, and some now go on tour around Britain.   Exhibitions currently on show are 'A squash and a Squeeze' sharing stories with Julia Donaldson' and 'Daydreams and Diaries : the stories of Jacqueline Wilson'.  After telling us about the nail biting auction where they managed to acquire some important parts of the Enid Blyton archive, Sarah told us that Seven Stories are planning a major Blyton exhibition for next year.  I hope to visit Seven Stories in the not too distant future.

Following this talk, Jon Appleton, the editorial director (fiction) at Hodder Children's Books, gave us a short update on the Blyton publishing situation. Hachette Children's Book, Hodder's parent company have recently bought the Enid Blyton Estate (apart from Noddy) from Chorion.  There seemed to be general nods of approval from the audience!

Lunch time followed alongside book browsing/buying/selling and we chatted to some of our customers old & new.  It was great to see young enthusiasts spending their pocket money on paperbacks with relish. I am always pleased to see younger children setting out on the adventure of reading - I suppose I remember myself at that age, with all that pleasure in store. (And there is the bit of primary school teacher in me that will always be there!)

At 2.15 Georgina Hargreaves took to the floor. I had no idea what to expect, but this self deprecating and humorous lady was a real treat to listen to.  According to her, she got the job of illustrating Enid Blyton books because she happened to be lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time when one of the Johnstone twins unfortunately died.  She did indeed take over the deluxe Dean editions after the Grahame Johnstone Twins, but I don't think she has any idea of how difficult they are to get hold of now, because they are in such demand! She told us mischievously of the various characters she puts into her pictures (no I'm not telling) but she puts herself in as a fairy occasionally. She kept referring to herself, not as an artist, but just 'a mum', although she did appreciate that she earned quite a decent amount from illustrating the deluxe books for the Dean Blyton editions, and said that she did enjoy working with Enid Blyton. She told us she was allowed complete freedom in designing the deluxe editions, which looking at their popularity and pleasing results, was just as well. It was a very entertaining session.

The last session came after another tea break and book browse, and was from Pam Ally, who retired from Chorion last year, having worked as an archivist for the Enid Blyton collection for 30 years - initially for Darrell Walters.  This was most interesting, and took us through the changes and times of publishing.  For much of the time her job was, along with another couple of people,was collecting & archiving as much Enid Blyton works as they could, and I must admit to feeling a touch of envy at hearing just what her job had entailed for some years - especially when she told us about replying to the childrens letters when they wrote in to the famous Five Club, and the telephone calls they received from one very persistent & entertaining Famous Five young club member in Northern Ireland  It all sounded a great deal of fun.  However the fun obviously ran out after a few office moves, and when several take overs later they found themselves working for a boss less interested in the archives, and the Famous five Club and the whole atmosphere changed. I am sure she is now pleased to have retired, and she too, seems pleased that Hodder will be taking the Enid Blyton estate forward.

After this, for us it was a last quick chat, then a pack up of the books and off in our various directions. The sun had been shining all day.  We were staying with relatives, so only had 40 miles to travel rather than going all the way back to Norfolk - and were welcomed back by a 4 year old - who hopefully will both get to visit Seven Stories and enjoy the world of Enid Blyton one day soon - although currently absorbed by Scooby Doo, Firefighter Penny and still has a softspot for Peppa Pig!



Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Maurice Sendak 1928 - 2012

Maurice Sendak's wonderful illustrations probably came to my attention much the same time as he caught the eye of many other people of my era - when he had that wonderful book published - 'Where the wild things Are'.   He had in fact though already been illustrating books for some time before this.

Maurice Sendak was born Maurice Bernard Sendak in New York in 1928. He studied at Lafayette High School, subsequently working as a window dresser and enjoying his first major success as an illustrator with Ruth Krauss's 'A Hole to Dig' in 1952. He illustrated more than 80 children's books by other authors before he wrote one himself. In 1956, he published his first book without outside help, Kenny's Window. However it was his book Where the Wild things are, published in America in 1963, and the UK in 1964, that after a controversial beginning it eventually brought him literary acclaim, and he was awarded the Caldecott medal.

Maurice Sendak was reported to have died today from complications after a recent stroke. He brought a great deal of pleasure to children through his illustrations & books. Therefore he made a difference, something we would all like to do, but not many of us achieve it.

If I'm not careful my blog is going to turn into a collection of author and illustrator's obituaries. Thus after this I will make sure I get something else written quickly before someone else has the chance to die on me!