Summer in Wellington

“Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.”
Roger Miller, Singer, songwriter, & actor
1936-1992

Another Christmas has come and gone, another New Year’s Eve celebration followed it as always, and has also passed and now we are getting back to the everyday life that we know.

All the festivities and fun are great.  It’s always good to catch up with friends and family and what better time than at Christmas and New Year?  But don’t you feel rather flat when the day has passed, the friends have left for home and things are really no different than they were on December 24th?  If like me, you were lucky to receive some gifts and now you have a few more ‘things’ to find places for, you will be adding the fact that you have friends and family who care to your Gratitude List.

After a spell of summer weather, the worm has turned and as I said in my last post, for the past few days we have had really wet weather.  So what to do in the face of this awful weather?  Another new book to read or maybe just look at some of the posts written at this time over my blogging years, in my blog Growing Younger Each Day.

I see that on January 2 in 2013, I was again bemoaning our awful summer weather.  But I also commented on a TV programme I had just watched. In this programme, Rhys-Jones introduced us to Kenneth Grahame, the retiring scholarly man who wrote this story for his somewhat troublesome only child Alistair.  At the time, Grahame was the Secretary of the Bank of England.  He had written some books about children for adults but this was the first (and only) book for children. Do you know this fabulous fable?

The story is set along a riverbank.  In fact, it is subtitled Tales of the Riverbank. We are introduced to the kindly, self-effacing, industrious Mole (Grahame himself perhaps?), Rat, Badger, Otter and of course the incredible, irascible, Mr Toad.  Who hasn’t met a Mr Toad in real life?

These woodland animals are given human characteristics and live an indolent life on the riverbank, often messing about in boats.

But Toad it is who fills the book with his antics and exploits.  He is very sure of himself and he is very conceited.  He sings about himself  “Ho, ho!  I am The Toad, the handsome, the popular, the successful Toad”.  And he thinks that he alone knows anything.   Consider –

“The clever men at Oxford
Know all that there is to be knowed
But they none of them know one half as much
As intelligent Mr Toad”

When Toad sees a shining red motor car he cannot resist it and drives it off eventually being caught and being sent to prison –

“The motor-car went Poop-poop-poop
As it raced along the road.
Who was it steered it into a pond?
Ingenious Mr Toad!”

The book was originally published in 1908 and  my copy of the book is 55 65 years old, well read, well-thumbed but still securely bound in spite of that.

Quite late in life, by then considered a confirmed bachelor,  Grahame married the shy and retiring, scatty and whimsical Elspeth Thomson.  They had only one child, a boy named Alastair (whose nickname was “Mouse”).  Unfortunately, he was born blind in one eye and plagued by health problems throughout his short life.  It was for this child that the book was written.

So then I was glad for a cold, January evening that allowed me to find this programme on the TV.  I thank Rhys-Jones for taking us along the riverbank and telling us about Grahame and his strange little family.

And as an aside in 2010 a First Edition of the book was sold by Bonhams in London for 32,400 GBP

JB Wellington, NZ
January 8, 2023

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5 thoughts on “Summer in Wellington”

  1. What an interesting story, Judith! I know the story may still be available in book form, however what about the TV version? I tried to look it up, but could not find it.

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