Sunday, July 17, 2005


Originally uploaded by jamesandthebluecat.
Back to the British Museum, to do more spurious 'research' (actually just ignoring the signs underneath exhibits telling me what they are, and instead imagining what they could be). I think technically this is a Hentakoi, but to me it looks rather more like a Moomin. I never read the Moomin books as a child, and reading now has been one of the great delights of putting together the Cabinet book. They really are very strange, and incredibly moving, and seem like something written to please absolutely no-one but Tove Jansson herself - and as a natural consequence have become greatly-loved the world over, although I don't think they've ever quite taken off in the States.

DVD commentary was most fun - although at the start I did an excellent impression of a pompous arse, so thank god Rob was there.

ME: (over footage of surgery) I used to work in a hospital of course, and they're very much like that.
*Slight pause*
ROB: (not altogether unkindly) People wearing green, holding scalpels, that sort of thing?
ME: Um, yes.

Managed to correctly attribute the 'smoking warnings' scene to my The Mighty Evans rather than (as has been conjectured elsewhere on the internet) Bill Hicks, so that was satisfying. Also I got to give GW Richard full credit for the 'does my coat swish with stylish elan' line, which I think was important. And I was rude about actors, but they started it. Still no idea when it's coming out though.

Will continue to be AFK (and I was delighted the acronym baton was picked up with such aplomb) for a couple of days, as am dogsitting at parents house, while they go to Buckingham Palace for a garden party, to which by an astonishing coincidence The Mighty Evans will also be going. I can only assume that the Queen is holding a meeting about me. And about time too, quite frankly.


Steve Dix said...

My first Moomin book was "Moominland Midwinter" when I was 7. It was an extremely haunting book, and it took me several reads to get through it, mainly because at the time the Groke evoked such absolute terror, as did Sorry-oo's encounter with the wolves.

It says something of the books that I can remember such specifics over 30 years later.

I think the TV series wasn't up to much, though, totally failing to catch the spookyness inherent in the books.

lauren said...

the moomins tv show was very much spooky - i mean, naked white...things, running around in a frankly disturbing manner. and how old was young moomin to go having a girlfriend? and didn't they have some kind of visitor to the house, a female figure? see, it scared me so bad, i'd blocked out the memories until now. i'll dream bad dreams about them tonight now, and it's all your fault

Steve Dix said...

Don't go near the books then, you'll end up in the nut-hutch.

I think the visitor was the Filly-Jonk.

james henry said...

Whereas I think it might be the Groke - a huge round figure with sad eyes who never speaks, and freezes everything she touches. Personification of Scandinavian angst there, and one of the best characters. There's a monster in one of AS Byatt's short stories (can't remember which off the top of my head, but it's in the Little Black Book) which reminds me very strongly of the Groke.

entropy said...

If it wasn't the female visitor herself that was scary, it could be Little My (yes I know she lived with them really). Wasn't sure what to make of her as a littl'un - all that tantrum-throwing. Hattifatteners and the Hobgoblin (scary, scary man in a top hat) had me hiding behind the sofa.

James, the link to the BMJ piece didn't seem to work (but found it on G'gle just the same).

Steve Dix said...

Little My always struck me as a Psycho.

The Hobgoblin I didn't really find frightening, TBH.

The bit I remember as extremely frightening at the time was when they moved to a lighthouse, and the groke followed them. The forest on the island started moving to get away from being frozen by the Groke.

james henry said...

Just read that one last week - very good. The one after is the saddest kids book ever (Moominland in November?) - in fact I'm not sure these last two are kid's books at all. Very strange, and slow, with that huge emotional heft that comes from simple but very carefully used language.

lauren said...

look at you, the adults' glowing literary criticisms that respect the books on so many levels, but i can't get past how frankly worrying the cartoons were, and how much the shoutiness of little my annoyed me

Matt said...

I seem to be doing the rounds begging for books: can I borrow some of the moomins books at some point?
Never read them, although I know Becca rates them as among her favourites.

Perhaps they can be read as a kind of 'bergman-lite'. I'll just pretend everything is black and white and I'm playing chess on the rocks.

or something.

Steve Dix said...

I never read "Moominland in November" : what happens?

I read them in the 70's in the puffin editions : ISTR hearing there were considerably more books than were translated into English.

I know that there used to be a Moomin cartoon strip, drawn by Tove Jansson herself, and syndicated.

strangeumbrella said...

I know very little about Moomins. I always thought they looked rather odd though.
Which episode(s) did you get to commentate on?

I really like the word aplomb.

entropy said...

There were at least two books that were never translated according to this site
And a comprehensive list of characters here

belladona said...

Moominland Midwinter! Aw! All that existential angst. Very odd sort of book to be for children.
Yes, english is my first language.

Elfgirl said...

I was obsessed with the Moomin books when I was little! I know there was a particular one that made me cry quite a lot. Damn, I'm going to have to find copies of those now, aren't I? *goes all nostalgic*