Airbrushing history

September 23, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

Seven Stories



Hazel Speed

How interesting to learn that Enid Blyton‘s Famous Five books are to revert to the language and phraseology of their original era due to the fact, apparently, that the attempts made to ‘tweak’ the same here or there has not worked and was proven to be counter-productive – Gosh!

As a child of the 50s/60s I was a great fan of Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven Series and the classic ‘The Boy Next Door‘. I was a bit young for The Famous Five but despite that I could not identify with the format whereas I was almost living the Secret Seven life with many friends who were boys, as climbing trees and making and riding carts utilising old pram wheels was far more exciting than playing with dolls.

However, I had been sad to learn that Enid Blyton’s works had been ‘tweaked’ in the first place and if the great Lady had been alive I doubt any amendments would have been allowed.

As I have not read The Famous Five as such then I cannot remark on the changes either way but I can comment on the never ending fascination in general by various authorities, especially in respect of television who edit a word, a second of drama, or cut out continuity to ‘spare us’ from offence.

History is history. I saw an episode of The Avengers the other day when Mrs Peel was captured and strapped to a ducking plank above a pond. She was ducked in the water a couple of times but someone ‘wishing to spare us’ thought it better to show the character tied to a plank one minute, and bone dry, then the next image she was just shown with wet hair. Not only is that totally ridiculous but it angers me. In the same episode there is a scene where she and others were captured and attached to various ancient forms of ‘restrictive’ devices – I have ‘spared you from the real words but mostly because of the jokes they would infer.

The truth about history in any arena is important to keep, even what was acceptable and popular viewing from former decades as the humour must be kept in context. We have already given up certain British historical aspects to assuage others.

No matter what the subject area we all know when someone is utilising an aspect to give offence or just sharing in the humour of the past.

For old fashioned humour in literature Norman Hunter‘s Professor Branestawm is a classic which cannot be beaten. I do not recall anything in his stories which can be utilised the wrong way as it sticks to generic facts and a more gentler way of life than we have now.

As for The Secret Seven by Enid Blyton however, I somehow doubt the original versions are still available, not that the author used any term which was not ‘of its day’ but someone ‘of this day and age’ would probably seize one aspect or another as being unacceptable. So being British we always concede but in doing so that in itself creates a resentfulness. If something is said in an innocent way then it is evergreen and ever pure, the only fault is in the attitude of the reader. Why should any age apologise for its heritage?

In true synchronistic style I have been privileged to speak to (and exchange correspondence with) the Daughter of Enid Blyton (sadly now Deceased).

It was, therefore also another special moment for myself after I nominated Norman Hunter for an Award which was given to him by This England Magazine. Norman Hunter, in true Professor Branestawm style wrote a letter of thanks to me which was full of deliberate typing errors – glorious!

No airbrush for him!

Norman’s Daughter and I then exchanged correspondence and also spoke on the phone.

Sadly Norman is no longer with us either but both his literature and that of Enid Blyton must live on ‘as written’.

We must never forget that the same authorities who cleanse our spoken or written words can so easily also airbrush our lives and records now.

As individuals all that most of us can leave behind once we have died may very well be the written or spoken word (verbatim by ourselves or adapted by others).

I for one would prefer not to be remembered at all than to be misrepresented or tweaked to suit some future world which cannot accommodate my essence, even historically.









Hazel Speed

Photo (c) Hazel Speed – used by kind permision to Tuck Magazine

Hazel Speed is a Philosopher, Writer, and Artist with various creative projects at differing states of development. Her flaship project is an animation which has produced a film short:

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