Friday, November 20, 2009

Enid Blyton - living with her was no picnic.

Last night I watched a programme recounting the life and times of Enid Blyton. The programme, produced by the BBC with Helena Bonham-Carter in the lead role, was beautifully put together. However, in a funny sort of way, I wish I hadn't seen it. You see, Enid Blyton was a part of my childhood; whilst I never really got into the Famous Five, I loved her school based books, especially The Naughtiest girl in the school series. I also had a friend who must have made present buying for her relatives a doddle as she collected the entire Famous Five then the Secret Seven series. I know my mum grew up adoring the Noddy books. As an adult, I've re-read some of her books and have winced at just how middle class and snobby some of them seem but still, her books hold a place in my heart.

So, there I was last night, half expecting that the details of Enid's life would reveal someone rather snobby  but eccentric and likeable. Talk about illusions being shattered. Enid's parents split up when she was a child. You sensed this would colour her future but I wasn't prepared to find out that she turned out to be a rather hateful figure; all she cared about was writing and her many young fans, she ignored her own children, her family and sent her husband packing (in favour of a married man). She then denied him contact with the children and successfully managed to ruin his career.

In most cases, I'm a great believer in searching out the truth about people but, fascinating as the programme was, it breaks my heart to think that those books that brought happiness to my childhood resulted in the neglect and misery of her own children, not to mention her husband, who, incidentally had commissioned her first book..............

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wot no crime?

I love English language newspapers. They fulfill an important niche for ex-pats, telling us all we need to know about what can, at times, seem like a baffling nation. Writing and researching my articles has given me a fascinating insight into how France and particularly the Dordogne ticks.
However, if I were to have one teensy niggle about the English language national papers, it would be this - they rarely report on crime, particularly violent crime. Now, I'm not suggesting that these monthly papers should become gruesome crime digests but it does frustrate me that almost every ex-pat I speak to believes that France is far safer than Britain; a view gleaned in large part from the English language papers. I think it is easy when you write the news to forget that for many of your readers this is their only source of information. Their readership don't, by and large, watch the French news or read French papers.
Round here, where most of us live in the serene Dordogne countryside, it is pretty crime free but still, and I'm sorry if this bursts your bubble, murders do happen, bodies are found in lakes, petrol stations are robbed and youths do still stab each other.
In fact, whilst most crime does occur in the cities, France has pretty much the same crime figures as other European nations (such as the U.K ) though more women (160) are killed each year by their husbands and violent robberies in the cities are rising fast..............