Interestingly after Reading Monk mentioned Enid Blyton, I went to my private blog (yeah, my private journal and found this entry which is posted before I begin a book blog) and found this entry. Here’s my childhood reading experience from my blog entry, back to its rightful place in my book blog.
December 28, 2008
At first, I thought my decision to be here in UK was a conscious choice of continuing a journey of education which started off with a British Chartered Accountancy. On hindsight, perhaps the University of London, Economics degree would have served me better for a career in the bank, but with limited financial means, I really don’t know any better (I don’t know who feed me with the idea that accountancy provides wider career options, and therefore is preferred). I think the colonial influence has been the invisible hands which are in action well before I was born.
My father is Chinese-educated, and my mother is English educated. Not only is she English educated but she is taught by the teachers and nuns of the St. Nicholas Convent, which basically means the language used in school are in English (unlike now, Malay) and English Literature is a subject taught in school. She knows the history of Britain and the stories behind the monarchs, exalted the golden era of Elizabethen and Victorian. The year I was born, my mother’s only sister had decided to go abroad to UK to do nursing, and had since stay in Cambridge until today. Both of them took pride in their affiliation with British education.
I learnt my nursery rhymes in English, Jack and Jill, Humpty-Dumpty, London bridge, Sing a song of six pence, Baa Baa Black sheeps etc., before I ever learnt a children song in Mandarin, not until I was 7 in primary school.
The books that I grew up with incidentally are all British, before the current influx of American books and comics arrive in the local market. My early Enid Blyton books are hand-me-downs from my youngest Aunty Carol. I inherited her books, and subsequently read a lot from my school library. Among my favourites are The Malory Towers series, The Naughtiest Girl series, Amelia Jane series with the same edition as shown in the picture. Others include The Three Golliwogs, The Wishing Chair, The Famous Five series, The Secret Seven series.
Not only that, I either inherit or bought new annuals of Beano and Dandy, with Denice the Menace as my favourite cartoon character. Surprise, surprise, it also has British genealogy, a British comics published weekly since 1938.
I couldn’t quite get over one incident happened when I was 7 in Primary One. My mom bought me both Beano and Dandy Annuals 1980, including two-part comic of Tintin adventure in Black Island, translated in the Malay Language. The next day I took it to school hoping to show my friends, and I left school without the plastic bag containing all my new books. I came back to school with my father that very evening to look around my classroom and the spot I waited for my school bus. But my bag with my new books are gone. Well long gone. Until today, I never get over the loss of a bag full of my favourite comics and annuals. 😦
So it is with nostalgia that I read The Economist December 2008 bumper Issue and came across a write-up about Tintin, soon to be adapted in big screen in 2010 by Steven Spielberg. Tintin happened to be Belgian and was published originally in French in 1930. Tintin was definitely an influence from my cousin who has full collection of Tintin comics in his house. Remembering the day I lost Black Island, 30 years ago, since I wanted to buy the Excel how-to book anyway, I looked around Amazon.co.uk and found a series of 3-in-1 volumes of Tintin adventure including Black Island. I generally go for comics which have clean line and cute characters, which also explains my adverse reaction to the Marvel Comics (I think I may have one or two copies of Marvel comics, Superman and the Hulk I think, and basically know all of the superheroes that existed in the Marvel comic world, but I am not a great fan). The fact that Enid Blyton books include cute cartoon characters appeals to me even more.
Soon I grew out of Enid Blyton and finally passed them on to Aunty Carol’s sons, who amazingly learnt to read Treasure Island at the age of 4. Subsequent growing up years was filled with American romance books (Sweet Valley High etc.) and TV programmes. It is quite a blur really, I don’t remember what I read in my later teens up till the point I started working!
My early movie influence are King Kong, Star Wars, Indiana Jones. But what really been my constant musical companion was the songs from movie The Sound of Music. I played it every single day when I was 7 or 8. I learnt all the lyrics of the songs. Several years later I was hooked on Mary Poppins. At my babysitter’s, Mary Poppins was played on TV and VCR every single day, demanded by my babysitter’s ward. He would howl unless his request is met. Is there any accident that Julie Andrews and the movie production is British?
In my 20s, my mother at many instances suggested I should go to UK since I had an aunt there, it would be easier. I wasn’t interested, I was happy where I am. I suppose by then the preference to pursue a British education had been sealed within my subconscious mind.
There is no accident in life, they say. Everything we do in hindsight prepares us for the present moment. As for now, I can’t wait to receive my Tintin adventure comics, after 30 years had lapsed.
p/s: Tintin is a divergence, not part of my British influence. Although the original creator Herge is more than happy to allow the misconception of Tintin being a British hero to perpetuate.