I’ve written before about Elisabeth Beresford and her Wombles but no alphabetical list of my favourite characters from children’s literature would be complete without these early eco-warriors from London’s Wimbledon Common.
Has anyone ever been womble-searching? It’s on my list of things to do (that and find Narnia in Hampstead Heath.) A quick look at the Wimbledon Common website and it seems I’m not the only one who harbours hopes of finding a womble – they currently have an advert saying ‘Wombles needed!’ – but this is a cunningly worded appeal for folk to help collect litter.
Why did I like wombles so much? They are very much Londoners – the books reference places such as Hyde Park, the Serpentine, and Fortnum and Mason. Womble names, chosen at random from a map of the world, are interesting to pronounce. They collect rubbish and renew it in some way to make it magical. They have a philosophical nature and saw the good in people. Most importantly, they are part of a hidden world. My favourite chapter in the books was the one about the lonely elderly gentleman who bumped into Great Uncle Bulgaria one Christmas Eve. He was invited back to the burrow for a party and ended up thinking life wasn’t so bad after all.
Not only that, but the TV show had the best theme tune!
The Wombles (first of five titles)
Author: Elisabeth Beresford
Storing fact one: I’m a hoarder who has had to curb her natural hoarding habits and try and live a bit more sensibly. For now (bwahahaha...)
Recycling fact two: I was the sort of child who always wanted empty tubs and cereal packets so I could make things.
Renewing fact three: I used to make walkie talkies from yoghurt pots and telescopes from toilet rolls. I was convinced that they worked.
Collecting fact four: I used to collect an awful lot of strange things – buttons, badges, beads, erasers, key-rings, tips of coloured lead pencils (they looked pretty in a tin!), and stickers.
Collecting fact five: Favourite stickers to collect were Garbage Pail kids, which always smelt slightly like the rubbish bubble gum that also came in the pack.