Thursday, 19 May 2011

W is for... Wombles

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)
Published: 1968
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.


Out on the prairie said...

Interesting choice today, I watched a few of their clips and laughed at the language used.Not sure it would pass the censors , but I liked the format.They offer a example how to make do with what you have and using your imagination find a usefull purpose for all objects around you.

snafu said...

Bernard Cribbins did a wonderful job narrating the TV programme but what a lot of Womble songs were spun off from the show. They almost put me off but my boys had the books and they were well loved.

Old Kitty said...

I have never read the wombles books - shame on me! Oh but I love em!! Take care

Anonymous said...

Never even heard of the Wombles being from America, I guess. They sound interesting and fun.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I have added so many books to my list since you started this wonderful catalogue! I've loved it all!!

And now I see you are on Twitter? I've been thinking that looks rather fun? Is it?? Should I do it? I don't want to mess up and start a middle east revolution or anything, and I've heard that can happen! Please advise!! :)

snafu said...

Just watched one of the clips, where did it come from? Someone has dubbed a spoof sound track over it. Sounds like one of the voices from Spitting Image. It is certainly not Bernard Cribbins.

Kittie Howard said...

I'd never heard of wombles and thank you for opening up a brand new world. Will look into this more!

Jayne said...

Out on the prairie - was racking my brains to think what you could have seen to wonder at the language used, as the Wombles were very inoffensive, but now I see that some people have dubbed a different soundtrack over the top of a random clip on YouTube. Sometimes it's hard to find original clips of things without folk messing about! I've taken the 'related videos' off the embedded one in this post, so hopefully no one else will make that mistake. :)

Snafu - Funnily enough even though I was of the right age to be enamoured with womble songs I barely remember them - just the books and TV series. As for people dubbing odd soundtracks over the top - YouTube is full of them! Have taken off the 'related video' link from the one I have embedded here so hopefully no one will confuse the excellent Bernard Cribbins with anyone else.

Jayne said...

Old Kitty - I think you'd like the books!

Catherine - They are interesting and fun! Shame they never make it over the water to America. In the books they had an American cousin who came from Yellowstone. :)

Margo Benson said...

I've always loved The Wombles! I remember looking up all the place names when I was a child. Bernard Cribbins was so right as the narrator.

Brianna said...

My mom was so grossed out by the Garbage Pail Kids cards! She hated that I collected those. There was an old store at the top of our street that still sold Coke in bottles and had a bar in the back lost in a smoky haze. My friend and I would sneak up there to buy the cards. In the end, my mom threw them all away. I'd forgotten all about them until I read your last fact!

Julie@beingRUBY said...

Hi Jayne
Sounds like the wombles is a wonderful place to escape to... we all need a bit of that even as adults.. or maybe more so...

I must go back and check out all these great posts you've been doing.. I've seen them on my followers page but my internet has been so fickle haven't had a chance to view them yet,..

Thanks for your kind comments my way.. hope you have a lovely weekend.. ciao xxx Julie