Monday, 25 May 2015

Fictional Food Adventure: Reading The Borrowers by Mary Norton

Do you know the theme tune to The Borrowers T.V series? The plinky, clunky jugga-jugga sound of it is full of so many other lovely senses all linked to hearing it: the smell of toast, the scrape of a knife spreading butter, the loud drizzling of dark brown tea into 4 big mugs from a big brown teapot, the crackle of the fire, the poker stirring the embers as fresh coals are heaped on top, and the nestling into the cosy sofa amidst crochet blankets as we all gathered to see the next episode at a Sunday teatime. 

This series aired in 1992. I was 8. It was epic. I loved it so much, everything about it was exciting and riveting. I loved Arietty, but at the time didn't really understand her yearning for freedom. Perhaps because I had that luxury in abundance and didn't really understand that it could be different for other kids. I had a big garden and our house was surrounded by fields that I could roam in whenever I liked. But now I really see her need to get out and be independent. To feel the fresh air and face danger.

I read the Borrowers some years ago, when I was a teenager, and devoured the entire series with an enormous appetite. These books are wonderfully written and flow along beautifully. This time around, I am listening to The Borrowers, read by Samantha Mathis. But I need to invest in my own copies of the books. They are full of so many things that make an appealing story. There are the comforts of home, good food, love and family, then danger and risk, and braveness, and determination. 

As a child I couldn't resist miniature things. I used to seek out the most tiny sea shells on the beach, I ate cereal with a mustard spoon, from a tea strainer bowl, I adored the mini Hovis loaves you could buy, and relished the little sandwiches you could make from them. My Sylvanians had a tiny ceramic tea-set, and I had a miniscule basket which I used to put picnic food in. It was smaller than a thimble. 

So The Borrowers held great appeal for me, with their tiny world, a strange combination of their own smallness and human-sized objects that were enormous to them - a potato that they roll into the kitchen to extract a tiny piece for their dinner - a single shrimp each makes an entire meal for them. I'm looking forward to sharing my own little Potted Shrimp soon, although Andy and I needed a little more than one each.

A few years ago Studio Ghibli made 'Arietty', a beautiful retelling of the story. The animation is gorgeous, and the details are so intricate. The music is also wonderful and I highly recommend the film.

I'm very glad that we now own the complete series of The Borrowers on dvd. They are pretty excellent, and very close to the original story. 
If you read The Borrowers, however, be warned that you will instantly need to then read all the following titles: The Borrowers Afield, The Borrowers Afloat, The Borrowers Aloft.


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