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Enid Blyton can tell us all a thing or two

It was only a matter of time, before my constant references to Madonna would back fire.

She has obviously been paying such attention to the new found self-promotion that my blog has bought her it has flung her into another one of those doses of Humanitarian guilt that occasionally engulfs celebrities and makes them (to almost completely plagiarise Comic Relief) want to “do something silly for Mummies”.

Firstly though, (and I assure this will all flawlessly link back to the aforementioned celebrity and life at Save the Children, 25 Derby Road, Nottingham) I’d like to introduce you to a man I discovered this weekend.

His name is Mr Twiddle and he is the star of my new favourite book which I discovered in our very store earlier today.

Created in 1968 by Mrs Enid Blyton his 41 one years should be starting to show, not least because a man with his taste for bright yellow waistcoats and portly physique would undoubtedly have be forced onto some humiliating fashion makeover show shortly before being declared morbidly obese and having to
spend the rest of his life eating rice cakes and watching his cholesterol.

But fortunately he comes from a different era where there are no ASBOs yielding youths, trans-fats or reality TV shows.

This world is nearly entirely populated by himself, his highly intimidating wife (she even refers to him as Twiddle! I mean my girlfriend is seriously scary but she at least calls me by my first name, well on a good day) and their cat, who is rather disappointingly just known as ‘Cat’. (Enid was obviously having an off day on the naming front).

Anyway in the first story, he receives a new hat from his sister Hannah, (again Enid lets us down, a ‘Hannah’ in the 1950’s! What about all those great lost names like Ethel or Margaret or Constance?) and is so excited he decides that lady luck must be shining down on him.

Now if I’m being honest this wouldn’t be my response to receiving a hat from either of my sisters. My initial reaction would be ‘oh great’, is there some sort of ‘Siblings Day’ I now have to remember alongside major religious holidays, birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparents Day, Mothering Sunday, New Lawn Mower Tuesday and the never to be missed International Cabbage Eating Week.

Later that day (probably to get away from Mrs Twiddle) Mr Twiddle goes for a walk and sees some clothes under a bush. These aren’t any clothes, but a beautiful suit which fits him perfectly and even embroided with a ‘T’. Although he then changes back into his previous outfit, he assumes these threads have been beamed down by the same fates of good luck that brought him his new hat and takes them home.

When he gets home Mrs Twiddle (who, if this wasn’t a child books from the 1960’s, could have probably gone on to lead a series of successful military coups) barks at him for taking so long and then instructs him to get some clothes for the poor man who was in their kitchen, shivering and presumably naked
(was there such a thing as naked in the 1960’s?).

The man had gone swimming in the local lake, left his new suit under a hedge, only to return and find they had been stolen by a ‘robber’.

Mr Twiddle realising what he’s done goes into a bit of a panic (as you would if you were faced with the possibility of being proved an idiot, going to prison and being told off by a 1950’s version of Anne Robinson) and hides the suit in the cat’s basket, whilst sheepishly giving the man his finest suit
as his penance.

Eventually ‘Cat’, still annoyed with not having an adequate moniker, removes the suit from her basket and in the most appropriate use of a metaphor since that recent spell of parrot-sickness they look in astonishment at what the cat dragged in.

Of course there was no need for all this hullaballoo (or flagrant abuse of metaphor) because Mr Twiddle should have just gone to his local Save the Children shop where he could have picked up a nearly-new suit for gentlemen of all eras, shapes and sizes for as little as £10.

But what I came away with most from this story was a warning, that whilst I may feel so lucky to have a gorgeous smile, manly biceps and wild personal delusions, I should never forget just how easily that facade comes crushing down and how easily my self-confidence turns into narrow-mindedness and incompetence.

I am not going to claim that I would be anything but a ‘Beautiful Stranger’ (I’m not that delusional honestly, I’m just trying to fit in as many references as possible), to her. I even happen to think it’s great that the artist former known as Mrs Ritchie wants to give a child the best possible chance for a decent life and
I say that with all sincerity.

Despite this I would still like to pass on a suggestion from my first literary liaison with Mr Twiddle,

That is just because something seems to have no ownership, that you are not doing the world a favour to claim it for yourself however well you may intend to care for it.

You could take the clothes out of the charity shop, put posh labels on and sell them in a designer shop but then they would lose all their altruistic value, needless to mention that there wouldn’t be need for them, and then what would I do on a Saturday morning?

Mr Twiddle would have undoubtedly looked after the man’s suit and given his sister the delight of seeing his hat perfectly accompanied and you will I’m sure be a dedicated Mother again. You have though unfortunately I feel not considered fully the bigger picture that has been painted with regard your actions so please though don’t be surprised by the negative feedback.

All the best NGOs working in international development promote sustainability as a core value and they do so not just because it sounds clever but because it is the only way to ensure lasting change.

And when you take the kid out of Africa you don’t stop poverty, you just leave it behind to wreck the lives of those left.

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