The Captain Hook Affair by Humphrey Carpenter

The Captain Hook Affair

I’ve always been interested in classic children’s literature and for that reason I bought a copy of a book called Secret Gardens – a Study of the Golden Age of Children’s Literature by Humphrey Carpeneter, so when I saw this book The Captain Hook Affair by the same author it was a must buy for me, because I also collect different editions of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, so this one sort of fitted into my collection. It was published in 1979 and has drawings by Posy Simmonds, her work is always so recognisable. I managed to buy a fairly cheap second hand copy of it.

As you would expect from a writer who was obviously an expert in children’s literature, Carpenter didn’t waste much time in getting rid of the parents, a must for any successful story.

Lizzie’s father had abandoned his wife and daughter when Lizzie was just 5 years old and since then things had been difficult. There was never any money and when Lizzie’s mother became ill it was decided that Lizzie would have to go into a children’s home until her mother got better.

At the same time Lizzie’s granny started to go downhill fast and when Lizzie was saying goodbye to her, granny asked Lizzie to get something out of a drawer for her. Lizzie was hoping that Granny would give her a bit of the lovely jewellery which she saw there but it was a wee silver pencil which Granny wanted Lizzie to have. Lizzie had never seen anything like it before, it was a propelling pencil and it wasn’t long before Lizzie discovered that if she pointed it at an illustration in a book then she was whisked off into the story.

In this way Lizzie visits the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in Alice in Wonderland and various other stories but it’s the story of Peter Pan and mainly Captain Hook and his pirates who are the main characters.

There’s quite a lot of comedy involved, especially when Dr Max, a child psychologist insists that Lizzie and her friend are suffering from mental problems. He just can’t believe what he sees.

Sadly Humphrey Carpenter died not long ago but he left behind a fair amount of well written books, probably the most well known ones are about Mr Majeika, starring that great Scottish actor Stanley Baxter. Those ones were turned into a TV programme in 1988. My boys loved it when they were wee. Poor Humphrey Carpenter doesn’t even get a mention in the credits of the programme, presumably it was dramatised for TV by someone else.

Library Loot (and mobile phones)

I had a phone call from my local library the other day letting me know that a book which I had requested was ready to be picked up so I strolled along there and had a look around to see if there was anything else worth taking out. It’s often quite slim pickings but this time as you will see I ended up borrowing quite a few.

1. The Brandons by Angela Thirkell (Joan Kyler mentioned this author and I thought I’d give her a go.) This is the one I requested.

2. A Matter of Trust by Robin Pilcher. I’ve enjoyed quite a few of his mother Rosamunde’s now so I thought it would be interesting to see what he is like.

3. Still Midnight by Denise Mina. I’ve been meaning to read something by her for ages because she’s from Glasgow and sometimes appears on the Friday Newsnight review.

4. An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson. Jo at The Book Jotter is reading this author so I thought I’d give her a go.

5. News From Nowhere by William Morris. This one was on a prominent stand shouting ‘borrow me’. I knew that Morris wrote poetry but this is ‘Chapters from a Utopian Romance’ – could be interesting.

6. Secret Gardens (the Golden Age of Children’s Literature) by Humphrey Carpenter. He wrote the Mister Majeika books which were so popular when our sons were wee. I keep having to get this book out to check information, I think I’ll end up buying it.

So, as you can see, quite a haul. Now I just have to read them all.

Making my way to the crime section I had to go past a chap who was just beginning a call on his mobile/cell phone, a bit strange I thought because I assumed that people wouldn’t use them in the library. Silly me! I actually turned away from him and walked to another area because I didn’t want him to think I was listening in!

However he proceeded to yell into his phone whilst walking all around the library. The first thing he said was ‘Hello, it’s about consolidating a loan!!’ I was flabbergasted, he continued to answer all the personal questions that were obviously being put to him – the upshot of which is that and I everybody else within the library couldn’t help hearing it all. Name, address, employment details, personal numbers, how much debt he had – the lot.

Talk about being cavalier with your own security! I couldn’t believe it. I’m not a great one for speaking on the phone much and to me a mobile phone is for emergency use only. It’s beyond me why people use them for such inane conversations, like the people who block up the aisles in supermarkets while they phone someone to ask what sort of frozen peas they should buy. Birds Eye or Tesco’s own brand? they yell. Make a bloody decision, I scream. In my head.

For some reason a lot of people who have their phones clamped to their heads most of the time seem to think that nobody can hear what they’re saying and so they’re completely unaware that they are invading other peoples’ space.

I think it’s similar to people who think that nothing bad can happen to them because they have a camera in front of them, or they think that they can’t get in the way of people, like that idiot photographer who jumped in front of a marathon runner to get a photo of him and tripped the poor runner up.

Heigh-ho! I just felt the need to share that and have a bit of a rant. Now I’m off to get some reading done.