Virginia Barton

3 August 2018: Comical!

3 August 2018


As mentioned elsewhere in these not exactly pages — rather observations, memories or Commonplaces — my mother had virtually no formal education to speak of. She said she learned almost everything she knew from her voracious reading: which was anything from ‘tecs (detective stories) through novels to high spirituality. She had no truck with the wireless (why?) and rarely watched TV after my father died. She could recite great chunks of poetry, first liners from almost all of Dickens’s books and several psalms. Enviable.

We benefited from this in many ways. Reading aloud almost every day, galleries, concerts, pantos and “suitable” plays.

(Interestingly I was not allowed to go to Hassan and still have neither seen nor read it. Is it very naughty I wonder? Madame Bovary, also forbidden, I did read many years later and found it corrosively nasty.)


We never had to go to school when the new Enid Blyton “Adventure came out. Imagine missing a whole day of schooling for a book! Do modern parents allow their children to stay at home when the new JK Rowling comes out?

Neither did my mother forbid the reading of comics – much frowned upon in those days as being trashy and unsuitable for nicely brought up girls. So every week my sister and I bought The Beano and The Dandy which we read from end to end in total silence, most likely sucking a gobstopper – also tolerated by my mother, despite the hideous name.


On July 30th, i.e. a day or two ago, the eightieth birthday of the Beano was announced! I haven’t bought it for years but shall make a point of doing so. Dennis the Menace and Gnasher, Minnie the Minx and The Bash Street Kids are old friends, although my personal favourite, Desperate Dan, featured in the rival Dandy, sadly bit the dust a while ago.

The Beano will head up my online shopping list whatever the price. The Enid Blyton’s we used to read in bed – all day if necessary – and the comics in the tube on the way to school.

They would then be hidden deep in our satchels; Miss Borchard and Mrs Hodgson would have confiscated them if some meanie saw them and sneaked. Oh the joy of pulling them out on the way home and swapping!

Thanks for the memories, Beano!





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