Wednesday, 20 June 2012


Fantasy Bob would like to take a small moment to celebrate the 100th birthday of Anthony Buckeridge who was born on 20 June 1912.  He died in 2004.

Anthony Buckeridge
Buckeridge was the author of one of FB's favourite childhood reads, the Jennings books.  In all there were 25 Jennings books, the first in 1950 and the last in 1994, which followed the misadventures of Jennings and his chum Darbishire at their minor preparatory school Linbury Court.  Jennings was an imaginative and impulsive boy whose fancifulness got him into many a scrape, usually in the reluctant company of the more phlegmatic and dogged Darbishire.  The stories were comic, verging on farcical with comedy of character incident and language.  Test Match Quality in its genre.

FB was not a public school boy - even though, in an interesting facet of the difference between the English and Scottish educational systems, his first school in Aberdeen, Ashley Road Primary, proudly bore the legend Public School carved into its granite facade.  He barely knew what a preparatory school was.  So there is some mystery in how he engaged so strongly with the characters in this series.  But the stories were about boys attempting to make sense of the adult world in their own environment and about how they found degrees of freedom within the constraints that seemed to bind them tightly. And they were funny.

Cover from one of the Jennings books
As might be expected at a prep school, cricket was obligatory and featured from time to time in the tales.  If FB recalls correctly, Jennings had some proficiency although inclined to the big shot when something more controlled was required, but his chum Darbishire was not made for cricket or any other sporting activity and hilarity always followed when he found himself roped in.

FB might have though that the boarding school tale was a thing of the past, reflective of another world and another set of values.  He has no idea whether the institutions still prosper.  However as a literary genre it is still significant, as the Harry Potter stories show. What are they but a juiced up series of school tales - where Quidditch has, to the eternal shame of all involved, replaced cricket?

Happy Birthday Anthony Buckeridge.  Thanks for the fun.

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