It’s hard to explain just what I felt when I saw her.
She was incredible. Standing there on the Northern line like she hadn’t just rocked my world. It hit me like lightning, a tidal wave and a right hook rolled into one. I reeled a little, regained my balance, tried to pass it off like the driver must have hit a jumper coming into Goodge Street. They were maybe the strongest feelings I’ve ever felt for another human being.
Because when I saw her standing there, reading ‘Moomin and the Moonlight Adventure’, it’s possible I’ve never been so angry.
She must have been in her thirties. Wearing whatever the woman version of a suit is called. Probably back from a tiresome meeting about spending targets and efficiencies that mean Gerry in HR isn’t long for Morgan Stanley or some awful place. None of that matters now though because it had been raining for days in Moominvalley, but now the clouds had cleared and it was a fine day for an adventure. Moomintroll was excited – he and Snorkmaiden and Little My, Moominpappa and Moominmamma, were all going to sail to Lonely Island to look for treasure! But by the time everyone was ready to leave, the sun had set and night had fallen. Would they ever be able to find any treasure just by the light of the moon?
Who knows eh? Perhaps they’d meet a man with a rifle keen to extract their teeth for the burgeoning Chinese trinket market. Remember Moomingrandma? Ripped from sternum to snout by a fucking great machete while out buying tummy powder. Never did catch the bastard, but that’s all right, because it’s Moomin adventure time!
It’s Potter, I know that. The woman Rowling, an otherwise fairly sensible individual if her public pronouncements are anything to go by, squatted over the world and produced stool after stool of magical waste that you people just gobbled right up like a very mucky German on the internet. I don’t know how she made it happen, but people like me who refused to get excited about a ginger boy riding a broomstick around a castle were suddenly found wanting. I’m ridiculed for not having read a book whose intricate plots include a ‘three-headed dog guarding something in a deserted corridor’, it says here, and my wailed protestations that I’m not 10 ironically make me sound exactly that to the cultured ears of the Potterati.
Forgive me if I’m not keen to spend what little time I can pinch away from shining, hypnotic screens reading about bouncing tigers and children riding enormous fruit. Naturally I spent a great many years hoovering up Roald Dahl, Fighting Fantasy and the increasingly eclectic cast of Thomas the Tank Engine, but at some point during my early teenage years I discovered Stephen King and realised that axe murderers were more appealing than talking trains. A complicated whodunit or a thought provoking futuristic dystopia engage my adult brain and allow my imagination to roam far beyond Toad Hall. Meanwhile, Ron, Hermione, and Harry join the effort to save Hagrid’s hippogriff, Buckbeak.
I don’t want to take your childhood away from you, creepy as it is that you’re intent on reviving it. Let’s face it, I don’t have to. You do the same pointless job day after day, drink to forget about it, endure middling relationships that usually run out of fizz at the chrysalis stage and your knee hurts if you get up too fast. You couldn’t be more adult if you broke your hip.
Nor is it my job to tell you what to read. Flick yourself off to the various varieties of grey and swallow as much Dan Brown as you like, see if I care. But continue reading books plainly intended for kids and you’ll be contributing to the type of societal infantilisation that lead us to children losing Doctor Who to adults forever, and ‘Boaty McBoatface’, for the love of Christ.
Fresh from the horror of the Moomin imbecile I now discover a man named Bruce Handy has written a serious book entitled Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult. This helped ruin a morning last week as two babyish cretins discussed the topic on the radio, in among stories of modern day slavery, oddly inaccurate Korean missiles and Thought for the fucking Day. Apparently it’s a great thing to do if you want to block out everything that’s happening to everyone you know all of the time while you stand there helplessly waiting for your turn on the spit.
Or maybe try a book that makes you think, laugh, rage, inspired or any of the other things that constitute life when you stop giving a damn that Ginny kissed your boyfriend at that party and your mum won’t let you stay up past ten playing Minecraft. Your childhood is over and you’re not getting it back. Children are having a perfectly carefree time without you muscling in on their territory like the dad who won’t give up the Xbox controller.
Ah sure, you could make impending nuclear doom less scary by making fart noises with your armpit and giggling at it, but I don’t think that’ll stop you turning into flakes. No, what you need is Steinbeck, Bukowski, Orwell, Asimov, Niven, Ellis and Welsh.
ENOUGH Potter, be it Beatrix or the little shit with the glasses. We let you get away with wearing a silly hat at Christmas, for God’s sake leave it at that.