Thursday 1 November 2018

Hobbits and Wombles

After reading The Hobbit in the early 1970s I suffered a kind of craving for more of the same; or, since (after finishing Lord of the Rings) that was not possible; then for something similar.

In A look behind the Lord of the Rings (1969), Lin Carter made reference to the Minnipins novels (The Gammage Cup and the Whisper of Glocken) by Carol Kendall - and I managed to find the two books about these rather Hobbit-like people; which I greatly enjoyed (and have re-read many times - including aloud to my children).

Other Hobbit-like stories came from the Wombles which were in a series of books by Elizabeth Beresford, and some delightful BBC stop-animation puppet features broadcast from 1973-5; commencing shortly after I was gripped by Hobbit-mania.

The Wombles are rounded and comfort-loving, furry all-over (not just their feet), live underground - and, in a sense, represent how Hobbits might have adapted to living hidden in the modern world; since they live by scavenging whatever is lost or abandoned on Wimbledon Common in London; and improvising from it everything that they need.

For a few years, Britain was gripped by an obsession with Wombles; including a Wombles pop-group (comprising grown men in hypertrophied costumes miming to recordings) that released a series of initially OK but progressively worse-and-worse songs about Wombles. In sum; Wombles were overexposed and hyped to the point that everyone was thoroughly fed-up with them, and glad to see the back of them.

Nonetheless, the original book and the TV series were charming, cozy, entertaining and Hobbit-like.

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