Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Today in Charity Shops

I may have gone a little overboard. After a few months of trying not to spend anything on books or clothes, and just make do with what I had, today, I got a black and white stripey t-shirt, a book of Oscar Wilde's children's stories, a collection of short stories by female authors edited by Susan Hill, a copy of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams, and a make your own bunting kit. But they're all so amazing!

I also found a little book called The World Book Day The Children's Book of Books 1999, which was a collection of extracts of stories and poems, was available with the £1 book voucher every child in the school was given on that day, and which contained a poem that absolutely scared the crap out of me. It was by Roald Dahl, and it was called The Tummy Beast:

One afternoon I said to mummy,
"Who is this person in my tummy?
"He must be small and very thin
"Or how could he have gotten in?"
My mother said from where she sat,
"It isn't nice to talk like that."
"It's true!" I cried. "I swear it, mummy!
"There is a person in my tummy!
"He talks to me at night in bed,
"He's always asking to be fed,
"Throughout the day, he screams at me,
"Demanding sugar buns for tea.
"He tells me it is not a sin
"To go and raid the biscuit tin.
"I know quite well it's awfully wrong
"To guzzle food the whole day long,
"But really I can't help it, mummy,
"Not with this person in my tummy."
"You horrid child!" my mother cried.
"Admit it right away, you've lied!
"You're simply trying to produce
"A silly asinine excuse!
"You are the greedy guzzling brat!
"And that is why you're always fat!"
I tried once more, "Believe me, mummy,
"There is a person in my tummy."
"I've had enough!" my mother said,
"You'd better go at once to bed!"
Just then, a nicely timed event
Delivered me from punishment.
Deep in my tummy something stirred,
And then an awful noise was heard,
A snorting grumbling grunting sound
That made my tummy jump around.
My darling mother nearly died,
"My goodness, what was that?" she cried.
At once, the tummy voice came through,
It shouted, "Hey there! Listen you!
"I'm getting hungry! I want eats!
"I want lots of chocs and sweets!
"Get me half a pound of nuts!
"Look snappy or I'll twist your guts!"
"That's him!" I cried. "He's in my tummy!
"So now do you believe me mummy?"
But mummy answered nothing more,
For she had fainted on the floor.
(From this website.)

When I first read this, aged 8 or 9, it scared the living daylights out of me, and I think it is the source of my unusual fear of tiny, borrower-style people (glimpses of a tv adaptation of Gulliver's Travels and snippets of the film Honey I Shrunk the Kids can probably be blamed as well). The book seemed vast to me when I was younger, but looking back on it, there's only one or two pages of each story extract, and they're on tiny pages with massive writing. There was one page of Harry Potter in there! How is that supposed to convince you that you like the book enough to buy it?! I also remember being frightened by a short extract featuring a malevolent imaginary friend. I think it was so scary because the story was unfinished, so in my imagination, anything horrible could have happened.

However, it was strange to come across something so evocative of my days in primary school in the middle of a chaotic charity shop.

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