Saturday, 14 April 2012

When in Doubt, Rave About the Moomins

I think it's quite a good piece of guidance for life in general, but it's certainly useful for those times when you suddenly notice that you're supposed to be writing a blog post for Saturday and you forgot to start thinking of possible topics in plenty of time.

So I will rave about the Moomins. Just in case you don't know them, they are a family of cuddly and intriguing trolls, created by the Finnish author Tove Jansson back in the 1940s and still delighting children and adults all over the world (including me) today.

Many of the books I loved as a child disappoint me when I go back to read them now. That's not necessarily a fault of the books; it can simply be a matter of intended audience. It always surprises and delights me when books do stand the test of time; especially the test of growing up. 

I often tell myself I read for entertainment and escapism, to alleviate boredom, supply companionship and enjoy language. All those things are true. But I think the main reason I read (and always did) is to discover the magic formula for living. I still haven't found it, I know that much. It's what some people call an instruction manual, a kind of Hitchhiker's Guide to Life, but it's far more than that. Or it would be, should it exist. It would assure me of my place in things. Not too big a place - crushed by responsibility - but not too small, either. The bed and the bowl of porridge that are 'just right'.

So at times when I'm despairing of ever finding a way to accept myself, or when I doubt that the mush I call myself is even worth accepting, it's very important to have the right book - or series - to hand. The Moomins fit that bill. There's a central family: Moominpappa, Moominmamma and their son Moomintroll. They are smooth and round and covered in white, velvety fur. On a bad-weight day, that's exactly how I'd like to look. Tummies are fine in Moomin Valley. In fact, any size or shape or colour or hair/fur-type or personality is fine. You can disappear for months on end like Moomintroll's pal Snufkin, and turn up on the first day of spring to a wondrously warm welcome. You can hibernate all winter, presumably missing Christmas (hurray!) You can be brash and noisy like the Hemulen, a thoughtful philospher or a mischievous child  like Little My.