Enid Blyton’s Holiday Stories then and now, part 7

I am at the half-way point!

Previous parts look at story 1, stories 2 and 3, stories 4 and 5, stories 6 and 7, stories 8 to 10 and stories 11 to 13.


The Smugglers’ Caves

Originally published in Sunny Stories #386 in 1946, the only reprint of this title in Blyton’s lifetime was inn the Sixth Holiday Book. It has appeared 5 times since then, including twice in 2015 – in this collection and another, shorter, collection by Bounty.

A brief review

This is more summer-holidayish than many of the other stories. Two boys are staying with their grandparents by the sea and go off to explore some caves. They bump into a scout troupe who aren’t very welcoming, and then find some bags and boxes in one of the caves. Noticing that the tide is on the turn they decide to hide the ‘treasure’ in a hole higher in the cave wall, then just manage to get out before the tide comes in.

When they return later to have a better look at their find, the boxes contain crockery and food, and the bags sporting gear…

I think any grown-up reading it could make a guess as to who the things belong to, and the boys aren’t too slow in working it out either, and everything is sorted out in the end.

While I like a god smuggler’s cave story, and am happy to see it subverted here, it doesn’t really make all that much sense.

The scouts do say they should have set up camp when they arrived instead of messing around, but the question is – why did the lug a bunch of (presumably) heavy boxes and bags through a narrow cave entrance in the first place? And then why did they leave them there? They could just have put them in a big pile on the beach. But then of course there would have been no story!

The updates

Rather few changes were made to this story. The brothers were Bill and Denis, now they are Bill and David. David has at least been in the top 60 names since the 90s, where it had been in the top ten, while both Denis and Dennis disappear from the top 100 by the 70s. Though I feel that Bill is quite old-fashioned too, there are at least a lot of boys still being named William these days.

Their Granpa is also changed, to Grandpa. I suppose technically that’s the ‘correct’ spelling, but people do use different versions. Grandfather, Grandad, Granddad, Grandpa, Granpa, Grampa, Pa, Gramps, and so on, so was it necessary to change it? I remember disagreeing with my mum when writing Christmas cards one year. I had wanted to write Granma and Granpa as that’s how we pronounce it, but Mum insisted there should be Ds in them. I can’t remember who won, but it was probably me because I was (still am) very stubborn.

Golly has been changed to gosh. Gosh is probably just as old-fashioned as golly, and in fact is often put with it as golly gosh! I can only imagine this was changed in case anyone thought it referred to gollywogs.

Lastly, you want a good hiding has become you want a good telling off. This change always sounds silly as it’s not really much of a threat, is it? It’s not even being carried out, or properly threatened, it’s just someone saying they deserve something. It seems a bit odd when just before the boys think that they’ll skin us alive.

The illustrations

Originally this had 9 illustrations by William J. Gale, all in a three-colour palette which is so common in the Holiday books. Happily the colour choice is a bit less garish than in some of the other stories.

Mr Gobo’s Green Grass

First published in Sunny Stories #179, 1940, this was then published in the Third Holiday Book. Excluding its use in this collection it has had only one other reprint, in 1970.

A brief review

Mr Gobo has a lawn which he is very proud of. He keeps it in perfect condition – or, rather, his servant does. It is rolled and mown daily, and no daisies, clover or wildlife of any kind are allowed to sully it. Obviously Mr Gobo doesn’t know how important worms are to soil health as he will even kill any worms he sees.

So all in all he’s a thoroughly unpleasant person. He’s so obsessed  with his lawn, and the idea of showing it off to a visiting prince that he even drags a woman from it after she is injured in a car accident outside his gate.

This is the last straw for his neighbour who goes off to a local woman who can talk to animals, and he has her send some moles to spoil the lawn and punish Mr Gobo.

This is one of those odd half-fantasy and half normal-life stories. The names are all odd – Gobo, Jinks, Prince of Ho-Ho, Mother Tickles, and so on, but nobody is referred to as a gnome or pixie or anything else magical. It’s not until Tibby Lickle is sent for, to talk to the moles, that the world is confirmed as a fantasy one. It’s also odd that there are cars in this fantasy world, as gnomes and pixies don’t normally have vehicles in Blyton’s stories.

I would have liked to see Mr Gobo be responsible for his own downfall more directly – perhaps by destroying the soil quality by killing all the worms or something.

The story has almost no relevance to holidays at all. It is likely summer as that’s when lawns at at their best, but that’s about it!

The updates

Again, very few edits were made to the story. Mister Gobo has become Mr Gobo, both in the title and within the story, and queer has been changed to funny.

Oddly Mister/Mr Gobo still whipped his dog till the poor thing cried. If, in the above story, we couldn’t have even the threat of violence, why is this OK?

The illustrations

The illustrations in the original clearly show its a fantasy world with Gobo and his neighbour looking like pixies of some sort with their pointed ears. The 7 Grace Lodge illustrations were mainly either yellow or orange, leaving the wonderful green lawn white! In the two that had green in them the lawn is still mostly white.

Smokey and the Seagull

One of the few titles not to come from one of the Sunny Stories magazines, this was first printed in Enid Blyton’s Magazine, volume 4, issue 15, 1956. That makes it the only story I have in its first printing, all the others come from their first inclusion in a story book collection. This has had a few reprints – the first retaining the hyphen in Sea-gull in 1975, the remining four, from 1991 onwards with Seagull in the title.

A brief review

Smokey the cat is tired of losing his dinner to a big seagull. Every day it flies down and steals his fish. His friend, Sooty, tells him there’s only one thing to do – pounce on the seagull and scare it off.

He does so – but he gets more than he bargained for when the seagull takes off with him still hanging on!

This has about as much to do with summer holidays as the story above does. They suggest that they are nearish to the sea as Smokey says he doesn’t like walking on sand, and of course there are seagulls around, but that’s it!

The updates

As above, the sea-gull loses his hyphen in the title, and in the text. Except for one occasion when they forgot to remove it.

Hyphens are also taken out of some other words/phrases like out-stretched (outstretched), and hiding-place (hiding place), but are left in others.

Most of the hyphens for emphasis are removed, but not all. One use of all capitals for ENORMOUS is made lowercase.

Smokey’s Mistress loses her capital letter, and queer becomes strange.

It seemed like whoever edited this was looking at grammar and style rather than content! Animals in books these days don’t have mistresses, capital M or not. And their not-mistresses probably open a tin of cat food rather than cooking them fresh fish every day.

But then they decided to make one random change –

The big sea-gull glided down on out-stretched wings. It landed on the lawn and closed them.

The big seagull glided down on outstretched wings. It landed on the lawn and closed its wings. 

I think it was perfectly obvious that them meant wings, it’s not as if a seagull (or anyone for that matter) can close a lawn!

Not so much an update but the magazine print has a little aside from Blyton at the end, giving us the origin of the story, and this doesn’t appear in the reprint.

(I wonder if Christine of Inverness is reading this story? It was she who told me how her cat pounced on a sea-gull and was carried up into the air – and so I have put it into a story!)

The illustrations

The magazine illustrations are uncredited, but there were 4 of them, two in black and white, one with green background and one with blue.



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1 Response to Enid Blyton’s Holiday Stories then and now, part 7

  1. Rashmi Varma says:

    Especially as the little folk are beings of nature, so are we all, but these magical beings realise this all the time. So it is a wonder that Gobo should dislike worms. EB in several of her stories has written quoting the fairy folk- no fairy being shall cause harm to any bird, animal, insect plant. tree or any being. Then again the car. Are there vehicles in fairyland? I did not come across any story as suchin her old editions.


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