We’re already on our second Thursday of the month and, in keeping with my nostalgic film, I’m rewatching the second film that I reviewed on this blog. It was nearly a month after I posted the first one so, it’s safe to say, I had a pretty relaxed start to this whole thing. I’m so invested in my schedule these days that it’s hard to cope with the fact that I used to just post whenever I had something to write about. It could be weeks or months between writing. I’m not saying that these days I write to gain any kind of response but, back then, I definitely wasn’t writing with the belief that anyone was going to read it. To be honest, I probably only went through with it because I didn’t believe anyone was going to read it. I’d have been mortified to think anyone I knew would see what I was doing. I’m still a little mortified that so many people in my life know about this now but I my love for doing this outweighs all of my natural instincts to hide away. I wish I had more confidence. The kind of confidence it takes for a fox to steal food and drink from under the noses of three angry farmers. Oh, look at that. Brought right back round to topic in hand. It’s almost like I’ve done this blogging malarky before.
Last Monday I was lucky enough to see Bianca Del Rio perform in Manchester. It was something I addressed last week in my review of Hurricane Bianca so you may well be wondering why I’m bring it up over a week later? Well, I’m currently writing this the week before I go on holiday so I can schedule it to be uploaded whilst I’m away. It’s a level of dedication I’ve never strived for before and it feels weird. Good but weird. So, I’m still on a bit of a drag high. I mean I’m always on a bit of a drag queen high. I definitely thought I would hate Drag Race when a friend suggested I watch it but I was, as she predicted, quickly obsessed. I’ve watched all but the first season of the show at least three times in the last 12 months. Okay, I’ve not rewatched season 10 yet but Eureka annoyed the fuck out of me. I can’t go through that again. So, yeah, I love a bit of drag. And, as it’s on my mind, I decided to try to see if there was a Drag Race book tag. For one thing, there’s a book tag to do with anything these days. And, for another, I needed something to bosh out quite quickly. Luckily, I’m not the only Drag Race loving book nerd.
Dear Fantastic Mr Fox,
I realise as a book lover that I should probably have been more drawn to Matilda when I was younger. I should probably have seen myself somewhere in the tale of a girl who loves books and teaching people a lesson. They’re kind of my favourite things to do. And I did love her. I mean she’s basically the poster child for the eternally bookish and the book is the same age as I am. Still, when I was younger, it was you, Fantastic Mr Fox, that captivated me so much as a child. And who wouldn’t love this epic story of good triumphing over evil… especially when that good is a really cunning fox?
As a child I was part of pretty tight-knit group of friends. It comprised of myself, my twin sister, and out best friend at the time. We spent nearly all of time together. We loved the same things. And one of those things was you. One of my most vivid memories from childhood is being driven somewhere by our friend’s mum and begging her to let us listen to the cassette tape of you audio book. We must have worn that tape out considering the amount we listened to it. I’m pretty sure we would speak along with it and everything. We must have driven her mother insane. But we loved it.
There is no writer who can quite match up to Roald Dahl for being able to give a child what they want from a book. He never crosses the line with his darkness but he isn’t afraid to scare kids a bit. Boggis and Bunce and Bean are grotesque characters. They are genuinely disgusting and vicious and that’s really refreshing for a child. As a young reader, you aren’t really used to characters who are so realistically evil. You are used to fairy tale villains who are obviously just fictional. You know, evil queens who kill people who are more beautiful than they are. Or evil stepmothers who hate their beautiful stepdaughters. Basically we’re used to villains who are obsessed with looks and nothing else.
But you were different. You presented us with an image that was understandable in the real world. A group of farmers that wanted to kill a wild animal. And, let’s be honest, they were justified. I love Mr Fox, don’t get me wrong, but he did keep eating their livestock. I always wanted him to succeed but I could totally get why they were a bit miffed. This isn’t normal for children’s literature. You don’t get evil people who it is, on some deep deep level, okay to sympathise with… just a little bit. I worry I’m coming across as the kind of person who wants to see people kill foxes. I’m not. I love them. Mostly because of you; partly because of The Animals of Farthing Wood. Love them. Still, I’d be annoyed if one kept eating my chickens just to piss me off.
You are as clever and well-written as any other Roald Dahl book but there was obviously something so wonderful about you that we all kept coming back to. The cynical and realistic part of me wants to say it was because we all just bloody loved animals. It’s true. Part of the reason I love Aladdin so much is because Jasmine has a fucking tiger. I’ve wanted to be her all my life. But, I also like to think, in my nostalgic and dreamy way, that we knew then that you were special. That we knew you were a simple story told in a truly Dahl-esque style. That you were funny and scary at the same time. That you were rich in detail despite being so short. That you showed us that it’s important to stick up for yourselves. That it’s so easy to be underestimated and you can use that to your advantage. That you were more than just the tale of a fox being able to outsmart a group of farmers.
But probably not. We probably just loved that you were about a fox and that you got your tail shot off. Oh, and that rhyme is bloody memorable.
To Mr Fox! Long may he live!