Stylist magazine probably doesn't see me as its main target demographic: wrong gender, too old, not enough children... and yet its latest issue (no. 123, 25 April 2012) did include something which caught my eye. Yes - those Wombles get everywhere.
They turned up in the 'Outspoken' column of Lucy Mangan, as part of a reflection on the nature of introversion and how the circumstances of work and, in particular, motherhood can provide a highly stressful challenge. Mangan describes how she is wont to 'flee' from the company of everyone, including husband and baby. She asks:
'Do you know what I mean when I say I am possessed by the feeling that I simply cannot be alone enough? In times of real stress, I break out my childhood copy of The Wombles and feverishly re-read. All I want at that moment is to join them in their lovely burrow, so brilliantly hidden from prying eyes and yapping mouths.'
Yes, I do know what she means. Perhaps you do, too. One of the pleasures of books is that they can enable you to withdraw into a world created by the author, which you witness and interpret in your own way. And one of the reasons for the longevity of the Wombles, and for the love and affection they seem to inspire in so many people, is that their world is safe. They do have their own challenges to face, but nobody gets hurt and they are a true family in their own little burrow, sheltered from the outside.