Never has a question cheered me up so much. It arrived by email on Monday evening, the day we’d all been told, once more, that we were to stay inside. And even though it is January – dark, cold, icy, with not much to go out for – it was one of those heart-sink, here-we-go-again moments. I couldn’t help but think we were all back in a jumble, at times I feel I might crumble, but we all fumble through, trying hard not to grumble (not always succeeding), made humble by the ongoing vagaries of the virus, our moods tumble (then rise again), and all but the most steady-minded of us occasionally stumble. I am sure, therefore, you will indulge my smile-turned-to-laughter when I read the question: “are you in a bumble?” It brought to mind an image of a confused bee flying about the flat banging against a closed window trying to get out; could be a suitable image for many of us these days. Truth is, I have no idea if I am in a bumble (by which I suppose she meant a bubble) anymore. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to bumble (I’m officially adopting it as a much better word); and if I am, I probably shouldn’t be admitting to it in a blog. Then, out of nowhere (well, out of the rhyming land of my head), came a forty-year-old memory of a childhood book I used to read called Bottersnikes and Gumbles – ring a bell with anyone? It’s a children’s book by S.A. Wakefield, an Australian, and so the cultural references are Australian – although all of that was lost to me reading it as a child. Both Bottersnikes and Gumbles are fascinating, but it is the Gumbles I think we need to emulate these days. Here’s a brief as to the character of both from the book cover.
“Bottersnikes are ugly, they have green faces with slanting eyes, noses like cheese graters, and mean little mouths. They have wrinkly skin and their eyes turn red whenever they are angry, which is often. They are probably the laziest creatures in the world. Gumbles are happy little creatures who love to paddle in ponds (they can’t actually swim), they are clever and resourceful but are hopeless when they go all giggly. When some Bottersnikes caught some nice round little Gumbles, they discovered they could squeeze them into any shape they liked without hurting them, and that if they were pressed very hard they flattened out like pancakes and couldn’t get back into their proper shapes without help. ‘Useful,’ growled the Bottersnike King. ‘We can pop ’em into jam tins and squash ’em down so’s they can’t get away, and when I want some work done, they’ll be ready and wanting to do it.’ But the Gumbles were much too clever to stay stuck in those pesky jam tins for too long.”
Here’s what I’m getting to: I’m not sure about being in a bumble, but I’m going to turn myself into a Gumble so that any day I feel a bit flat or squashed I can, with a little help, bounce back into shape.