My sister and I are sorting, clearing, cleaning, and sifting through. Our decisions are agonising, our conclusions, inconclusive. A family home and its contents has to be dismantled and disposed of, somehow, somewhere. We are opening cupboards and hesitating over their contents. We look at each other for guidance and the pile of “ we don’t know what to do with it, but can’t bear to throw it away” gets bigger.
Some little joys are our old books. Just half a dozen remain from our early childhood. There is one in particular. Tatty and broken backed, it is our first alphabet book. We both remember it so very well and the fact this little book has survived is surely a testament to its enduring appeal and the affection we all felt for it. It somehow escaped the jumble sale, the bring and buy and the charity shop and even our early artistic endeavours.
It is of course the charming “Ant and Bee”.
We remembered so well the handsome mustachioed Bee and the natty Ant and their surreal adventures with the Kindly Dog, who wears a trilby, just like Dad’s. It was a lovely, gentle and funny way to learn to read.
Is it just too fanciful to imagine that this early book planted a seed for Buzz? It has also made me remember beloved Ant, my little companion in Florida who liked to join in the drawing. He ran about my drawing board, in and out of my pencils and up and down my arms for months.
I read that the Ant and Bee series, which date back to the 1950s, are now very collectible. I have told my sister to guard this with her life !