corfe castle dorset ginger pop shop

 

 

The Ginger Pop Shops in Corfe Castle and Poole Quay have both now closed.

The principle reason for the closure at Corfe Castle was the sale of the building, following the move of the post office to the village shop. This was compounded by the untimely death of my lovely business partner, Mark Annis, in February 2017.

But to my regular customers, who enjoyed supporting a small shop run by dedicated specialist staff, A HUGE THANK-YOU.

Viv Endecott        

 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

There are many reasons why I was too embarrassed to carry on selling Enid Blyton’s books:

  1. The Price

In 2004 the retail price of a Famous Five book was £3.99. In 2016 it was £6.99. In a period of low inflation, what else had increased in price by 75% ? Meanwhile the publishers had adopted a policy of pile-it-high and sell-it-cheap with the supermarkets and discounters, with the retail price of a book sold by them at about £1. Children still enjoy reading Famous Five of course, but they don’t buy them new because charity shops and car-boots are awash with boxed sets of Blyton books.

Recently some titles have been released with lovely sparkly hard-covers. However the quality of the paper inside is barely better than newsprint.

  1. Political Correctness gone mad.

Example. In the 2016 version of The Secret Island, Nora is no longer slapped for not doing the housework to her awful aunt’s satisfaction, but is yelled-at. A modern child reading this text could think to themselves “If I get shouted-at for not doing my chores, then that is good enough reason to run away from home.”

Example. In Malory Towers, Darrell no longer slaps Gwen for ducking Mary-Lou in the swimming pool but shakes her roughly. This is a key scene in the story, and her loss of temper haunts Darrell for the rest of her time at school.

At no point is Blyton defending the use of violence, so why change it? If the current generation of editor’s think that actual slapping is the same as shaking or shouting, no wonder we are producing a generation of “snowflakes”.

  1. Bowdlerising the books

Example The Secret of the Old Mill. This is the very first of the Secret Seven books, and I was pleased to recommend it until I realised that the whole of the first chapter was missing. In it, how the Secret Seven Society came to be formed is described. Maybe the editor found the depiction of a boy engrossed in a book so unlikely that it was deemed inappropriate. When I visited the publisher’s stand at the London Book Fair I was told that modern children don’t particularly like books that have a beginning. So that does away with “once upon a time...”

Example Noddy goes to Toyland. Enid Blyton’s story is 60 pages long. The new “classic adventure” is 40 pages long. I am also embarrassed that the good golliwogs have been replaced by monkeys, which I think is racist.

  1. Contempt of the author by the owners of Enid Blyton’s Intellectual Property Rights.

Example – character assassination. Chorion sanctioned the BBC4 film “Enid” in 2009. It was an unkind depiction; Enid Blyton was a driven genius and not easy to live with, but this film gave her no redeeming features at all. It did not mention how holidays in Dorset could be a month long. It did not talk about her passion for her charity work. The film had an awful scene with her daughter Imogen being shouted-at for asking about granny when she died. My understanding is that Imogen was in her 20’s when granny died, not about 7 as shown in this film; maybe they didn’t want to pay for another actor. People who wanted to talk to me about this film were unlikely to purchase anything because it had destroyed the magic for them.

Example - Enid Blyton went to court to uphold that only books she wrote would ever have her name on the cover. I tried not to stock anything that was not by Blyton if it had her trade-marked signature on the cover.

  • Hachette released their Famous Five On-the-case books in 2008, apparently faithful to the spirit of the original series. Titles included The Case of the Thief Who Drinks from the Toilet, The Case of the Plant That Could Eat Your House, and The Case of the Guy Who Makes You Act Like a Chicken.

Example - I thought that customers should read the book the author had intended and not the one an editor thought that she should have written.

  • In 2010 Famous Five “revised editions” were released with a text suitable for 6 year olds. With no hard words or descriptive passages, they read like a parody of the originals, becoming everything the critics had said about Blyton’s writing. Maybe the editors had deemed it inappropriate that children learn new words from books.

Neither of these series was successful. However, what was a success were their associated publicity campaigns, with wide coverage in national newspapers, and TV interviews with top executives telling the public that children were no longer interested in reading the original Enid Blyton texts. Some adults believed them and then stopped buying the books for young relatives.

  • Hachette sanctioned “adult” Famous Five books in 2016. These “adult” books, with their lovely period covers and distinctive Enid Blyton signature, would appear to any 8 year old fan to be written by her.

The executive I met at the London Book Fair told me “Hachette publish with pride and integrity”

Other things that pissed me off.

  • Browsers who told me that I had “a lovely shop” and that they could buy “everything”, but ended up buying absolutely nothing.

  • Browsers who had no intention of buying anything, but felt that they were entitled to sneakily photograph my stock without asking. If you want to see if someone else would like an item, it is good manners to ask permission of the shop-keeper first.

  • Browsers who would take my advice about which would be the best book for their child, and then walk out thanking me profusely, but intending to purchase from an on-line outfit with curious tax arrangements.

What went wrong with Eileen Soper’s Illustrated Worlds on Poole Quay.

  • I couldn’t use Enid Blyton in the name of the attraction because I thought the contract offered to me was unfair. They were also worried that I might damage the brand and cause confusion in the minds of consumers. Eileen Soper had illustrated around 150 of Blyton’s books, probably the biggest collaboration between an artist and an author, and I felt she should be better known.

  • It opened in 2009, the same year as the Great Economic Crash

  • The BBC had shown (several times) their award winning film Enid, which depicted Blyton as a first-class bitch

  • The Managing Director of Hodders had fronted two highly successful publicity campaigns to tell the world that children didn’t read Enid Blyton any more

  • I had planned a huge event in 2012 to mark 70 years of the Famous Five. Organisations in Dorset were being encouraged to promote the county because the sailing Olympics were coming to Weymouth. I wanted to use this unique opportunity to make Dorset as synonymous with Enid Blyton as the Lake District was with Beatrix Potter. The Famous Five Adventure Trail had been 6 years in the planning and took in the landscape of Poole Harbour and Purbeck. In my schedule, all the elements were to be in place by September 2011, with lots of publicity booked ready for a launch in May 2012. However, unknown to me, the parent company of Blyton was deeply in debt. They put themselves up for sale, and whilst they liked my idea in principle, no-body in the company was prepared to make any decisions or give written permission for my idea, lest they were sued by subsequent buyers. I was working with 25 local and national organisations; each had invested a lot of time and money to what I had intended to be a world-class event and I managed to piss-off every single one of them because I couldn’t say what was happening. Then the new owners wanted me to totally re-write the thing in April 2012; I refused. Eventually they gave permission for the summer-long trail to go ahead. Virtually no publicity was in place, and as it turned out, the summer of 2012 was the wettest on record and people didn’t want to set foot outside the door.

  • The Attraction was intended to be all weather, year-round, and for all ages, especially baby-boomers. It included a mystery to solve, a secret passage to find, an enchanted forest mirror-maze, local farming films from the 1940s, a play caravan, Dorset in wartime with extracts from the Dorset WI war-book, a parlour full of activities and games for all ages, story-telling and demonstrations of our 0 gauge clockwork railway. We knew that the Beatrix Potter Attraction in the Lake District was able to attract adults, but I failed. We had taken great care to make it suitable for people with early onset dementia, but despite publicity got very few takers. The very day we made the final decision to close in November 2012, a researcher from Bournemouth University came round to find what Poole had to offer people with dementia.

My respect for Enid Blyton as an author is undiminished.

  • The author, 700+ titles with 100 still in print. Maybe she would be held in higher regard if she had written just 2 classic series, and not 20

  • Her wartime work. Enid Blyton at War, an activity day in the grounds of Corfe Castle is something of which I am very proud. (That Hachette executive didn’t believe that we had done bomb disposal for beginners – we’d used stirrup pumps!)

  • Her business acumen. Using her signature as a logo, developing Noddy as a brand, and constantly keeping in touch with her customers – famously only being interested in the opinions of people under the age of 12.

===========================================================