The Museum of Cultural Waste: Bunty for Girls 1983
Since local supplies of shoddy, cheap toys remain limited and undependable, I thought it might prove vaguely amusing to launch a new series on the blog formerly known as fustar.org.
Since its inception Fústar's subtitle has been (the uncatchy) "Recycling Cultural Waste Since 2005…" and while I've generally tried to make the blog live up (or down) to these words the slogan has gone through spells of lurking in the shadowed background. With the help of the the shiny new (or, better yet, dusty, musty & old) "Museum of Cultural Waste" I hope to shove the blog's subtitle centre stage and to the front of the class.
The practises and theoretical foundations of the "Museum" are simple…and no doubt readily familiar to regular readers of Manky Toy Monday. Every so often (hopefully once a week/fortnight) I'll traipse into Limerick city centre and scour the charity shops, market stalls, second-hand establishments (etc) for discarded items in need of a good home. Pottery, board games, books, items of clothing, ornaments, commemorative objects – none shall be denied a place on the museum's shelves (where they shall be celebrated and discussed). The only criterion for inclusion is that they "speak to me"…either figuratively or literally.
First up (courtesy of J. J. Secondhand's High St. Bookshop) is a battered (but lovely) Bunty Book for Girls 1983.
The first thing that should be noted (or admitted) is how instantly familiar all of the volume's stories are to me. Given a limited supply of pocket money, a voracious appetite for comics, and two comic-buying sisters, I (like many a young fella I'd imagine) routinely devoured the contents of Bunty, Misty et al. Not only did this pursuit enable me to sate my comics addiction, it also (so I thought) allowed me to gaze through a forbidden window into the female world. What I saw there confirmed that "they" valued the following: hockey, horses, ballet, dolls, animals, gothic romance etc. It was like being in drag and going undercover.
The focus today, however, will not be on such "jolly hockey sticks" Bunty staples as "The Four Marys"1 (captivating as that was), but rather on the more obscure, soft-Sci-Fi adventures of "Belle of the Ball". Here's how Bunty '83 sums up what Belle was all about:
Belle Brown owned a ball that had developed remarkable powers after being treated by space travellers from the planet Orbis.
The inhabitants of Orbis clearly seem to work in mysterious ways their wonders to perform. Their quest for knowledge of Earth ways shows little respect for the traditional Sunday lie-in.
The ball starts to glow. A sign, as Belle tells us, that "a message from the spacemen is coming through". Like many messages of extraterrestrial origin, it is disappointingly mundane…
Off goes Belle to the river, where (as promised) there is much fishing and messing about in boats. One of these boats, however, contains a "business man", his wife, and a snotty, evil-minded son. Evil son tells father to splash fishermen on the bank. Father obliges. Son celebrates and topples into the water. Belle's Ball flies out of her hands and into the water where (after he grabs it in terror) it returns the brat to the safety of the river bank. Instead of being grateful the capitalist pig of a father sees an opportunity for a fast buck:
Capitalist Dad pays little heed to Belle's claims and promptly grabs the ball while Mrs. Capitalist opens the throttle and zooms off. From the safety of mid-river he demonstrates a time-honoured approach to things industry/science does not understand:
2 seconds later and Capitalist Dad is, predictably, humbled. His knife bends ("It's buckled the blade! It's as hard as a cannonball!) before the Orbisian ball forces his boat to run aground. "That's taught those river hogs a lesson!" exclaims a delighted fisherman. Hoorah!
Like many good aliens before them the Orbisians clearly have a penchant for exposing (and punishing) human greed, ignorance and folly. Sanctimonious bastards…
More from the museum soon.
- Mary Radleigh, Mary Cotter, Mary Simpson and Mary Field for those who need to know. [back]
October 15, 2007