Tuesday 22 January 2013


Reading them now I realise that I received some, if not most, of my moral education from the teachings of Roger Hargreaves. I retain some affection for the hapless Mr Bump but I think the two stories that still really stand up are Mr Greedy and Mr Nosey.

As you may remember Mr Nosey's neighbours, tired of his peeking and prying, devise a simple enough course of aversion therapy. The punishments meted out to the offending nose escalate in severity and it comes as a relief that he has learned his lesson before Mr Herd (the farmer) is called upon to bring his saw down on the nose, in a scene that would probably have been too horrific for the book.

Mr Greedy features some very fine language, the similes used to describe the giant's furniture for instance and the line, "laughed a laugh as loud as thunder" I always feel would have gone down well with an Anglo-Saxon audience. On balance I think I probably prefer Mr Greedy, possibly as I identify more with his particular failing than Mr Nosey's.

On holiday once I remember my dad (an irrepressible bibliophile) pointing out a house, and telling me that it was the home of Roger Hargreaves, author of the Mr Men books. Aged ten or so, I was too cool to care by then.

Sort of on topic, I had a teacher called Mr Mann. He was a nice bloke, probably not far off retirement. He endured me for A level Early Modern History. He clearly knew the period inside out and he was one of those teachers who could, with a disingenuous question, be induced into veering off on wide ranging and lengthy monologues, which often had little to do with the Holy Roman Empire, Ignatius Loyola or Zwingli etc. I found his lessons quite relaxing but I remember the shock I felt once when one of his extended digressions ended with the words, "...and that is why Adolf Hitler will be burning in Hell." I hadn't really been paying attention, I can only think he'd started off somewhere with Martin Luther.


  1. My wife is doing an open university degree in psychology. As with most OU courses, there's quite a wide-range of abilities... my wife is a high performer, and she sometimes comes back from tutorials a little frustrated with some of her course-mates. Not everyone will get a degree, but when you are already a graduate, being taught by someone aiming for the lowest common denominator is a bit of pain. Anyway. She's a swot and was all excited about the forthcoming reading list for her next module. Oh yes, I said, has Roger Hargreaves produced his long-awaited follow-up to classics like Mr. Tickle and Mr. Strong... Mr Phineas Gage? How I laughed.

  2. I always admired Zwingli: same conclusions as Martin Luther without any of the associated spiritual agonies. Plus he was a swiss mercenary in the Italian Wars, so was presumably a bad ass.

  3. That's a bit weird, I confess I was at a loss with your joke, I rolled the name around my mouth a few times, wondering if it was a pun. And then I googled him. I borrowed a few library books this afternoon, including one that caught my eye as I was walking to the counter The Rough Guide To The Brain. I'd quickly flipped through it and clocked a picture of Mr Gage and his iron rod.

    I only remember Zwingli cos of his funny name. I was a lackadaisical scholar but Luther's integrity penetrated even my foggy brain. It's hard to believe we didn't cover it at the time but I was greatly saddened when I read his The Jews And Their Lies years and years later.

  4. Obscure "jokes" a speciality. Gage was a fascinating man, and understandably wanted to move on from being the guy who had the iron rod through his head. He ended up as a stagecoach driver in South America or somewhere. They have his skull - with remarkable hole, of course. I have visions of the poor guy in South America being tailed by scientists waiting for him to die so they can study him. No wonder he was reported to have a short- fuse after the accident.

  5. I had an Irish history teacher at school who always told us two things; the Swedish town I lived in was boring and that she would sell out and move back as soon as she could, get some goats and raise more. She was the only teacher with personality in town.

  6. If all she wanted to do was raise goats in the middle of nowhere then I'd have thought she'd have had a fairly high boredom threshold. Did you grow up outside Uppsala? I've never been but I think it looks pretty interesting.