Thursday, 22 September 2011

Tiddly om pom pom

Joan Lamburn's The Mushroom Pony is one of those truly bonkers stories. It's about a foal whose mother has eaten a magic mushroom (yes, really), and as a result the foal can fly. The book was published in the 1940s, so I guess that magic mushroom didn't have quite the connotation that it does now - or perhaps it did, to a select few, and Joan Lambourn was incredibly subversive.  It is impossible for me, at any rate, to read the book without having the alternative meanings hovering about, particularly when I read the dedication:

To Alyse... and Harry... Who know how Magic Mushrooms grow


Which makes me want to rush out and find them and ask what exactly their familiarity with mind altering substances was.


The book is about Pansy, a mare who eats a magic mushroom.  She then has a foal (Joan, whilst subversive, holds to 1940s views on the process of mating: it is simply not mentioned. Pansy has three foals, but there is no mention of any stallion. I did wonder if the magic mushroom was responsible, but it is not. P has two foals before she spots the MM.)  Pansy's next foal, Clippety Clop, has wings on his feet: rather sweet little wings, as drawn by Phyllis Ginger:



Pansy is sad as her foals keep being taken away from her, but Clippety Clop's wings are a big help in keeping him around.  Pansy of course can talk, and not only that, sing.  There is a lullaby quite early on in the book, complete with music.  I've never thought of horses as having any particular singing voice (though Alan Garner's unicorn Elidor does, and I've always thought of that as more a high sort of keening rather than a particular voice).  If they do, then Pansy was a soprano. Gosh, this piece is high.  I have had a couple of quick goes at singing it, which was not a thing for the faint hearted to listen to as I need time to warm up to get above an E these days.  It's a sweet tune, though in neither go so far have I been able to make a sensible fitting in of the words on the last line.


One last oddity: the book doesn't have a dustjacket, but it does have the front flap. Why? Why on earth would you keep just that bit?

4 comments:

Sue Howes said...

Ha ha ha! You finally got a copy of this. It is completely mad isn't it?

Christina Wilsdon said...

This sounds delightfully bizarre. And I'm so glad you think the front jacket flap thing is weird because--this summer we stayed in a cottage that held a large collection of hardcover books put there for guests' reading pleasure, but not a single book had a dustjacket: Each book contained only the front jacket flap tucked in between the front cover and the first page. We thought this was really, really strange. Do people just keep the front flap for use as bookmarks? Why not just stick an index card into the book and keep the dustjacket, fer cryin' out loud?

Jane Badger said...

It certainly is. The author's family is probably going to rise up now and tell me she was a pillar of the church and the mushroom is simply unfortunate, but I prefer my mental picture of a subversive Miss Marple figure flitting hither and yon in the forest.

Christina - yes, the front flap thing is very, very odd. Can only think it was a way of keeping the blurb with the book, whilst lending the library that "antiquarian book look".

HTC In Pakistan said...

hey this book is amazing.. so helpful information in it..