Tuesday, 1 April 2014

PBOTD: 1st April, C Northcote Parkinson - Ponies Plot

C Northcote Parkinson's Ponies Plot is an obvious choice for April Fool's Day, because it is a book in which the ponies tell their own story, but it isn't one of those stories where a pony is subject to humanity's whims until it's rescued. In Ponies Plot, the ponies are very much in charge.

This is what C Northcote Parkinson wrote in the preface to the book:
“In the ordinary run of pony books the story centres on a small girl who dreams of ponies, wants a pony, secures a pony for nothing (saving it from ill-treatment in a gypsy encampment), rides it with growing confidence and ends with First Prize in the Hunter Trials. Among ponies, however, the same story would be told with the pony as hero. Ill-treated and underfed, Blackie dreams about children, wants a child for himself, plans to attract Brenda’s attention, defeats the scheme of a rival pony, saves the girl from drowning, wins over the reluctant parents and finally (guess what?) wins First Prize in the Hunter Trials.”

John Murray, 1965, illus Violet Morgan
In Ponies Plot, the ponies of Daisy Dedleigh-Sirkett's riding school have had enough. I'm sure many of our readers have been to the sort of riding school where you do trail round in deadly circuit after deadly circuit, where the ponies have long since ceased to have any feeling in their sides, and you are about as likely to produce a reaction from them with a gentle squeeze of your calves as the pony is to fly.

Puffin paperback, 1968
The ponies plan to escape through finding suitable parents looking for ponies for their children, but their plans are thrown into disarray when Daisy decides to get married and sell the whole riding school.  The whole thing proceeds in a spirit of manic invention, and ends with a pony going into space. I did say it was manic.

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For more on the author, see his page on my website.

2 comments:

janebadgerbooks said...

You're right, it was bizarre. I preferred it when they returned to earth!

MalteseLizzieMcGee said...

I think it's a 'jumping the shark' moments, because the rest of the book feels quite down to earth and plausible, then HORSES IN SPACE happens. I was quite young when I read it, and even then I questioned the logic of it in the story. I think it took away from the more realistic and serious parts of the book