The Wind in the Willows

I don’t know: a kids’ book of joyriding, biffing chaps, hoodwinking old washerwomen, cross-dressing, prison-breaking, fare-dodging, horse-stealing. Is this any sort of read for a child?

Of course it is! Not least for Ernest Shepard‘s exquisite sketches. And the rather lovely Piper at the Gates of Dawn – total hippy, trippy Pink Floyd; I’m sure Syd felt that too.

Indeed, a jolly good yarn for the non-mollycoddled. And a chance to enjoy the adventures of a water vole (for that’s what Ratty is) before we drive the species to extinction. The British Wildlife Centre reports a 90% decline in the last seven years. I continue to be overwhelmed with disgust at these sort of kill figures. It’s not the wind that’s in the willows but the housing estates, cats, pesticides, fishing tackle, mink, roads… all the deadly paraphernalia of industrial civilisation.

Run for your life, Ratty. (But there’s nowhere to run to.)

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