PARENTS

Achtung Baby Or Grimm Up North

10/08/2010 16:31 | Updated 22 May 2015

As a child I was terrified of the Bermuda Triangle. I had no idea where or what it was but sleepless nights were had fretting over it.

When not agonizing over how to survive another day without being swallowed up into nothingness somewhere between Oldham Town Centre and the North Atlantic Ocean, I was keeping an eye out for Triffids. Thinking back, I wonder at the reasoning of parents who denied me Top of the Pops and Monty Python's Flying Circus but indulged me with Day of the Triffids and War of the Worlds!

I had cause to contemplate my childhood fears, not (yet) on a comfortable leather couch, but reading with Finje.

As part of the continuing saga of encouraging Finje to speak English, I will now only read bedtime stories in English.

She had survived Struwwelpeter with no night terrors about thumb amputations (yet), so I decided it was time to step things up a bit from "Mr Tickle". I was jollied on by the recent comment from Maurice Sendak, author of "Where the Wild Things Are". When asked about the children who may find the imminent film version of his book too scary, his comment was:

"If they can't handle it, go home. Or wet your pants. Do whatever you like."

Right then, time for The Brothers Grimm.

It's hardly surprising, given the extent of grimness involved in German children's literature, that they carry the Gene of Seriousness. But, and this is the salient point, the harshness of these tales surprised me 30-odd years on. I had no recollection of it. I had loved them. Hansel and Gretel, one of my favourites, I'm pretty sure never caused me to suffer from abandonment issues or the desire to shove anyone into a burning oven (well, maybe that ex-boss...).

Cinderella was first up. Conditioned as one is these days, to political correctness, I admit to a certain feeling of torment reading the words "for at this ball the prince would choose a bride", but I figured I'd straighten that out at a later date.

I need not have concerned myself with such minor things as filling my daughter with a sense of self-worth and dignity. As the story came to an end, Cinderella happily married to her handsome prince, all Finje had to say was,

"But Cinderella isn't her name! She's Ashenputtel."

I fought back with, What did Cinderella say to the photographer? Some day my prints will come!

She didn't get it.

More:

Achtung Baby
Suggest a correction