The Mysterious Bittern


As a child I absolutely adored Fungus the Bogeyman. There was something about the dank and dismal atmosphere that really appealed to me - probably because Raymond Brigg's perpetually brown, slimy-drizzling underground world seemed so similar to the early 1980's Cornwall I grew up in. Today's dreary weather outside reminds me of that book's twilight gloaming. And, in perfect synchronicity, I read that a Bittern has been filmed booming for the first time. The bittern, the most funereal and melancholy of birds, is a creature that has always been lurking in the distant reedbeds of my mind. Aged six, I was mystified by ‘the bogey bittern’ in Fungus the Bogeyman, a drab subterrenean version of the bird, decribed as being ‘Like Surface Bitterns, and like Bogeymen themselves, they are SOLITARY, SKULKING and CREPUSCULAR.’



6 comments:

Brit said...

Fungus's melancholy philosophising had a profound formative effect on me, too.

Also that disgusting rhyme about scab and matter custard.

Gaw said...

After my time, I'm afraid. But a lovely post. I particularly enjoyed 'lurking in the distant reedbeds of my mind'. You could build a poem around that.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Lovely birds, I'd love to see one, but I'm sure I never shall. Fungus was after my time too, I suppose Stig of The Dump was our equivalent.

Kevin Musgrove said...

Bitterns are wonderful birds to see and thrilling birds to hear. And crepuscular is such a fabulous word to set loose amongst giggling children.

I've still got the "Plop-up" book upstairs. The contents of the lavatory are brilliant.

worm said...

Have you seen a bittern Kevin? Amazing if you have! I think there's only something like 50 bitterns in the UK or something like that - they are seriously rare!!!

And as for those of you who have never read it - I recommend it wholeheartedly for your kids - and as a bonus about 20% of the jokes are aimed at adults only, there's all sorts of amusing misquotes and things

JohnA said...

'Flaked Corns'. 'Cloaca Cola'. I adore FTBM. My favourite though is that the Bogeymen, in their inverse world, write only profound graffiti.Back in Yorkshire around 1979 I learned "Yonder all before us lie deserts of vast eternity" from Raymond Briggs rather than Andrew Marvell