Jul 17, 2012

by English Muse


“There you are,” said Bill. “There’s nothing this Puddin’ enjoys more than offering a slice of himself to strangers.”
“How very polite of him,” said Bunyip, but the Puddin’ replied loudly-

“Politeness be sugared, politeness be hanged,
Politeness be jumbled and tumbled and banged.
It’s simply a matter of putting on pace,
Politeness has nothing to do with the case.”

“Always anxious to be eaten,” said Bill, “that’s this Puddin’s mania. Well, to oblige him, I ask you to join us at lunch.”

Hello! This is Naomi Bulger again, coming to you from Melbourne, Australia.

Meet Albert the never-ending pudding, Australia’s first literary anti-hero. Created in 1918 by controversial and bohemian artist Norman Lindsay (better known for painting sexually explicit and often disturbing nude scenes), Albert is the grumpy main character of The Magic Pudding, a much-loved Australian children’s classic.

The book is not only a literary but also an artistic treasure. Its 95 original illustrations are held at the State Library of New South Wales, and they employ unusually diverse media and style throughout the book. The original cover, for example, is a water-colour with ink around the edges. But the title page is different, a kind of fine penmanship; while the page that follows is a looser style of drawing with a wax crayon, and inside you will also find pencil drawings. Albert the pudding has many powers. First and foremost, the more you eat of him the more food you get. (“Me an’ Sam has been eatin’ away at this Puddin’ for years, and there’s not a mark on him,” Bill Barnacle the sailor said.)

Second, Albert can be any flavour of pudding you choose (“Bill cut slices of steak-and-kidney from the Puddin’. After that they had boiled jam roll and apple dumpling, as the fancy took them, for if you wanted a change of food from the Puddin’, all you had to do was whistle twice and turn the basin around.”)

He can also talk (and does so frequently and rudely most of the time), and runs around (and away) remarkably fast on a pair of spindly legs.

As you might expect, poor old Bill Barnacle and his friends spend a lot of time protecting and rescuing the pudding from the puddin’-thieves (“that snooting, snouting scoundrel, the Possum, and his snoozing, boozing friend the Wombat”) who want all this free food for themselves.

It is a joyous, raucous, irreverent delight.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 17th, 2012 at 6:00 pm. It is filed under Books. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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3 Responses to “Antipodean dispatch: rude food”

  1. Luli says:

    The illustrations are perfect!!!

  2. Lilliana says:

    I had this book as a child (still do actually)! My dad lived in Australia for 25 years so I got to know a lot of these stories.

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