I thought of a brilliant title for this post at about 6 o’clock this morning; but by seven it had gone – never to return! Alas! But onwards and upwards, because today’s post is about Professor Branestawm. If you don’t know the Prof, he’s a character invented by Norman Hunter who is the epitome of the absent-minded professor; a man who is always inventing things but thanks to the absence of his mind, they always go wrong. He forgets to put the little wiggly thing in which will stop the clocks from chiming, for example – so they go on chiming the hour until they explode. Or else his housekeeper Mrs Flittersnoop accidentally knocks his elixir of life into the waste-paper bin.
The stories are funny in themselves – but what I really liked as a child was the language. There’s a kind of understatedness to the description, as can be seen in this short extract from the story where the prof invents a time machine.
‘On went the machine, but nothing else happened. On and on they whirled, but nothing happened. And it kept on happening over and over again, until everything was so nothing that neither of them could notice anything.
‘Are we there?’ asked the Colonel, getting his breath back and using some of it at once.’
I urge you to catch up with these stories, particularly if you have children in your family who like good writing.
PS incidentally Mark’s nickname at school was Professor Branestawm.