Monday, 16 July 2012

The best photo of the best caveboy

the book:

Stig of the Dump by Clive King

published 1963 chapter 1



[Barney is playing in a chalkpit, falls into a cave, and sees something moving in the corner]
Something, or Somebody, had a lot of shaggy black hair and two bright black eyes that were looking very hard at Barney.
‘Hullo!’ said Barney.
Something said nothing.
‘I fell down the cliff,’ said Barney.
Somebody grunted.
‘My name’s Barney.’
Somebody-Something made a noise that sounded like ‘Stig’….
It got up and moved towards Barney in the light. Barney was glad to see it was Somebody after all.  ‘Funny way to dress though,’ he thought, rabbit skins round the middle and no shoes or socks.’

observations: Isn’t this just the best photograph ever? Stig is everybody’s favourite Ancient Briton, and the book is a childhood classic in the UK, much-loved, and in print continually since 1963. Clive King wrote quite a few books, but everything else is completely forgotten, while Stig will live forever. Some of us can still remember the thrill of reading it for the first time. It is very much a book of its time – 8-year-old Barney goes off for the day playing without anybody really knowing where he is, and it is a bit mysterious – when exactly is Stig meant to date from? Does he live now AND then? How does he get back and forth? No offence, and nobody cares, but Mr King doesn’t seem to have worked out any real details here – he just had a jolly good story, and we are all the better for it.

Links up with: not much really, because Stig was a complete one-off. But there are plenty of entries about people wearing fur – click on the label below.

And these
midsummer fairies have a connection with the photograph – both pictures are from an album from the Builth Wells Historical Pageant of 1909. This has been put online by the National Library of Wales: they have our everlasting gratitude. (The blog is actually looking for books to match the pictures - that’s how good they are.)


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