Bom and the Clown
First edition: 1959
Publisher: Brockhampton Press
Illustrator: R. Paul-Höye
Category: Bom Series
Publisher: Brockhampton Press
Illustrator: R. Paul-Höye
Category: Bom Series
On This Page...
Cover from the 1st edition, illustrated by R. Paul-Höye
Endpapers from the 1st edition, illustrated by R. Paul-Höye
Title Page from the 1st edition, illustrated by R. Paul-Höye
It takes place. There's Wuffy gamboling round Bom's legs and tripping him up so that his master sits down with a bump and then the little dog leaps on top of him and licks his face all over. A passer-by observes this and thinking that Bom is being attacked by some stray mutt he grabs Wuffy and flings him into a nearby bush. Bom informs his 'rescuer', a man dressed as a circus clown, that Wuffy is his own dog and that he was only expressing love for his master. The clown's sorry about this and he retrieves the angry dog from the bush. There are formal introductions and we learn that the clown's name is Funny Fred – 'Funny' for short and he demonstrates the reason for this by shaking Bom's hand so hard that it hurts.
"Sorry," says Funny. "I thought I was pumping water for a moment!"
While Bom nurses his squashed hand, Funny turns upside down to walk on his hands with his hat perched on his feet. It turns out that he's currently out of work because he borrowed the ringmaster's elephant so that he could go shopping with a reasonably sized trunk in which to store all his purchases. This claim may not be completely true but it causes Bom to laugh and Funny warms to the little drummer.
"Couldn't we travel together, you with your drum and me with my tricks? We could make a lot of money!"
Bom, who gets a little lonely now and again despite Wuffy's constant presence, agrees to the proposition and they set off although Wuffy-dog doesn't seem very friendly at all with Bom's new acquaintance. Perhaps it's because of his undignified experience at the hands of the clown but, whatever it is, there's animosity present!
The clown's a bit of a poet in true Blyton manner and he demonstrates his prowess with a second song (yes he's already recited one) as they set off together. It appears that things may be starting on the wrong foot though because Funny refers to Huffy, gruffy Wuffy as he sings and Wuffy does not appear to like that at all and when he growls Funny suggests that he might give him away to Old Mother Hubbard. Yes, that's definitely starting on the wrong foot!
They arrive at a village where there's a fair in progress. Funny immediately begins doing what a clown does and everyone claps at his antics as he joins in with the band and then borrows Bom's drum to balance on whilst rolling it around. Wuffy's turned his back on the performance despite the fact that a pile of money is rolling into the clown's hat as it's taken around and the bandsmen aren't very happy either - but that's due to the fact that it was their music to which the clown was performing and they feel he should share his gains. Funny's not having any of that however. He jumps on a nearby bicycle and pedals away at top speed and then when the bandsmen turn on poor Bom, he too races away in the tracks of his friend who has already disappeared.
Bom wanders on and fortunately he happens to come across Funny who's perched on a wall counting the takings. Wuffy immediately starts growling as Bom carries him towards the clown who informs him that he didn't want to share the money with the bandsmen because he wanted it just for himself and Bom. Well, that seems quite a friendly gesture and then the clown demonstrates even more good heartedness because he says he'll keep Bom's share of the money in his pocket just in case the little drummer loses it. Isn't that nice of him? Bom is quite surprised at the enormous pockets the clown has in his trousers and he slips his hand into one. Before Funny can object to any perceived familiarity, Bom feels something big and hard. He pulls at it.
"What's this in here?" he says in surprise.
Funny reaches his hand in and pulls it out then stares in surprise. "Goodness - a TRUMPET! How did that get there?"
It's funny that Funny doesn't know how it got there but he soon has a suggestion. "The trumpeter must have put it in there himself!"
Bom thinks they should go back and ask about it but Funny suggests that it mightn't be too good an idea because the bandsmen might take Bom's drum away from him and put him into prison. The previous five books may have conveyed the fact that Bom is a very innocent and gullible young man who's not too hot at reading between the lines and is usually prepared to accept explanations which more perceptive individuals might doubt.
The friends are together again so how about making a little noise now that another instrument is in their possession? Unfortunately, the combination of instruments plus top-of-the-voice singing scares the ducks on the pond and frightens the sheep and cows in the nearby field and this attracts a red-faced farmer who strides angrily up with an animal which looks very much like a bulldog. As they look very frightening, Bom and Funny decide that the best thing they can do is to run – so they run. They see a car ahead and without a second thought Funny offers the driver some money for a ride then pushes Bom in, gets in himself, and off they go. Unfortunately Wuffy has been left behind because the farmer's dog chose to concentrate on chasing after him.
At the train station of the town they reach, the two refugees leave the car and Funny pays the driver but Bom isn't happy because he doesn't want to catch a train anywhere until he has Wuffy-dog back with him. The clown has an answer - Bom can leave his drum and walk back to look for Wuffy and he'll wait for him at the station. Yes, that seems all right so Bom turns back and sets off down the street that leads through the town. He plods along across fields and over gates but he sees no sign of his dog and then a little girl riding a bicycle comes into view. As she passes by Bom pricks up his ears because from a wicker basket at the front of the bicycle he hears "Wuffy-wuff-wuff!" Well ... Shades of Miss Gulch! Bom sees two big eyes peeping out from under the lid of the basket so he races after the girl –
"Hey, stop! You've got my dog!"
She comes to a halt and Wuffy leaps out of the basket straight into Bom's arms. What a happy moment. Apparently the girl had found him limping along the road so she had picked the dog up to care for him and now she's so glad that his owner has been found. Bom stares after her as she cycles off waving to him -
"Now there's a nice girl for you. I wish she was my friend."
He takes Wuffy to a stream and bathes his sore paw then bandages it up and eventually they make their way back to the railway station to rejoin Funny the clown. Unfortunately it's not always easy to find Funny because he has a habit of disappearing and Bom ends up sitting on a seat all alone with Wuffy. He sings one of his songs and this attracts one of the railway-porters who informs him that Funny has gone off to an orchard to get some apples. Well, that's something useful to know so Bom departs the station to track down his friend but they don't have to go far because they meet Funny on the way. He's walking towards them and bowling the drum by hitting it with a stick as if it were a hoop. Bom doesn't like such treatment of his pride-and-joy so he reprimands the clown (very lightly) and goes to strap the drum on so that once again he can be "Bom, the Little Drummer Boy" in his entirety. Perhaps the drum gives him confidence because when Funny thinks he'll keep hold of the stick in case Wuffy bites him Bom threatens to throw him over the hedge and the clown quickly tells him that he was 'only joking'.
Now what? Bom finds that he can't lift his drum off the ground and do you know why? It's full of apples! Funny has taken them from Mrs. Blossom's orchard while she was asleep against a tree. Bom's nothing short of furious and he begins to suspect his new friend's quality of character. If Funny won't return the apples then Bom will - but a nagging problem arises. Bom himself is 'On the Run' and if an adversary is aware of this then that adversary has the perfect weapon to use when he wishes to have his own way. Bom's heart beats fast as he hears the clown say in a rather queer voice –
"Aren't you the drummer who ran away from the toy fort?"
Bom stares at him in horror. His secret is known and now the clown is in charge. Bom has to go with him to Ho-Ho Village with Funny bowling the laden drum along and thinking of all the money he can make from the apples. Bom happens to have an Aunt living in the village and when he says that he feels like visiting her, the clown agrees because he thinks they might be able to unload the apples onto her. They reach Aunt Twinkle's bright little cottage and there she is on the doorstep looking as plump and as cosy as ever but she's very concerned when Funny tells her that Bom is in trouble. She invites them both in for ginger buns and then the devious clown explains -
"You see, he owes me a lot of money and in order to pay his debt he has collected a pile of apples which he hopes to sell to you. I would not like to tell a policeman of course ..."
Aunt Twinkle is horrified and naturally she offers to buy all of the apples so Bom tips them out from the drum and then while Funny is counting them out he seizes the opportunity and starts writing a message to his aunt on the wall behind the clown – 'I'm in trouble Aunt Twinkle. This clown is bad. Please help me.' Standing in front of the scribbling he waits for his aunt to pay for the apples then he putts his drum on and with the clown pushing him in front they exit the cottage with a rather puzzled Aunt Twinkle seeing them off. Goodness! Bom had hardly said 'Goodbye' to her but then she looks up and discovers the notice on the wall. Reading it three times, she realizes what's happened and sits down for a 'think.'
Another notice is featured on a wall and it attracts the clown's attention as he and Bom walk through the market. It's official - he and Bom are 'wanted' by the villagers for stealing a bicycle and a trumpet so it would be a good idea for them to hide - but where? Funny pulls Bom through a dirty yellow door where one of his shady friends lives and asks for assistance from a Mr. Sly who is willing and able to help them provided his palm is crossed with silver. That ritual takes place and then Mr. Sly offers them a donkey suit. The idea is that the two of them can put it on and make their escape in disguise so to speak and as there's nothing else that can be done, Bom joins Funny in the skin and somehow manages to include his drum with Wuffy inside it. With the clown heehawing loudly the donkey makes for the door and into the street. The little drummer feels very odd with his hands on Funny's shoulders and stumbling along inside the donkey suit. Down the road they trot with the clown really getting into the swing of their deception by singing a loud donkey song and beginning to gallop along – gallop-a-gallop, trittitty-trot. They're getting away but wait a minute ... someone has shouted "STOP!" Bom nearly falls over in fright because he recognizes that voice. It's none other than Captain Bang from the toy fort. Bang and his soldiers have been after Bom ever since he ran away so now what's going to happen?
The soldiers close around the donkey and then Wuffy begins barking. Bang orders his men to arrest the donkey and this scares Bom and Funny so much that they both take to their heels – in opposite directions. The donkey-skin splits open and Funny gallops off with the head and forelegs looking most peculiar! Fortunately all the soldiers chase after the clown and leave Bom sitting on the ground in the other half of the skin. Hush, Bom, don't make a sound ... just wait until everything is quiet and then you can rush off to Aunt Twinkle's place. But NO! Maybe he won't be able to do that because something else has happened. Bom has been discovered! An enormous voice yells out –
"AVAST THERE YOUNG FELLER. Come with me!"
Just as Lois Lane is always rescued at the last moment by Superman we have Bom's friend, Skipper Heave-Ho, assisting likewise. Yes, the burly Skipper had come searching for him because after Aunt Twinkle had thought about Bom's message she had decided the best thing to do was to contact him as she knew he was visiting friends in Ho-Ho Village that very day. Wuffy's barking had drawn Heave-Ho's attention to the donkey and now they are all together once again. Tears are running down Bom's cheeks as he realizes that he's safe at last with the kind Skipper who's big and ugly enough to bode no nonsense at all when it comes to safe-guarding his little friend. With Wuffy jumping up to lick the man's big hand they make for Aunt Twinkle's house and soon they're sitting down with the kettle singing cheerily on the fire and the smell of buttered toast all round them. Skipper Heave-Ho hears all about Bom's adventure and warns him never to get mixed up again with rascals such as Funny the clown and Bom heartily agrees with him.
It's time now for a little soothing drum music accompanied by Bom's talented trilling, the Skipper's booming base, and Aunt Twinkle's womanly warbling. The room is filled with good cheer and this brings to a close another thrill-packed interlude in Bom's life. Whatever happens next to the little drummer will be duly recorded in the following book which sounds full of promise because it's entitled: Bom Goes to Magic Town!
This relates to Wuffy-dog: - Imagine opening the door to a visitor who jumps at you and licks your face all over! I think there'd be a disgusted reaction but in the case of dogs it's often permitted so I have to include it in the 'Quite Weird' category!
'Miss Gulch' seized a dog in the The Wizard of Oz and took it away in her bicycle basket.
A 'Mr. Sly' appeared in the 5th Bom book (Bom and the Rainbow) but he must be a different person because he looks more like a gnome about the ears and has a white beard as opposed to the black one sported by the Mr. Sly in this book.
Bom and the Clown was published in 1959.
Like Noddy, Bom appeared in Enid Blyton magazines and also in Annuals and the small Strip Booklets.
Don't look yet! This is a question which I think few could answer without checking back – What is Funny the clown's other name?