Bom at the Seaside
First edition: 1961
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
"Sleep little Bom, you're safe with me and I'll look after little Wuffy too!"
Bom still has his cold when he wakes the next morning and so has Wuffy.
That's Bom sneezing and Skipper Heave-Ho tells him that Doctor Make-em-Well is calling to have a look at him. The good doctor duly arrives and we find that he's yet another of the many songsters on the Enid Blyton list of talented people. He demonstrates his prowess with a little tune about the bandages and medicines he has for the various girls and boys on his rounds and then he uses his hat and a little magic to produce a plate of cooked meat and bones which turns out to be the medicine that Wuffy needs. This is some doctor because the "medicine" for little Bom is a bag of toffees and a glass of lemonade which of course contains the magic ingredients that will effect the cure. He also imparts some very welcome advice –
"When the patients are better, take them to the seaside for some sea air and wind – that's the next medicine for them!"
He departs to visit Big-One the Bunny and now the title of the book can be fulfilled.
A few days pass and when the patients have recovered, Heave-Ho, Bom, and Wuffy, catch a bus to the seaside and the picture that greets them when they arrive must be a clue to the location. Surely it's Dover because there are the great White Cliffs in the background. This is the first time that Bom and Wuffy have experienced the sea but all the same I had to check to make sure about that because I felt there must have been a glimpse of it somewhere in one of the previous books when Bom was wandering around all over the place. No there wasn't so this is Bom's initiation and he's a little scared of the vast expanse but Wuffy isn't and he leaps out of the bus, races down to the beach, and jumps into the water with a splash. The Skipper hires a tent and puts it up and then they're ready for anything although Bom isn't quite ready to allow a ginger-headed boy to saunter up and start beating his precious drum. The Skipper puts a stop to that however and he chases the intruder, together with a few other curious spectators, right away. The boy is persistent though because he creeps up again, grabs Bom's drum, and runs off with it but he's reckoned without Wuffy-dog who gives chase and trips the lad up so that the drum falls and rolls back to its owner.
Now it's Fun, Fun, Fun! Skipper Heave-Ho teaches Bom how to swim and that young chap has the time of his life in the sea with Wuffy who is an excellent swimmer and able to go a long way out. That naughty ginger-haired boy is still a nuisance though because he creeps up to Bom's drum again one afternoon but this time he gets a terrible shock when he hears barks and growls coming from inside the object of his desire. He gives a yell and races away in fright and I think it's easy to guess what has happened because barks and growls come from dogs and if a dog happened to be hiding inside the drum ... then it all becomes clear.
The usual activities take place and a very popular one on the seaside agenda is that of covering someone up with sand. One morning the Skipper digs a small hollow for himself and then lies down for a snooze in the sun. Bom, taking his cue from Wuffy who's scraping up bits of sand all over the sleeping form, gets his spade and covers the Skipper until "only his head is showing" - his feet are too if you look at the picture. They run off to buy ice-creams and to watch the Punch and Judy Show and when they return to the beach it's time to say "Goodness Me!" While they were away the tide had come in and risen right up the sand past where the Skipper was buried.
He's gone! So has the tent and Bom's drum. This is a calamity and after Bom and Wuffy have looked all over the place it's time to have a little cry. Bom sits down with Wuffy-dog in a very worried frame of mind and then suddenly he hears his drum playing quite far off – bom-diddy-bom. He hurries towards the noise wondering who it could possibly be and to his surprise he comes across the Skipper who's walking along the foreshore and banging the drum for all he's worth. Bom is so happy that he runs up with Wuffy-dog to hug his friend. The Skipper chides Bom in a friendly manner and calling him a rascal for burying him in the sand but he wasn't in any danger because when the tide came in he didn't just lie there - he was up and away before he even got damp. Everyone's in high spirits now especially as it's time for a really big tea so they're off with Bom banging his drum and singing a song about their latest experience.
As Bom is "on the run" and as this is the last book in the series, there has to be a reappearance of the nemesis – Captain Bang who is in charge of the fort where Bom used to live. During tea which consists of fresh prawns, brown bread-and-butter and ice-creams, the Skipper tells Bom that he took down the tent because a wind was coming up. Suddenly the little drummer notices Wuffy growling and showing all his teeth because a soldier has entered the tea-shop. He comes up to their table and, recognizing Bom, he demands that the little drummer accompany him. Bom snatches up his drum up and makes off at once with the soldier chasing after him but Wuffy-dog does his tripping-up trick again. The man falls down and upsets a table full of cups and saucers so he's immediately grabbed by the waitress who says he'll have to pay for all the smashed crockery. Skipper Heave-Ho tears after Bom and Wuffy-dog and shouts for them in his loud voice but they've disappeared and meanwhile the soldier who has extricated himself from the waitress and the mess on the floor, chases after the Skipper and catches him. That good man allows himself to be caught for the moment so that Bom has more time to get away and when the soldier blows his whistle the notorious Captain Bang appears with a host of his soldiers. Heave-Ho's captor informs Bang that the little drummer is somewhere around and would it be a good idea to take the Skipper in as well?
It's now about time for the Heave-Ho to take the offensive so he acts by performing the old domino trick. You know the one – push down the first in the line and the rest follow in succession. The soldiers seem to be in a bit of a line because soldiers are usually that way inclined and when the Skipper pushes the one next to him they all go down one after the other like ninepins. Captain Bang draws his sword at once although he's a little frightened of his great burly opponent. He orders his men to seize the Skipper but no one volunteers because they're also a little scared of the fierce old seaman. Heave-Ho laughs and walks off to find Bom but where COULD he be? The Skipper hunts everywhere until night falls but to no avail. Are we the readers allowed to know where the little drummer is? It can be revealed that he's hiding in a cave at the bottom of the cliff where the sea is raging around outside. Wuffy-dog is crouched beside his master, ready to rush out at anyone who comes near.
Night falls and the stars come out. Bom and Wuffy sleep till the morn and when they wake ... what do they see? Quite a terrifying sight because Captain Bang's soldiers have come down to the beach for a swim. There they are in their bare skins and togs or undies and, very curiously, they all keep their bear-skin hats on! The soldiers splash around and when they've finished their ablutions they depart but what's this? One is left behind in the water because he has a dose of cramp. Bom sees him from the cave and, being the good little soul that he is, grabs hold of his drum and starts beating it to attract attention despite the very real possibility of being caught and taken away.
BOM-DIDDY-BOM-DIDDY-BOM! Wuffy is barking and Bom adds his voice to the din. It's not working. No one appears so it's up to Bom and Wuffy and do you know what they do? Wuffy-dog fetches a couple of pieces of driftwood and then Bom launches his drum into the water, sits on it, and rows over to the soldier using the wooden-sticks as oars. What a brave little lad he is but then that's Bom all over. Now he's reached the ailing man who is able to keep himself up by holding onto the drum while Bom jumps in to help with Wuffy assisting. On the shore, the scene is being observed by the Skipper who, having heard Bom's drum, has rushed down to the beach to see what he can spy with his telescope.
"I'M COMING, BOM. I'M COMING. HANG ON!"
Heave-Ho rushes to a boat lying on the beach just as the soldiers arrive back after their morning run. He informs them that Bom is out in the sea rescuing one of their own and he warns –
"Don't you DARE talk of taking him prisoner!"
A soldier helps him drag the boat down to the sea and then the Skipper hops in and rows to the rescue. While he's doing that, the fearsome Captain Bang arrives and gives orders when he sees what's going on –
"Drag him (Bom that is) out of the boat! Tie him up and take him back to the fort."
The other soldiers try to stick up for Bom but the Captain is adamant – Bom must be taken prisoner.
Heave-Ho is a pretty perceptive guy and when he sees what's happening, he tells the soldier they've rescued to get out and wade to shore because he, Bom, and Wuffy are going on a nice long row out to sea and they won't be coming back to this particular spot thank-you. That's what happens. The soldier steps into the water still with his bear-skin hat on and the Skipper turns and rows away. Is Captain Bang angry about that? Yes! He shouts and storms and rages but the other soldiers are glad because a kind, brave little fellow like Bom doesn't deserve to be taken prisoner does he?
So, we leave our three friends who are silhouetted against the sky far out on the sea with a glowering Captain Bang shaking his fist at them from the shore. Wave to us Wuffy and bang your drum. Bom – yes, we can just hear you singing -
We're away to sea,
And Wuffy and me.
I'm beating my drum
And you'll hear it say,
We're off and away!'
The sea is so blue,
Won't you come with us?
Oh do – DO- DO!
A-WHOOOOOOSH-OOO is a typical sneeze from the pen of Enid Blyton. Many fans will remember Mam'zelle Dupont's enormous explosions when the St. Clare's girls used sneezing powder on her to great effect.
The White Cliffs of Dover are English icons and have featured in film, tune, and verse for many years. The wartime song about bluebirds over Dover must have brought comfort to millions although I don't think bluebirds are to found anywhere in the country except perhaps in a zoo.
There'll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of DoverA Punch and Judy Show is another English institution which has brought pleasure to children throughout the ages. It's a marionette performance usually held in a little makeshift stage on the beach and a hat is often passed around afterwards for donations.
Tomorrow, just you wait and see
There'll be love and laughter and peace ever after
Tomorrow when the world is free
The shepherd will tend his sheep
The valley will bloom again
And Jimmy will go to sleep
In his own little room again ... ... ...
The restaurant scene: Waitresses don't often grab soldiers but I gather that this young lady was angry enough to try anything. The picture itself breaks new bounds as far as lack of propriety goes - if you look closely!
The soldiers' bear skin hats are, no doubt, modelled on those worn by the Queen's guards. Controversy reigned some years ago when a quota of Canadian black bears were shot to supply new ones so, as the protests get louder, I'm sure they'll have to go!
Cramp, described as an involuntary, painful contraction of the muscles, is what the soldier experienced and he was lucky that Bom came to the rescue otherwise the pain may have not allowed the man to keep himself above water.
I wonder if the boat that the Skipper hijacked, was returned to its rightful owner.
It would have been good to have the series end with Bom's forgiveness and freedom but it looks as if he will spend more of his days on the run from Captain Bang. However, maybe things will even out eventually and, while he's with Skipper Heave-Ho, Bom shouldn't have to worry too much. Another good sign is that in the last picture where Captain Bang is shaking his fist at the fugitive, the two soldiers standing behind him are waving in a friendly manner so if they ever catch up with the little drummer again, old Bang may have difficulty in having his orders carried out.