Sunday, 29 May 2011

Just like Ferdinand

Jenny has always likened me to Ferdinand the Bull in the famous children's story. While everyone else is busy go-getting and getting-on, I prefer to sit quietly under a tree and smell the flowers. Or at least ruminate on the meaning of existence and whether it's really true, in every single case, that two and two make four. The really important stuff, in other words.

I've never been especially ambitious. I had no desire to be a mover and shaker, a captain of industry, a cultural icon, or even a glittering celeb. A bit of comfort, a bit of money, a bit of intellectual nourishment and a few friends are all I need.

Everyone expected Ferdinand the Bull to be fierce and frightening so he could star in a bullfight, but he wasn't interested. When he was taken to a bullring, he just sat quietly in the middle of the ring sniffing the flowers in the women spectators' hair. He refused to be fierce and they had to take him back home instead.

At first his mother thought he must be lonely under the cork tree and encouraged him to play with other bulls, but then she realised he was quite happy where he was and left him to it.

And what happened after the bullfight? "For all I know he is sitting there still, under his favourite cork tree, smelling the flowers just quietly."

Ferdinand wasn't always allowed to sit quietly in real life either. Bizarrely, soon after the book was published in 1937, it was banned by several countries on the grounds that it was too pacifist and left-wing. Of course this was a red rag to a bull, and lefties everywhere promptly promoted the book and made it immensely popular.

I can't sit quietly under a tree right now as there's an arctic wind blowing, but I shall sit in my favourite armchair and ruminate. That is, until I feel an urgent need for chocolate.

Pic: Ferdinand the Bull from the Walt Disney film of 1938

23 comments:

Macy said...

Excellent way of avoiding high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes Nick!
Enjoy your wee ruminate

kylie said...

i just had me some chocolate, great choice!

Nick said...

Macy - Yep, a ruminate a day keeps the doctor away.

Kylie - I always say, it's no good trying to ruminate on an empty stomach. Particularly a chocolate-free stomach. But I hope you haven't nicked Megan's Cherry Ripe.

Wisewebwoman said...

Ruminants are lucky to find a partner who will do the moving and shaking. I think I would have joined you if I could have found such a person!
XO
WWW

Grannymar said...

You mean you left the chocolate in the fridge? Big mistake, now you have to get up! :(

Nick said...

W3 - Of course, when I say I do nothing but ruminate, I exaggerate slightly. Well, quite a lot. Well, massively. Rumination doesn't last long in today's hectic world.

Grannymar - I never put chocolate in the fridge. I don't like it too hard. I don't yet have a chocolate stash in each room, but I'm working on it.

nursemyra said...

I like Ferdinand

Nick said...

Myra - So do I. Ferdinand is well cool.

speccy said...

I didn't know about Ferdinand, but I think he's just found a new fan!

A friend of mine was once horrified on my behalf when another pointed out that I'm not ambitious, and couldn't understand why I wasn't upset. Because it's so obviously true!

Chocolate is not meant for the fridge, unless you're on a diet and trying to limit consumption.

Miss Scarlet said...

And what happened after the bullfight?

They probably had him put down for not being economically viable.
Sx

Nick said...

Speccy - What's so wrong with a lack of ambition? What's really horrifying is those over-ambitious people who trample on everyone else to get what they want.

Scarlet - No no, this is a children's book, you can't have anything nasty happening. In real life of course, that's probably exactly what would happen.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I loved that story as a child, but never knew it had been banned anywhere. I used to think of my son as Ferdinand because he was big but very gentle and thoughtful, not aggressive and violent like so many of his playmates.

Nick said...

Heart - I only heard about the ban myself when I looked up the story on Wikipedia. A gentle giant, as they say? You must have been pleased your son wasn't typically macho.

Eryl said...

I've never heard this story before, and I love it. I must immediately share it with my best friend because I know she will too. So thank you, Nick.

I'm not ambitious either, not in a competitive way at least. My only ambition is to make sense to whoever I happen to be communicating with at the time. And I find that the more I sit and ruminate the better I become at that.

Megan said...

Ferdinand is one of the first books I remember my mother reading to me. Children of flower children got some great start-up literature, man.

And I'm not kidding.

Nick said...

Eryl - Glad to have been of service, ma'am! It's a wonderful story. That's a great ambition, to talk sense to other people! I must say you always make good sense to me.

Megan - Great start-up literature indeed. But Jenny and I didn't discover it until we were working in a bookshop in London in the early eighties. I may have been a flower child but my parents definitely weren't.

tony said...

Red Bull Rules!

Nick said...

Tony - Very good! Unfortunately a lot of Blue Bulls are currently getting the upper hand....

Rummuser said...

Welcome to the club of Ferdinands. "Sitting silently, doing nothing, spring comes and the grass grows by itself." ~ Zen.

Liz said...

Yes, I can see you as a Ferdinand.

Nick said...

Liz - I'm very Ferdinand-like. Why are all these other people rushing around like lunatics trying to impress everyone? Why not just sit and enjoy the view occasionally?

secret agent woman said...

One of my favorite children's books! I am distinctly lacking in ambition. I want to be reasonably competent - a decent mother, a decent partner, a decent therapist and so on, but have no need to being the best.

Nick said...

Ramana - I know that Zen saying very well. Sometimes busting a gut trying to push everything along is just a waste of time.

Secret Agent - I agree, doing things competently and enjoyably is preferable to doing them superbly but burning yourself out in the process.