Here Comes Pippi…


Happy 70th Birthday this week to loveable anarchic Pippi Långstrump / Longstocking.

The Pippi Långstrump stories are hugely successful and enjoyed by children (and adults) across the globe. So far they have been translated into over 70 languages and the author Astrid Lindgren has sold more than 144 million books.

However, it’s on a personal level I want to say thank you to this mischievous character. Her independent fun-loving free-spirit had me believing anything was possible. Well, maybe not lifting a horse (I never tried!) but I got up to many wild-cap adventures during my childhood, surely influenced by Pippi. IMG_1026

Escaping from nursery aged four being one of my first clear memories! Alas we did not get too far as teachers caught up with myself and merry band of followers en route to the dark mystical wood near the school.

When older in England I often stood in front of Mary, the shop-keeper of our local sweet-shop on Saturday mornings, my pocket money clasped tightly in my fist and fantasied about being able to buy all the sweets to share out amongst my friends. Just like Pippi.

Pippi is naturally fearless just by daring to be herself. She could not imagine being or doing anything else. She does not have a malicious streak in her body, instead she means well all the time although sometimes things do not quite work out. The few times she realises she has done wrong Pippi is mortified and full of remorse.

Isn’t it every child’s dream for a few hours to be totally free from grown-ups, to do things that are not allowed? In her beautifully observed and amusing adventures Pippi makes friends with two other children and introduces them to her wonderful version of the world. These friends, well one in particular is my second reason for my love affair with the Pippi stories.

The two friends are siblings Tommy and Annika – my namesake. There I was, in a book, in a record, same blonde hair, same age, yellow jumper, brown corduroy trousers led safely astray by very original Pippi.

I spent so many hours listening to my record of the stories that at times fiction blended in with reality. Did I or did I not strap scrubbing brushes onto my feet and dance around on a soap-sudded kitchen floor to clean it? I know I often lay non-conformist style on my bed, my feet on the pillow, my head at the end of my bed. Just like Pippi.

At times Tommy and Annika tried to tame this wonderful maverick character; even convincing her to attend school with them for a day. The experiment  does not go not well and Pippi decides school is good for the holidays it grants you!

220px-Astrid_Lindgren_1924Astrid Lindgren felt a close affinity for children; perhaps as a result of being mostly absent for the first years of her own first child’s life as he lived with foster parents far away in Copenhagen whilst she worked in Stockholm. Throughout her life she campaigned for Children’s Rights and was instrumental in the banning of corporal punishment against children. I imagine Pippi’s  exuberance and courage reflected Astrid Lindgren’s own approach to life.

So, Happy Birthday Pippi – you’ve given so much with your larger than life personality, your pigtails, your stomping nature. May we all live as impulsively and free.

“If I have managed to brighten up even one gloomy childhood – than I’m satisfied.”

Astrid Lindgren

11 thoughts on “Here Comes Pippi…

  1. Peter R

    What a wonderful example of the joys of childhood. I was very lucky to have almost the same sort of freedom although, being in Australia, we had to keep an eye out for the assorted “nasties” that could be found in the bush. It’s a shame that the freedom seems to get lost in the hustle and bustle of life. Your post reminds me that we must be careful to preserve it as we get older. Stick with it, and enjoy the liberation it brings.

    1. I think the wilds of Australia would be taking the ‘wild’ element to an extreme level as far as I’m concerned. However, definitely we should never lose the joy and freedom of life and resist becoming restrained by convention and formality.

  2. I used to love reading Astrid Lindgren’s books and watch the films and series on tv when I was younger! Pippi was one of my favourites. She was a role model in many ways.

  3. Mike

    Another uplifting blog. Being of an older generation that was let loose every day during the school holidays this reminds me of a friend who was something like this, and was always the one to lead the rest of us off on some madcap scheme – which ususally turned out to be fun and somewhat daring.

    If you have that same free spirit as Pippi you must try and retain it all your life – we neeed people like Pippi (and you) to be an inspiration to us all and encourge us to take the same approach to life (even though it may be difficult and contrary to our natural inclinations).


    1. Glad you enjoyed the post and great to meet another Pippi fan. It was very interesting reading about Astrid Lidgren’s life as I knew absolutely nothing. She was heavily into animal rights as well. Carol, lovely to have you as a follower.

  4. Mirja

    Pippi is naturally fearless just by daring to be herself. She could not imagine being or doing anything else. She does not have a malicious streak in her body, instead she means well all the time although sometimes things do not quite work out. The few times she realises she has done wrong Pippi is mortified and full of remorse.

    What a wonderful praise to Astrid Lindgren and Pippi! Daring to be ourselves, how true you put this and it goes for children as well as adults. Let us be more free and playful. You changed my plans for two days already through this blog. To the better in my opinion.:)

    So you were an adventurer already at four. That should set you well up for the future.
    Find that open gate or hole in the fence or however you got out to the mystical wood.
    Keep going girl, it is magic.

    1. Mirja, it’s so often we try to conform to what we think others what us to do that we forget what we truly want and sometimes forget who we are – I think that’s why I still love Pippi. No such doubts or self-recrmminations. I hope you have enjoyed your new planned days and may your other days henceforth be lived in the same manner.

      Alas ‘escape from nursery’ was not the last time I got into trouble. Five years later I disappeared for a whole afternoon and evening with a friend, playing in a hay barn. So unlike me to be out of contact and no notice where I was…police were briefly involved in the search before my brother saw my bike outside the barn. Having briefly lost my son in a zoo I now understand the full terror of any parent in such a situation.

    1. Thank you Jacqui, I wrote it from my heart. Too true that we need more children with such a can-do attitude but then I worry that us concerned protective parents sort-of knocked that out of them. Don’t know…but aware that friends in Germany and Scandinavia happily let their 6-year olds walk to school on their own whereas that would be seen as criminal over here.

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