It’s hard to know where to stand on the tricky issue of updating classics to suit contemporary sensibilities. One argument is to leave them alone. But can the BBC really broadcast The Dambusters in full, complete with Wing Commander Guy Gibson repeatedly bellowing for his dog, “Nigger”? And was it acceptable for my phone just now to autocorrect that to “Nigeria”?
When my children were very young I used to read The Wind in the Willows to them. At one point in the original, Toad buys a gypsy caravan for ten shillings. In this updated children’s version, he paid the absurd sum of 50p.
Children today may have to ask what “ten shillings” means, but one thing’s for certain: in no sense does it mean 50p.