‘Heidi’ by Johanna Spyri (Review: Part One – Up in the Mountains)

a1b47-bus[The camera fades in from black to reveal a large coach driving slowly up a mountain road.  Outside, the sky is a brilliant blue, and the alpine pastures a vivid green.  Inside the coach, a dozen or so passengers are chatting, or looking out of the window, as ‘The Sound of Music’ plays over the speakers…]

Lizzy:  Can we change the music?  Austria was last year…  Have you got anything Swiss?

[Gary, the driver, stops the song in mid-warble and puts on a different CD.  After a few seconds of silence, the passengers are met by a sudden burst of yodelling…]

Stu: [hastily] We’re nearly there – perhaps we can do without the music, after all…

[The coach approaches a village, then drives through a small collection of houses, pulling to a stop outside a building with the words ‘Hotel Maienfeld’ written in Gothic script above the main door.  As the passengers traipse off the coach, Gary stops the last of them of them as he is about to get off.]

Gary: When do you want me to come back for you?
Tony: Oh, we won’t stay too long. [He glances at his watch.]  It’s just gone one now, so shall we say three?
Gary: Not a problem, I’ll be back for you all then. [He prepares to move off.]
Tony: [shouting from outside the coach] What are you going to do, anyway?
Gary: I got a call from Dürrenmatt, something about an old lady and some money – not really sure what he’s on about really, but I’d better go and check it out, you know what he’s like after a couple of drinks…  [He waves.]  OK, 1955 here I come!

[As Tony and the other passengers quickly move out of the way, Gary starts the engine up.  Instead of reversing, though, the coach makes a groaning sound before gradually disappearing into thin air.]

Caroline: Sounds like the time circuits are playing up again. [turning to Tony]  You really should get Gary to take it in for a service.
Tony: Well, I’ll have a word with the Doctor next time I see him. [He looks around.]  Now, where are they?  I told them we were on a tight schedule…  Ah, here they come!

[Tony points to the path leading up the hill, where two figures can be seen walking down.  A sprightly old man is leading a little girl by the hand, and as they spot the visitors, the girl waves excitedly, running ahead.]

Heidi[jumping excitedly, her darks curls bouncing around] Hello, hello, I’m Heidi, and [pointing back at the old man] that’s my grandfather!  Thank you for coming, thank you, thank you!  We’re going to eat soon, in a real restaurant, with real white bread rolls!
Lizzy: [aside, to Caroline] She’s even more annoying in real life than she is in the book…

[Heidi’s grandfather reaches the visitors, and Tony steps forward and shakes his hand.]

Tony: Nice to meet you finally, we’ve all been looking forward to our visit.
Grandfather: Well, let’s eat first, and then we’ll go for a little walk.  [He gestures towards the hotel.]  I did let them know you’d all be coming, I’m surprised nobody’s here to greet you.
Stu: I’ll just pop in and see if I can find someone…

[Stu goes into the hotel, and the visitors chat with Heidi and her grandfather while they’re waiting.  Heidi bounces up to Lizzy several times, chattering away; each time Lizzy slips away quietly when the girl gets distracted.  Vishy is absorbed in conversation with Grandfather – by the movements he’s making, he appears to be teaching the old man the rudiments of cricket.  Caroline wanders around the small square aimlessly, until she stands in something rather unpleasant…]

Caroline: [angrily] What is that?
Grandfather: Well, there are a lot of goats around here…
Caroline: [taking off her shoe and examining it].  I don’t think that’s what it is.  It smells different, fleshier…

[Stu comes out of the hotel, pale and anxious.]

Stu: I think you should come and have a look at this…

[Tony, Caroline, Vishy and Grandfather follow Stu into the hotel.  Once inside the building, the GLM5light disappears almost completely.  Their footsteps echo through the dusty hallway, and cobwebs can be seen in the corners of the rooms.]

Tony: [turning to grandfather] I thought this was the best hotel in the village…
Grandfather: [worried] This is… unusual.  There’s always someone here during the day.  And the owners are very clean and tidy…
Vishy: I have a very bad feeling about this…
Caroline: [nodding] Yep, I’m having flashbacks to another time we wanted to eat out…
Stu: Another Malone special?  Let’s get out of here before…

[Suddenly, they hear shouting from outside.  The group quickly leaves the hotel and rejoins the others.  Heidi is jumping up and down with joy, landing each time on Lizzy’s foot, and the object of her happiness can be seen coming down the path.  A young boy runs towards them, exhausted, staggering the last few metres before collapsing into Grandfather’s arms.]

Heidi: Peter! Peter! [She skips around the boy and her grandfather, ignoring her grandfather’s signs to be quiet.]
Grandfather: [holding Peter’s shoulders] What’s going on?  Why are you running?  Where is everyone?
Peter: [looking into Grandfather’s face] Spiders!  It’s the spiders!  The spiders are coming!

[As one, the visitors turn around and glare at Tony.]

Tony: [weakly] Perhaps we should just skip lunch, then…

What does Peter mean by ‘the spiders’?
Where are all the people?
Has Tony taken the bloggers on yet another disastrous GLM excursion?
Will Heidi ever stop dancing around in circles?

Find out in Part Two, very soon…

16 thoughts on “‘Heidi’ by Johanna Spyri (Review: Part One – Up in the Mountains)

    1. Marina Sofia – Well, there are a couple of parts to come, so there may well be bells at some point 😉 I think we’re at the other end of the country to you, though!


  1. I tell you something, Tony. Heidi had better stop jumping on my foot, and pronto! I heard that she’s arachnophobic, and Mr Gotthelf owes me a favour …..


    1. Lizzy – Well, she is a five-year-old, after all 😉 I can’t promise that your feet will fare any better over the next couple of installments either…


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