The time comes in life when one thinks ‘now is the time to read Lord of the Rings, cover to cover’. You find that comfy armchair, brew a pot of leaf tea, light the fire and settle down with Part I, ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’.
All is going well. You’re surprised at how old Frodo is when he starts his journey, but there’s adventure, danger, 2nd breakfast, laughter and intrigue.
Then there’s Tom Bombadil.
I can’t be the only one who’s been stopped in his tracks by the bouncy, yellow-booted singer of odd songs. In fact I know that I am not. When the BBC produced their audio adaptation they cut him out, as did Peter Jackson. You could imagine that if this book were written today the editor would be sitting down with the author saying ‘John – this Tom Bombadil stuff? It just ruins the pace. Let’s skip to the Prancing Pony and leave Tom to his faldi-diddlying’.
Last night, however, I decided to brave this section once more. I was determined to find meaning here, to discover the purpose of such an enigmatic and seemingly slow movement.