Uncle Oojah’s Big Annual 1934

Disappearances, kidnappings and a forest scene reminiscent of MacBeth. You could be forgiven for thinking this annual was more of a horror story. In truth it is a simple tale of Christmas mishaps and fun. Uncle Oojah hires a castle to entertain his friends at Christmas and things just get a little out of hand, but all comes right in the end. The ever-unwelcome Lady Eliza puts in a brief appearance and provokes one of the best lines of the book, ”Jimmy-ninnikins, she has found us out!” gasped Uncle Oojah. “This is truly terrible – her handbag is full of onions!”  This is enough of a pretext for any self-respecting kidnapper to stage an immediate abduction. Even Don turns up for an unexpected Christmas visit although little is made of his appearnce and we are still unaware of where he went or why all those years ago. There is nothing of the drama and fantasy of the early 1920s Oojah stories in which Don featured as a major character but it is all good natured fun.

Elsewhere, Binky Bear holds an auction of his guardian’s finest china and Oojah and Jerrywangle assume the role of Shambogies. We also discover that a certain pompous old elephant actually controls the weather through his Weather Works. It all seems pretty arbitrary and the long suffering population of Oojahland get the short-end of the stick as the whimsical pachyderm lurches recklessly from one extreme weather phenomenon to the next.

 For the more active reader there is a chance to draw a Pierrot from squares, make a pretty bungalow or create a rather complicated looking game called ‘A Game of Jolly Faces Out Of The Hat’. Maybe this is two separate activities, I wasn’t really sure. Many such activities in these early 1930s annuals involve cutting out pages or colouring things in. This might explain why the paper pages are more like cardboard and why so few annuals seem to have survived intact. It is certainly a far cry from the heyday of ‘Flip-Flap, The Great Oojah’ but I suppose we all aspire to degree of comfortable banality in the end. The Ovaltine advert is as beautiful as ever.