A surprising amount of people look nothing like who they really are. The little old lady next to you on the bus might actually be the Queen of Sheba. The handsome, tattooed guy at the cash registry in the supermarket might be a shy and poetic elf. Take me for example: to the unsuspecting eye, I might look like an ordinary middle-aged mom, but on the inside, I’m Modesty Blaise.
Modesty never loses her head, no matter what happens. Modesty never gets needlessly anxious. Modesty always knows what to do. She’s sensitive, but always keeps her balance.
To those of you who’re now smirking and thinking that that sounds pretty unlike me: you’re not completely wrong. I’m not as cool as Modesty, but that’s okay. Without her I’d be a reed in the wind, a cow on the ice, a rubber duck on the ocean. She’s helped me keep my grip on many occasions, both trivial and some fairly adventurous. ”What would Modesty do?” I’ve thought, and then I’ve let her steer my actions. Modesty herself doesn’t have any children, but she has been an invaluable support for me as a mother. When the kids had accidents I already knew (after having read innumerable Modesty books and comics) how to pre-empt blood poisoning, prevent snakebites and treat gunshot wounds, stubbed toes and splinters in fingers.
Of course I’m not the only one who likes Modesty. (There are probably a ton of secret Modesties walking the streets all around the world.) A couple of years ago my youngest daughter and I made a journey to London and met up with a bunch of other Modesty-lovers, and were guided around town by an expert in all things Modesty (and all things London, MI5 and MI6; very interesting!)
The man who created Modesty Blaise is called Peter O’Donell, and it’s his 90th birthday today. Congratulations, Mr. O’Donnell, and a deeply felt thank-you for a life with the best internal compass in the world.
PS My daughter, who’d hardly read a line or panel of Modesty before our London trip, became thoroughly educated and got two beautiful limited edition T-shirts in the mail a few days later. Unfortunately none of them in mom-size.
PPS. Those of you who aren’t already familiar with how Modesty came wandering out from the desert as a child, and her career as the leader of a crime syndicate and how she met Willie and Tarrant, can read it here or watch this short video (found via Nattens bibliotek):
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