There are those among you who are too young to have ever watched the TV cartoon titled ‘The Adventures of Gulliver’, and therefore miss any reference to the character “Glum”.
The show was a 1968 production by Hanna-Barbera Productions, and was based on the popular novel Gulliver’s Travels (by Jonathan Swift), which detailed the travels of Gary Gulliver and his named dog, who end up shipwrecked on the fictional island Lilliput.
Please note that Gulliver is the traditional Englishman muzungu of the days of our upbringing and someone’s colonial devices, who is adventurous, smart, resourceful, lucky, strong and all those other adjectives we came to associate with these great people. And the people in Lilliput were little midgets just a few centimetres high, even though they were also white and apparently caucasian, and appeared to have the same trappings as Gulliver and his people (clothes, royalty, cities with fountains, and so on and so forth).
The politics of the two types of people aside, I distinctly remember that Glum fellow because even at my tender age back then he irritated me very greatly for always taking a defeatist attitude, before I even knew the phrase existed.
I was only a child when I first watched ‘The Adventures of Gulliver’ and even then I detested people like Glum.
Now I am an adult and the cartoon is not showing on any television station near me, but the keenness with which he comes to memory is stark because of our social media arguments and discussions.
Below are a few choice comments that Glum constantly made every time he made an appearance:
“It will never work!”
“We’re never gonna make it!”
“You will never do it!”
“Don’t be too sure!”
“I wouldn’t be too sure…”
“This will never stop the flood…”
“Oh no, not again!”
“Told you he’d never make it…”
“It’s all my fault!”
“It’s me to blame…”
“Like I said before, we’re lost!”
“This is terrible!”
You can watch them all here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqALm_rmM1g
It was obvious why he was named Glum. But just in case the viewer was slow to catch on, the producers designed him such that his facial expression was always downcast (glum). Plus, they positioned a floppy hat over his head in a manner that covered his eyes so that you could tell that he didn’t have a good view of things as they really stood.
To make matters worse, his head was sunk deep into his shoulders as if he was engaged in a non-stop shrug.
You had to dislike the fellow.
Regardless of what the situation was, that little, small-minded, depressing, negative Lilliputian called Glum quickly declared the most negative mantras. He always spoke up before the others could discuss at length, which in a way was good because they could then get past him and out of whatever pickle they found themselves in.
That was the good side to the cartoon – regardless of what situation Gulliver and his people were in, Glum quickly identified and declared doom and hopelessness but they always pulled out and arrived at a happy ending.
Even when we got used to that, we still found Glum to be irritating, depressing and to be avoided; which strategy came to me over the weekend, during a number of social media arguments and “discussions” and “debates”, so I slid off to re-visit ‘The Adventures of Gulliver’, off the mighty internet.
Glum, unfortunately, does not exist today only in that old cartoon and locked away in TV Reel canisters; the fellow is re-incarnated in very many people with access to the internet, smartphones, and apps like WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook.
Whether it’s a Rolex Festival or Uganda appearing well on an international stage, the disciples of Glum are rather too active around us.
If we had mute buttons back then I’d have activated it every time I saw Glum’s low dipped cap begin to move but as I told some friends over the weekend, we have many ways of dealing with Glum today, just as Gulliver and his mates did back then in cartoonland:
First, make sure there is no more than one Glum in your entourage or your surroundings – and that’s only if that character must exist.
Then, ensure they don’t become too senior or influential; that way, they can declare doom and negativity all they want provided your leader can push ahead with those who believe in the mission at hand.
And, crucial to the general plan, keep Glum’s floppy hat over his or her eyes so that they don’t see too much of what is happening around you – giving them less to be negative about.
Keep Glum at the back of the group rather than the front, so that they don’t get too much attention. And, most of all, stay focused on your mission and perspective, and on top of your horse; DO NOT, under any circumstances, descend to Glum’s level.
Suppress your inner Glum, and when your chum or the random person next to you on Twitter or in a WhatsApp group can’t suppress theirs, steer clear of them.
Instead, be the Gulliver.
After writing this I found another, more scholarly article on this fellow here. Enjoy that.