Thingumy and Bob are two shy little creatures who arrive in Moominvalley carrying a mysterious suitcase. They’re a private pair, preferring to keep themselves to themselves and even speaking their own special language.
They have a habit of taking things that don’t belong to them, but they mean no harm and usually return an item if they can see it’s sorely missed by its owner.
Thingumy and Bob are very small – even smaller than Little My. In fact, they’re so small that when they first arrive in Moominvalley, Moominmamma mistakes them for mice. They are almost always holding hands and you will never see one without the other. They’re practically identical in appearance, but you can tell them apart by the little red cap that Thingumy wears.
“They talk in a rather peculiar way, switching around the first letters of words in a sentence.”
They like to keep their plans private and talk in a rather peculiar way, switching around the first letters of words in a sentence. For example, ‘I can fell smood’ means ‘I can smell food’ and ‘pot a wity’ means ‘what a pity’. At first, Sniff thinks they must be speaking a foreign language. Luckily a visiting Hemulen who is surprisingly good at listening understands them right away.
Thingumy and Bob are very nervous and shy, which makes it all the more impressive that they steal the King’s Ruby from the Groke, having recognised it as being special for more than just its value. Other things go missing in Moominvalley after their arrival, most notably Moominmamma’s handbag, but luckily Thingumy and Bob decide to return it when they see how unhappy Moominmamma is without it.
The secretive pair like to hide themselves away when they’re frightened – good hiding places include the potato cellar or under the carpet – and they prefer to sleep in a drawer (or a nice handbag with four little pockets…) than a bed.
Thingumy and Bob first appear in Finn Family Moomintroll (1948) and later in the Moomin comic strips.
A little-known fact about the duo:
In the original Swedish, the characters are called Tofslan and Vifslan – echoing the names Tove and Vivica, for Vivica Bandler who was the first woman that Tove Jansson fell in love with.
Thingumy and Bob quotes:
- ‘And they began to wander down to the valley talking in the strange way that Thingumies and Bobs do talk. (It isn’t clear to everyone but the main thing is they understand one another.)’ (Finn Family Moomintroll, 1948)
- “You must be fair. Particularly as Thingumy and Bob can’t see the difference between right and wrong. They were born like that and can’t help it.” (Finn Family Moomintroll, 1948)
- “Thingumy and Bob think the Contents is the most beautiful thing in the world, but the Groke just thinks it’s the most expensive.” (Finn Family Moomintroll, 1948)
- “Thingumy and Bob have reasoned correctly, but they have acted wrongly.” (Finn Family Moomintroll, 1948)
We’ve made a Moomin personality quiz that reveals which Moomin character you are. The quiz is available in English, Finnish and Swedish!
In this second part of our series, we take a look at the diverse gender roles in Moominvalley and queer themes in Tove Jansson’s life.
Sniff is good-natured, loyal, excitable, and eager to join in any mission, but his taste for adventure is not often matched by his bravery…