Who’s Afraid of Mr McGregor?

Who’s afraid of Mr McGregor? Everyone, that’s who! I have suffered from McGregophobia from an early age, and now my sons seem to have it too. It’s clearly genetic, for I’ve never been able to read them the story. What on earth possessed CBeebies to make a show of this tale, I’ll never know – my sons cry and claw the sofa in terror whenever the theme tune comes on. Am I alone, or is Mr McGregor the most sinister figure in literature?

Tis the season to be terrified
As Peter Rabbit is to Easter what Santa is to Christmas, I can’t go into a shop at the moment without wetting myself at the prospect of the Rake-Wielding One lurking behind all those cute stuffed bunnies. One image in particular I seek to avoid: the “chase scene”. Something about the menacing persistence of this has always terrified me – the way Peter can run but he can’t hide. Even when he does hide, in a watering can full of water – usually the end of a chase scene in most films – he gets busted and pursued again. In fact, I think Mr McGregor was clearly the inspiration for the Terminator.

Surely the most chilling chase scene ever?
It’s not that I’m against Beatrix Potter. I adore her illustrations as much as everyone else – except the ones with Him in them, of course. I have, and would be able to read again her other books, but only if someone else gets them out of the boxset for me in case I catch sight of That Picture. But my kids just aren’t interested, even though I’ve tried on many occasions. Without me ever saying a word, they have inherited my McGregophobia.
How not to talk to children
I agree with Beatrix Potter’s position of showing nature as it is (um, apart from the fact that all the animals are wearing clothes). Of course the “sandy-whiskered gentleman” is really planning to eat Jemima Puddleduck: foxes fell fowl. Fact. But in Mr McGregor, she has overstepped the mark. We agonise today about how much we should sugar-coat things for our children – but I think we could all agree that this is a little too plain from Mrs Rabbit, to her presumably pre-school pups:

“But don’t go into Mr McGregor’s garden: your Father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor”.

Put in a pie! Not only a murderer but a devourer of his victims! I know it was Mrs McGregor who actually did the cooking, but it’s him with that rake that made me lie awake at night as a child, rigid with fear. (No Freud please!)
Nothing will ever cure me of my McGregophobia. But I hope that it is a recessive gene, so that, one day, my grandchildren will be able to enjoy these fine works free from fear.

I’ll be McGregophobic for life – but you can make it all better with a BIB nomination! Deadline is this Saturday at midnight.

Pictures courtesy of the Beatrix Potter estate.


  • Oh god i bloody love peter rabbit! Well i love all rabbit related things 🙂
    Fully with you on this though – its barbaric.
    I’m going to tweet you a picture of a horrific card one of my friends got me

  • Emma Martin says:

    Ooh, i agree Jess. Totally! It’s made so much worse too, by the fact that Peter is so cute. No skanky miximatosis-infected rabbits here, Magregor only goes after the sweet, cuddly ones, who wear clothes (??!!) We share our garden with lots of wild Peters – I’m fiercely protective of them all! Loved this! Xx

  • pixiedusk says:

    My sonis watching Peter Rabbit on Cbeebies and he is okay with it cuz I htink he knows at the end of every journey Peter with always be ok. Thanks for sharing your phobia to us. I am scared of going down on an escalator. That is my phobia. I can always go up but never down. Show me the stairs! #pocolo

  • Anne Stone says:

    LOL I was never affected by Mr Mc Gregor, but then I was never a huge Peter Rabbit fan anyway.

  • Ha ha this made me chortle. I have found a lot of the old stories are pretty violent. That chase scene is horror right there xxx

  • OMG – I am with you on this. I had to have a frank talk with my daughter about the Easter bunny too as she was scared to death of him coming into the garden last year. A bearded man in her room is ace of spades but no chocolate delivering bunnies. x

  • Honest Mum says:

    A beautiful post and like Roald Dahl, it’s important to show the dark with the light, it’s healthy for kids to start to understand the world through these classics early on-I adore reading the Beatrix Potter collection with my 4 year old as I did the same with my mother. Thanks for this!

  • OMG, you’ve hit the nail on the head with this one Jess. Henry is so scared of Monster Mc Gregor, even the music freaks him out. Terrifying!

  • He used to scare me so much too, but I though it was just me, so glad I’m not alone!

  • I am so with you on this. Until Grace was small, I had forgotten all about Mr McGregor – and then I read the book to Grace and stopped in my tracks as I hadn’t remembered how violent he was!! thank you for linking to PoCoLo 🙂 x

  • Older Mum says:

    Little A covers her head with a cushion when either Mr McGregor or Mr Todd makes an appearance…. makes me nervous too! And then there are the books – I love them, all of them, just not the Mac’s garden rake! X

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge