Maybe it was an act of subconscious self-preservation but I had completely forgotten about the character of Tom Bombadil in ‘The Lord of the Rings.’ I’m now 150 pages into my re-read of the classic fantasy trilogy at a staggering pace of seven pages a day. Frodo, Samwise, Pippin & Merry should already have been dead about a million times over but for the heroics of Mr. Bombadil and his ethereal companion, Goldberry.
A quick flick through any of the LOTR fan forums will tell you that old Tom is a far from popular character. He’s described as annoying and irrelevant to the story. And, yes, his unending gibberish, nonsensical verses and desire to break into song and dance at every available opportunity would tend to grate on the nerves after a while. Even Tolkien said he only included him in the tale as he was a leftover character from an earlier short story.
This probably explains why Peter Jackson did not include him in the movies. Yet, without Tom there would be no movies. Frodo would never have made it to Rivendell, never mind the slopes of Mount Doom, as Tom twice saved the hapless hobbits from Old Willow-Man and the Barrow Wraith. As well as keeping them well fed, tending to their ponies and single-handedly getting them to Bree where they are handed over to their next saviour, the mysterious Strider.
Have you a Tom Bombadil in your life? That annoying, frustrating person who you want to strangle half the time, yet couldn’t cope without? I fear I may be one as well as knowing of others. Well, if you do, don’t be too hard on them. Bite your lip, count to ten, and smile. True friends come in all shapes and sizes but they share one common characteristic – they will be there when you need them most. Just like good old Tom Bombadil.