Alan Alexander Milne created a character who has universal appeal.
Whether we are young or old, in China or Dubai or Greenland or a windy village in a wintry England, we all have Pooh days. Days when we 'stop to think and forget to start again.' And days when we fail to 'pay attention to where we are going and without meaning to get nowhere.' I have those days all the time.
There is Winnie-the-Pooh thinking or philosophy or whatever-you-want-to-call-it in all of us.
For a birthday treat this week, my big children invited me to London. It was one of those 'I'll come down* to London and spend the day with you for your birthday doing whatever yo want to do' that turned into a 'I know it's my birthday but for my birthday treat my brother and I want to take you, our mother, to a surprise treat for you. ** And until we get there we're not telling you where we're going.' Well, we went past all the tube stops that I knew. The stops where I could have made a guess where we might have been going. We strayed into city realms where this country-mouse felt - well, I'm not sure what I felt exactly - I was having such fun simply wondering. And if I felt lost, I knew that I wasn't. Because to misquote Pooh, the place where I was wasn't lost.
When we - in my case narrowly, having avoided being turned into road jam by a taxi that appeared quickly from nowhere - reached our slippery destination (slippery due to the white ceramic-looking tiles on the ground. Outside! In the rain! It made the ground look edgy and bright, and like a head-injury waiting to happen), I still didn't know what we were going to see. I knew now that we were going to see something. I'd seen the excellent Ballenciaga exhibition here last month. But I couldn't remember what else was on.
Perfection. I can't think of a better treat. I can't think why I didn't cry. I (nearly) always do. Actually I nearly did. Quite a bit closer to the crying side of nearly crying than the nearly side. This is what did it - Christopher Robin saying his prayers:
I read this as a child with a whithper - the little me had a lithp: 'whithper who dare-th, Chrithtopher Robin ith thaying hith prayerth.' Years of elocuthion lessons got rid of the lisp. Almotht.
The exhibition was all about Pooh but more about EH Shepard, the illustrator whose pencil drawings are at the heart of my Winnie the Pooh memories. Somehow he conjured graphite and paper into the stuff of magic - pictures that moved long before Harry Potter had moving photographs
Zoom in on this drawing to properly see the shifting outlines of a bear bouncing - bump! Bump! Bump! - down the stairs. Brilliant!
He was also strikingly good at trees
which is just as well given that the adventures of Pooh take place in the Hundred Acre Wood.
It's difficult sometimes to tease apart the original Milne from the familiar Disney Pooh. I have children and when they were growing up the Heffalump and Tigger Movies were favourites. Unlike some, I can forgive the American gotten that slips into Tigger's vocabulary but I have an uncomfortable tingle that runs up my spine when the gopher whistles and wheezes his 50s gangster beavery form into the films. He even says 'I'm not in the book y'know.' He shouldn't be in the films.
Oh bother. It's going to be another tomorrow - and another - before I post this. Winnie-the-Pooh Day Plus
I'm sure Pooh would have something to say about this delay. All life is in Pooh after all. Let's see ...
People say it's impossible to do nothing, but I do nothing every day.
Yes, the procrastinating bear. Perhaps, that's why I am so fond of him.
Another quote, that I live by is this
One of the advantages of being disorganised is that one is always having surprising discoveries.
And, finally, this honest, tear-jerking, sentimental quote is sincerely and with all my love for my children
If there ever comes a day when we can't be together, keep me in your heart, I'll stay there forever.
* up to London or down to London? Does it matter?
** Thank you. Thank you.
***Country Mouse might be hibernating for a week or two while she contemplates writing course applications and what she wants to do when she grows up or grows beyond her current state of perpetual procrastination and mid-life unease. Is there life beyond procrastination? Here's to hoping there is.