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A. A. Milne’s Birthday

Author John Cech (read by Fiona Barnes)
Air Date 1/18/2002

A. A. Milne’s Birthday Transcript

It seems like we should be throwing some kind of party today, a big party with many jars of honey and Good Things To Eat, and cards inscribed with HIPY PAPY BTHUTHDTH THUTHDA BTHUTHDY. Because it’s the birthday of Allen Alexander Milne, the author of Winnie-the-Pooh, and we should gorge ourselves enough to get stuck in a very tight place; we should take a balloon ride disguised as a cloud (but mind the bees); we should go rumbling down the road chanting “Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie” — or perhaps a chorus of “Tra-la-la, tra-la, la … Rum-tum-tiddle-um-tum” — or go hunting for heffalumps and woozles or set off on an Expotition to the North Pole. It’s a day for replacing lost tails and having unexpected baths, and making friends, and testing friendships, and learning something about ourselves and asking those imponderable questions like the bear of very little brain asks himself one day:

On Monday, when the sun is hot
I wonder to myself a lot:
“Now is it true, or is it not,
“That what is which and which is what.”

Milne was a witty, urbane, prolific man of letters — a playwright and novelist, an occasional poet and comic writer who just happened to write four children’s books that made him famous, while his prose fiction and plays sunk into obscurity. His own publishers claimed that Milne had “wonderful insight into a child’s mind” but was “not inordinately fond of or interested in children.” Milne remained throughout his life a bit embarrassed by the source of his fame, and his son, Christopher Robin, never welcomed the notoriety that his association with the books brought him throughout his life, making him one of the most famous children in the world and never letting him really claim his own adulthood, at least in other people’s minds.

Maybe the best way to remember them, Milne and Christopher Robin, father and son is as they were in a photo taken in 1934, precariously balanced together on the railing of a fence . Like the stories, there is just a frisson of risk to their acrobatics, but it’s also great, giddy fun.

Now just take care that you don’t fall on the balloon on your way to the party.

Posted in Authors, Literature