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Winnie the Pooh’s Anniversary

Author John Cech
Air Date 10/21/1999

Winnie the Pooh’s Anniversary 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 73rd anniversary of the publication 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 does:

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.”

Maybe there’s a certain Tao in that, but I don’t think that Alan Alexander Milne meant it to be anything quite so esoteric when he wrote this follow up to the book of poems that he written a two years earlier, When We Were Very Young, that introduced characters, like Christopher Robin, named after his son, who would become the central, human chorus/anchor of Winnie-the-Pooh.

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 the 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.

But I’d like to remember them, Milne and Christopher, precariously balancing on a fence in photo that was taken in 1934. Like the stories, there is just a frisson of danger to the game, but it’s also giddy, great fun.

Just mind that you don’t fall on the balloon for the party.

Posted in Holidays, Literature