28 May BOOK CLUB – THE HOUSE AT POOH CORNER
Now this book isn’t a taxing or intellectual read, but it formed such a large part of my childhood bedtime storytelling I had to quote it. What I didn’t realise as a child is how poignant the last chapter is when Christopher Robin is growing up and moving on from Pooh. I find it hard not to well up when I read this final page of The House At Pooh Corner, I think it’s a beautiful sentiment. I will definitely be reading these books to my daughter – I guess I have to as the bear is her namesake!
“So Christopher Robin and Pooh carry on walking, and they walk up to an enchanted place on top of the Forest called Galleons Leap, where there are 60-something trees all in a circle. Christopher Robin knows that it is enchanted because nobody has ever been able to work out whether there are 63 trees in all or 64, not even when they tied a piece of string around each tree as they counted it. In this enchanted place you can see the whole world spread out around you.
Christopher Robin starts to tell Pooh about all kinds of things, Kings and Queens and Factors and islands and Europe and how you make a Suction Pump (if you want to) and how Knights are Knighted and things that come from Brazil. Pooh leans back against one of the trees and listens with his paws folded in front of him, and thinks how good it would be to have proper Brain that could tell you things, instead of Fluff.
When Christopher Robin has finished telling Pooh about all of these exciting things, Pooh asks him about the Afternoons part, and whether it is very grand to be an Afternoon, and after a few moments of confusion Christopher Robin explains that a Knight (rather than an Afternoon) is not as grand as a King, but grander than Factors.
Pooh wants to know if a bear could be a Knight, which of course he could be, so Christopher Robin knights Pooh with a stick and says “Rise, Sir Pooh de Bear”. Pooh thanks him and sits down again, and goes off into a bit of a dream for a while.
Suddenly Christopher Robin interrupts Pooh’s musings, and tells Pooh that he’s not going to be doing Nothing anymore, or at least not so much, because he won’t be allowed.
Christopher Robin says to Pooh that when he… you know, when he’s not allowed to do Nothing anymore, he would like Pooh to come up to the enchanted place sometimes. Pooh says “Just me?”, and Christopher Robin says yes, and Pooh asks Christopher Robin if he will be there with him, and Christopher Robin says that he will really.
Christopher Robin then asks Pooh to promise to never, not ever forget about him, not even when he is one hundred (and Pooh is 99). Pooh promises to never forget. Christopher Robin looks out at the world, and asks Pooh to understand, whatever happens, and Pooh asks what it is he needs to understand, and Christopher Robin says nevermind, and then Come on!, and Pooh says where to, and Christopher Robin says “Anywhere”.
So they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.”
A.A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner
Image original drawing by EH Shepherd