Sunday, 12 May 2013

Make it a rule never to give a child a book you would not read yourself - George Bernard Shaw

I've been painting again. In true bank holiday tradition. And in true BH spirit, I did it all in one afternoon. Three huge walls. Floor to ceiling. Needless to say I was a tad pooped by the end. Indeed, I couldn't move too much. If at all.

Thus I was condemned to read... With a book propped up on pillows in front of me to avoid paining any further the muscles in my arms. And that’s my Complaining Song. For I am Eeyore. As I discovered through the pain.

So yes I strayed from my Classics Club challenge. It felt wrong, if the truth be told. But it was more than partly due to my suffering. You see, Milan Kundera was next on my list. Les Testaments Trahis, to be exact. In French.

Now, I'm a big fan of MK. I've read just about everything he's ever written. I love his perspective. His meandering reflections. His delightful grace of style.

But these are essays. Intense. Philosophical. And in French. Too much for a bank holiday. In pain. And in need of comfort and consolation after a hard morning's work.

The encounter with the children last week was still with me. Part of our time together had been spent watching back-to-back cartoons. None of this modern stuff either. Pink Panther. Tweety Pie and Sylvester. Wile E Coyote and the Road Runner. Fun and nostalgic. Although all in French. Which gave them all a whole new dimension.

Particularly Pepe Le Pew. Who actually lost his charm somewhat. As you will understand if you were ever a fan. And loved his French accent and French ways. Including his imperfect English à la française.

So, dismayed somewhat by the challenge of MK and the consequential need to think too hard, I turned to Winnie the Pooh. The only option under the circumstances. I have a lovely copy of the complete collection of stories and poems. A beautiful, big hefty book. A real tome to read to children. And to myself.

I have never read the whole of WTP. Only extracts. I can now only wonder why. Through charming tales, A. A. Milne shines through as the author who has become the father. Eager to delight the child before him. His loving dedications to his wife add further to the charm of the whole. But maybe that's the romantic in me.

The endurance through time of Pooh and friends is totally comprehensible. And what a wonderful cooperation between AAM and E. H. Shepard: beautiful words faithfully portrayed in such touching and delicate illustrations. I have just learned that EHS used his own son's teddy, Growler, as the model for Pooh. Fathers and sons, huh.

How inspiring children are. We really need to be with them more to get more "rememberings". Do you know what I mean? “I hope you do too because it’s all the explanation that you’re going to get..."

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