Friend Shimon got me thinking about what books and stories each family favours, so that they are not only a part of childhood, but also part of each family’s identity.
With our lot, it’s Winnie the Pooh. It all started one dark and stormy night when the rain came down in torrents …:yes:
No, really. We were living in Nigeria at the time. One of the ways I got the children asleep was to let them play cassettes (remember those??) of stories. However, they were not sold locally and we had to rely on Christmas and birthday presents for our supply. What with the heat, the harmattan dust and the fact that they were played to death our little library was soon sounding wow-y and weird.
At the time I was Nigeria editor for our mission mag, and I had a rather nice tape recorder which I was using for interviews with church leaders etc. One night, when the children were asleep, I took the machine into my bedroom where I could improve the acoustic by recording in the middle of the bed – it absorbed the sound. As I started, a rainy season storm blew up with the mother and father of thunder and lightning – you can still hear it on the tape, faintly in the background!
I’d decided that I would record some extra stories for the children, and I’d settled on Pooh. I waded my way through as many as would fit on a cassette, giving each character a silly voice – squeaky for Piglet, bossy for Rabbit, twit-twoooooo-ey for Owl, etc. I then proffered this to my assembled throng the next day, and it went down a treat.
So I did some more.
Scroll forward 15 years or so. The kids are now teenagers and we’re living in England. We had all been out somewhere and were driving home again. Somebody was getting stroppy – can’t remember who, or why.
Second daughter suddenly said ‘”Good morning, Pooh Bear,” said Eeyore gloomily. “If it is a good morning, which I doubt,” said he.’
Immediately, somebody else took it up with “Why, what’s the matter?”
SD: “Nothing, Pooh Bear, nothing. We can’t all, and some of us don’t. That’s all there is to it.”
And so they went on, remembering it word for word, even using my silly voices… :))
SD is still a huge fan of Pooh, and so am I. The entire family is agreed, that it’s got to be the PROPER Pooh with the E H Shepard drawings … although I’ve noticed a few stuffed Disney versions have crept into the grandchildren’s beds these days … 😉