Some time ago I was reading Winnie-The-Pooh to my grandson when I realised to my horror that both he and I were nodding off. I wasn't worried about him - this was a bedtime story.
But I was raised on Winnie-The-Pooh. For me, it was not a book I would nod off to.
It was Chapter One, in which we are introduced, and Pooh Bear, having climbed a tree in pursuit - surprise, surprise - of honey, had fallen out of the tree into a gorse-bush. Well that's how it was written:
He leaned just a little bit more and "Snap" went the branch and down fell Pooh. He bounced from branch to branch to branch until he ran out of branches and landed headfirst in a bush.
Something was wrong, this was not how it should have been. Then I noticed that this was the American version, especially for the kiddies. What an insult to the kiddies!
I hurried off to the original, which, of course, has a prominent place in my book shelves. This is how A A Milne describes Pooh's fall:
"Oh, help!" said Pooh, as he dropped ten feet on to the branch below him.
"If only I hadn't -" he said, as he bounced twenty feet on to the next branch.
"You see, what I meant to do," he explained, as he turned head-over-heels, and crashed on to another branch thirty feet below, "what I meant to do -"
"Of course it was rather -" he admitted, as he slithered very quickly through the next six branches.
"It all comes, I suppose," he decided, as he said goodbye to the last branch, spun round three times, and flew gracefully into a gorse-bush, "it all comes of liking honey so much. Oh, help!"
You couldn't fall asleep reading that, could you! The Americans, it seems, in their desire to make everything accessible to everybody, have reduced poor Pooh to a lowest common denominator. It was like a Reader's Digest condensation of Winnie-The-Pooh, and it sent me to sleep. The magic has been removed, and Winnie-The-Pooh simply falls out of a tree.
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