A rotund, towelling pig is reading aloud from the final page of chapter ten of the book “The House at Pooh Corner“, by A.A. Milne. Next to him, a little cream bear called Sainsbury is wiping a tear away from his eye with a lavender scented handkerchief.
That Pig snapped the book shut and stared importantly at Sainsbury for a moment.
‘That, Sainsbury, is the very reason the world is full of disillusionment and why human adults suffer from an array of bewildering disorders and crippling depressions. Having to dump your old bear in the woods and not tell him you’re not ever coming back is cruel and unbearable for both parties. In fact, that’s why the word unbearable was invented, you know.’
‘But what happened to Pooh?’ Sainsbury whimpered, blowing daintily into a scented muslin cloth, clearly distraught.
‘Oh for Yogi’s sake, it’s just a story. There is no Pooh or his shower of manic bouncing friends. Though it is true he was based on a real teddy, yes. Possibly a museum exhibit. Anyway, I digress. He’s merely a euphemism for the carefree days of childhood. But there in lies the point, Sainsbury.’
‘That Pooh must be restored from the woods and human adults permitted to reclaim their youthful joys!’
That Pig pointed a trotter at Sainsbury.
‘In fact, you and I will be the very Jedi’s of Joy. It’ll be our mission to remind people of Pooh and all he stands for – even though he was indeed a ‘bear of very little brain’ to have been left like that, waiting…’
‘Oooh!’ interrupted Sainsbury excitedly. ‘Jedi’s? Can I be Princess Leia?’
‘No you can’t. I’m not having you swooning around in diaphanous net again. Princess Leia herself is a perfect example of a thwarted childhood. She fell in love with her twin brother.’
‘We must get people hurling sticks off bridges, singing like loons in the snow and bouncing like their lives depend upon it. We must find a way to …..’ That Pig gazed into the distance for a moment, shiny black eyes narrowed in thought.
Meanwhile, Sainsbury executed an elaborate twirl on the spot, distracted by thoughts of Princess Leia caught up in the arms of a masterful Hans Solo.
‘I know.’ That Pig declared, suddenly heaving himself off his chair, snout quivering. ‘Fetch your coat. We’re going to visit Tracey Emin.’
‘Tracey Emin? But why? I’d much rather visit Gilbert & George.’
‘You’ll see, Ted-ache. Now get on with it!’
* * *
The two toys sneaked unseen into a famous art gallery. As they were tip-toeing with exaggerated stealth across the foyer, a couple walked passed, looking at them oddly as if half-seeing, but not believing.
‘Quick! Sit still and look glassy-eyed.’ That Pig hissed out of the corner of his mouth, pulling Sainsbury to his side as they slumped as one to the floor.
‘Hm. Art really has gone to the dogs these days…what’s that about?’ The man said pausing to look at them curiously.
‘Oh Peter. It’s obviously a post-modern statement about the futility of loss… come on, Damien’s this way.’ The woman sighed impatiently.
The couple moved off swiftly. ‘Strange outfit that little bear’s wearing.’ the man was heard to mutter.
‘For the love of Teddy Robinson! I told you not to wear your Princess Leia outfit. Now come on, Emin’s that way.’
The two toys find themselves at the foot of an enormous divan bed, unmade and strewn with empty bottles, unwashed pants and fag ends.
‘Pooh on a stick! This is worse than I thought.’ said That Pig, trotters astride his ample towelling hips.
‘Stinky.’ Sainsbury screwed up his pointy little nose, and felt faint. ‘What are we going to do?’
‘You’ll see.’ That Pig’s eyes gleamed with artistic fervour.
‘See that little white stuffed dog there beside the bed that appears to be discarded and overlooked? He represents what’s important here. Childhood.’
That night, once the visitors had left and the lights had been dimmed, there was much activity.
In fact, if the guard was to have looked at his security camera between 9.17pm and 9.21pm he may well have caught a glimpse of a tiny bear, swathed in netting, executing a series of pirouettes in the darkness.
* * *
The next morning, while Sainsbury slept off the exertions of the night before, That Pig quietly assembled his very favourite things onto a tray; a pot of Ceylon tea and an oozing Battenburg cake – and settled into an ancient armchair.
Shaking out the newspaper he gazed at the front page and smiled.
The headlines roared. ‘WHO MADE TRACEY EMIN’S BED?’
‘Not Goldilocks, that’s for sure. I doubt she would have been tempted.’ That Pig muttered as he smoothed the page with a pink trotter.
A large photograph displayed the artist Tracey Emin’s famous exhibit ‘My Bed’. However, in comparison to the original exhibit, the rubbish had been cleared away, the bed neatly made. It now displayed a clean white duvet, fat plumped pillows, and a pair of pyjamas folded on top.
And, tucked just inside the duvet, was the little white stuffed dog.
To the side of the bed a little stool stood, and if you looked very closely, you could just make out a copy of ‘The House at Pooh Corner’ resting upon it.
In fact, if you were to open the book and read it you would find chapter ten was mysteriously missing.
Dedicated to the memory of John Greenacre.
Copyright SR Parker 2009