Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Grin and Bear it

The last fortnight or so, nice to have the Guardian's Pass notes back again. Now up to no. 2,656, and celebrating a new Winnie-the-Pooh story by David Benedictus, with illustrations by Mark Burgess.

The piece compares Burgess's efforts with the originals and contrasts them with Disney's parodies:
You could argue that Mark Burgess's drawings for the new Pooh book represent the closest thing to the truth, since they're a) not Disney, b) in colour, and c) not vomit-yellow and old.
Years back, as a reward for enduring MoMA, the aforementioned pert young piece (then younger, perter, but still a piece of work) was taken across 53rd to see Mary Poppins's umbrella and fulfil a promised engagement with five VIPs. Explanation follows:
These toys made a tour of the United States in 1947. Milne provided a 'birth certificate' to travel with the toys. Dutton Publishing, Milne's American publisher, insured the toys for $50,000, a vast amount of money in those days. They toured the U.S. for about ten years and ended up in the offices of Dutton. Dutton was able to convince Milne to let the toys remain in America, where they remained here until 1969. At this time, they made a short trip to England (flying as VIPs in a Concorde) for a Shepard exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

For many years, the original Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Kanga and Eeyore were lovingly cared for by Elliott Graham at the offices of E.P. Dutton in New York. After reading a newspaper article reporting that Dutton had taken possession of the 'stuffed animals,' Elliott applied for and was given a job at the publisher, where he quickly became the official guardian to Pooh and his companions. On September 11th, 1987 the toys found a new home at the Central Children's Room at the Donnel Center, a branch of the New York City Library, where they are on display in a large glass case inside a room with a viewing window. The toys have been left uncleaned and unmended and look as if they are awaiting the return of Christopher Robin.
There then followed a moment of parental pride.

Unbidden, the pert young piece signed the visitors' book, with the addition:
Repatriate the Hundred Wood Five! Now!
In doing so, she was pre-empting a similar move:
Gwyneth Dunwoody, a British Member of Parliament, has started a campaign to bring back the original stuffed animals of Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet and Kanga to England. These toys, originally belonging to Christopher Robin, were donated in 1987 by E.P. Dutton to the Central Children's Room at the Donnel Center, a branch of the New York City Library, where they are on display in a large glass case. Gwyneth Dunwoody visited the toys recently and concluded: "They look very unhappy. And that doesn't surprise me, if you realize they are captured all those years. They're a part of British inheritance and they want to come home!" Dunwoody will request the House of Commons to proceed a request of repatriation.
The doughty Dunwoody received a dusty response:
Rudolph Giuliani, Mayor of New York, is prepared to 'risk a war' with the British to keep the toys in the Library at West 53rd Street. "Like millions of other immigrants, Winnie the Pooh and his friends came to America to start a new life. They're a good example of a successful immigration".
To think we Brits then gave Hizzoner an honorary knighthood. Sphere: Related Content

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