Tiggers Don’t Climb Trees

Upon the wall above the computer desk hangs a large copy of one of the wonderful sketches by E.H Shepard from A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner. This particular sketch is from the chapter entitled In which it is shown that Tiggers don’t climb trees. Roo and Tigger have climbed one of the six pine trees but Tigger’s bouncy tail means he can only climb upwards and so they find themselves stuck. The sketch shows Christopher Robin, Piglet, Eeyore and Pooh each holding a corner of Christopher Robin’s tunic, stretched out to catch Tigger (Roo has already successfully jumped and landed safely). Tigger is mid-flight, paws and belly skywards, falling towards the waiting group below who are braced to receive him. I discovered the print and frame in a junk shop in Sandown – I really love it.

The Pooh books are wonderful and Shepard’s beautiful drawings capture them so brilliantly. They express such warmth; I find it hard not to be cheered by them. It is to Shepard’s credit that it is impossible to think of Milne’s characters without instantly bringing Shepard’s illustrations to mind; a perfect example of how good illustration can enrich the text.

Looking up at the picture as I write is helping to lift my spirits. It has been a rough couple of days; the seemingly intractable problems with some of the kids on the estate that I live on, have made the last twenty fours hours very difficult. I have real sympathies for these children and their families (despite making life hell at times) – poverty and a host of other issues all collide to make for some pretty dysfunctional behaviour. Many of these children are desperate for attention and will settle for the most negative of reactions, actively and energetically seeking it out in ways that impact on others in troubling ways– simply put, with all the sympathy and compassion I can muster, it can still be very hard to live amongst them at times. Only four days after moving in, I remember standing at my kitchen window watching what looked like a re-enactment of Lord of the Flies just feet away outside. It was hard not to have a sense of foreboding about just what this might mean for us. Within two weeks we were treated to a broken window, achieved by a stone throwing game of dare; over two years later, the accumulative effect of numerous incidents is starting to take it toll.

I feel so incredibly at home in the landscape of this beautiful Island and yet it has been that much harder to feel at home within the bricks and mortar of my actual home. As much as I love our little house and feel so grateful to have been given the opportunity to live in it, it is heartbreaking to feel under siege so often within it. It is strange that it has been small children that have undermined my ability to settle and feel safe here; in the past I have lived in far more threatening situations, living in the grimmest of multiple occupancy buildings, my roof shared with everything from heroine dealers and users to hardened thugs and petty thieves. That wasn’t ideal either but somehow it was easier to deal with than this. Perhaps my expectations were different back then; perhaps I have had so much riding on finding a sanctuary to heal in at this point in my life.

There are great contrasts in wealth on the Island. There is high unemployment and much of the work is seasonal and poorly paid. Many families struggle. Poverty denies access to cultural capital, diminishes aspiration, can insidiously erode the simple belief that life can be different. There is a worryingly high level of teenage pregnancies here and the very nature of island life can sometimes intensify the closing in of horizons, narrowing expectations. For many of these children, life is not what it could or should be and that angers and saddens me; it also leaves me dealing with the fall out on occasions too.

Looking at Tigger letting go of his branch, trusting that he will be caught, that he will land safely, I try to convince myself that such an approach is the only one that will serve me in this situation, in any situation for that matter. And yet, the thought of having to move again leaves me feeling more like Eeyore in his ‘Gloomy Place’. It seems that a great part of my life has been a search to reclaim a ‘home’ that feels lost to me. Don’t you just hate it when you catch yourself in the middle of a repeated pattern…?

“Let’s go and see everybody,” said Pooh. “Because when you’ve been walking in the wind for miles, and you suddenly go into somebody’s house, and he says, ‘Hallo, Pooh, you’re just in time for a little smackerel of something,’ and you are, then it’s what I call a Friendly Day.”

Piglet thought that they ought to have a Reason for going to see everybody, like Looking for Small or Organizing an Expotition, if Pooh could think of something.

Pooh could.

“We’ll go because it’s Thursday,” he said, “and we’ll go to wish everybody a Very Happy Thursday. Come on, Piglet.” – A.A.Milne.


  1. Tracey Jones said,

    August 4, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    Hello Maria!
    i have been catching up with your blog and its always a spine tingling, hairs on neck rising experience…. because of your observations, the way you write about them and because i sit here and read them and think gosh i have been going through a similar thing or thinking about things in a similar way. I may not see you as much in person now(boo hoo) but it can feel we are tuning in to each other on all sorts of other levels! I love winnie the pooh too so i really enjoyed this blog.
    I definately relate to the feeling of being in the middle of a repeated pattern… or repeated patterns! they are cropping up all over the place!

    I am sorry to hear its been tough with the kids again and i understand about the trusting and letting go question, sometimes i find it hard to know when should i relax, let go and trust or when should i be taking some sort of action, thats very apt from an Aries girl -we need action!
    I hope it has calmed down now. It would be good to meet and have a catch up soon,
    take care and speak soon
    lots of love

  2. luckyloom1 said,

    August 4, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    Hello Lovely One!

    I was just thinking of you and here you are! Maybe we are morphing into each other!

    Action!? Look, you are talking to a Pisces Moon person – I consider it a major triumph if I actually make it out of bed in the mornings! Everyone else seems to have gone out and come back before I’ve even registered what day it is. I do envy you Aries people. Actually my Dad was only saying a couple of days ago how much he admires you; he is very impressed with the way you walk your talk – he thinks you are a real star (as indeed do I).

    Thank you – yes, I feel a lot better today (all quiet on the Western Front). It can be so hard sometimes to know what is the right thing to do. I try to get myself into a place where I can hear that still, small voice, but I really have drawn a complete blank with this one. I guess at these moments the only thing to do is be kind to yourself and give yourself time. I would really like to be Pooh but I know I am really Piglet!

    Good to hear that Laddy is staying local. It would be lovely to meet up. I will phone and firm up details. In the meantime, take loving care of yourself my lovely Ram (you know horns are so much more ‘kick arse’ than fins!).

    All my love

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