Words by John Wilson, with apologies to A.A.Milne
Illustrations by Vicki Lackenby, in the style of E.H.Shepard
In which Pooh and Piglet watch a fox hunt, and chance upon a fracking well.
Pooh and Piglet went for a walk in the countryside.
“What’s that noise?” asked Piglet, hoping it was Nothing To Be Frightened Of.
“It’s the local hunt” replied Pooh.
“I thought hunting was illegal now”, said Piglet.
“Yes”, said Pooh, “but they are following a trail. If a fox gets in the way and the hounds get it, that isn’t what was intended”.
“Don’t the police monitor what the hunt is doing, to make sure they don’t break the law?” asked Piglet.
“The Police don’t have the resources” replied Pooh, solemnly shaking his head.
Pooh and Piglet rounded a bend in the road. What they saw, they found hard to believe. By some gates was a tea stall, a small group of respectable-looking old people, some parents with children in push chairs, a few young people in bright clothes and some friendly dogs on leads. Surrounding them were at least 30 police men and women in hi viz jackets, their pockets bulging with sinister-looking hardware. One policeman was filming the old people’s every move. Vans full of more police were parked along the road stretching into the village. Piglet gasped. He was a tiny bit frightened, but felt brave next to Pooh.
“You just said that the police resources are stretched” said Piglet, “So why are so many here?”
“They’re here to monitor the old people, the young people and the parents with children so that they don’t break the law.”
“Oh, of course” said Piglet, not really understanding, but not wanting to appear silly.
In which the animals go on a demonstration, and Eeyore gets arrested
A piece of paper slipped through Pooh’s letterbox, followed by a loud knock on the door. Pooh woke up with a start. The long walk with Piglet earlier had tired him out, and the large jar of a particularly fine honey he ate for his tea, had left him drowsy. Piglet, who had been dreaming about his own private haycorn orchard , woke up too.
Before Pooh could answer the door, Rabbit let himself in to explain the piece of paper.
“ They are planning to frack in the Hundred Acre Wood”, announced Rabbit, and I’m organdising a demonstration”.
Pooh didn’t know what a Frack was, let alone two of them. He hoped that once Rabbit had demonstrated a Frack he might understand what he was talking about. Luckily, Piglet asked,
“ What is it they are they planning?”
“It’s fracking”, replied Rabbit, it’s a terrible thing and they are going to do it here, near our homes.
“But what is it?’ asked Pooh, hoping that it didn’t use honey.
“Well it’s…. it’s…. um….. difficult to…. Ah! Here’s Christopher Robin. Christopher Robin. I was just going to explain to Pooh what fracking is, but being a Bear of Very Little Brain he is finding it difficult to understand”.
“We’ve done fracking at school,” said Christopher Robin brightly. The frackers pump water and chemicals into the ground and gas and more chemicals come out. My teacher said that it can make water taste funny and it can make the ground shake.
“It doesn’t sound very nice said Pooh, why do you want to demonstrate that, Rabbit?”
“Silly old bear,” said Christopher Robin. Rabbit thinks all the animals from the Hundred Acre Wood should protest to stop the fracking. The men who are planning to do it are on the edge of the wood, near to the Pooh Sticks Bridge.
“That’s where Piglet and me went this morning,” said Pooh. There were lots of policemen. Piglet was a bit frightened”.
“No I wasn’t!”, protested Piglet.
And so, early next day, Pooh, Piglet, Christopher Robin, Rabbit, Tigger, Kanga and Roo set off to the fracking. Eeyore walked slowly behind, and the others had to keep waiting for him. Tigger ran ahead, and had keep running back to the others. Kanga carried a basket of bread and soup, some extract of malt sandwiches for Tigger, honey for Pooh and a bag of haycorns.
“Fracking and wotnot” mumbled Eeyore to himself, “Chemicals and wotnot. Dirty water. Preposterous! Ho hum.”
Owl flew overhead. He had been on a course and wore a bright orange jacket, on the back of which he had written ‘WOL LEEGOL OBB SIRVA’
Piglet, who was struggling to keep up, called to Christopher Robin to wait for him.
“Christopher Robin”, asked Piglet anxiously, “those policemen yesterday looked very big, “Will we be okay?”
Christopher Robin hugged him.
“Dear Piglet,” he said affectionately. “Policemen are kind friendly people. They help you if you get lost and they see old ladies across the street. We are not doing anything wrong, we just want to protest because we think that the Hundred Acre Wood is in danger, and it’s our home.” Please don’t been scared of the policemen”.
Soon they reached the gates. Pooh edged towards a table with honey sandwiches, until Kanga saw him. She sternly told him that he would spoil his lunch, and that she had honey for him later.
They had not been at the gates for long before even more policemen arrived. The ground began to shake, and giant trucks with huge loads appeared in the distance. The policemen asked everyone to move off the road and onto the grass verge. Piglet held onto Christopher Robin’s hand. Kanga shouted to Tigger, “Tigger dear, come here, the policemen don’t want to be bounced”.
Eeyore had not been taking much notice of what was going on, and had drifted into a world of his own. Oblivious of the noise and confusion, he spotted a succulent thistle on the opposite side of the road, and said to himself, “Breakfast”. He never got there. Without any warning a burly policeman threw Eeyore to the ground and put handcuffs around his front legs. Roo saw it happen, he jumped up and down shouting, “The policeman’s got Eeeyore! The policeman’s got Eeeyore!”
Owl flew down. Summoning all he remembered from his course he asked the policeman about a section and clause. Eeyore said that he didn’t have claws, he had hooves, and that whatever he had, neither claws nor hooves would help much in the back of a police van. The policeman said he was only doing his job. Eeyore said he’d only been getting his breakfast, but nobody seemed to be listening.
The police van door closed on Eeyore. His mournful face appeared in the rear window as he was driven away. Christopher Robin and his friends watched forlornly as the van disappeared into the distance. The animals from The Hundred Acre Wood stood in silence, their mouths open. A salty tear rolled down Piglet’s cheek and off the end of his nose. He found it hard to speak, and with barely a husky squeak, he said to Christopher Robin,
“You said that policemen were kind, friendly and helpful”.
In which Christopher Robin and his friends are politicised, and they plan to build a tower.
The night after Eeyore was arrested, Christopher Robin cried himself to sleep. He felt that he had let his friends down, because he had told them that they could trust the policemen at the fracking protest. Eeyore was released without charge the following morning, although the officers at the police station kept his tail, which had fallen off during his arrest. They would not explain why they were keeping it. Owl said that he thought it was for something like Eeyore’s tail being a danger to traffic, but nobody could be sure.
Christopher Robin suspected that Eeyore had been depressed since his arrest, although it was hard to tell with Eeyore. In truth he was seething with anger. An angry Eeyore is a force to be reckoned with, especially without his tail.
Now Christopher Robin, his friends and most of Rabbit’s friends and relations went to the fracking site nearly every day. Kanga never missed a day, because she had taken it on herself to make sandwiches, cakes and drinks for everyone there, being the kind person she was. Roo went with her of course, so did Tigger, who played happily with Roo and with the friendly dogs many people had with them. The weather was good and had it not been for the threat of fracking, and the diesel fumes from the giant trucks, people could easily have been happy sharing the countryside. People were making new friendships, and the animals from the Hundred Acre Wood felt very welcome.
One day, when the animals were sitting and lying in front of the gates to the fracking site enjoying the autumn sun, there was a commotion. Christopher Robin could hear Kanga’s voice.
“Don’t be silly dear”, she was saying to a fresh-faced young police sergeant, “ I always set up my tea stall here. It’s in the shade so that the sandwiches don’t curl.”
“You are causing an obstruction here” said the police sergeant, “I am asking you to move”.
“You can ask, silly man, but I’m not going to”, replied Kanga indignantly.
“I am ordering you to move. If you don’t, you may be arrested,”
Owl flew down in his Legal Observer’s jacket. “What power?” he asked the sergeant. The sergeant looked surprised, since it was a question he had never been asked, especially by an owl.
“Obstruction” he replied, “This lady, er kangaroo is in my way!”
Nobody wanted to arrest Kanga, except of course the police sergeant, and she was politely persuaded to move. Some of the police constables even helped move her table and tea urn. Pooh watched thoughtfully.
“I’m confused”, said Pooh.
“It doesn’t take much”, mumbled Eeyore.
Pooh went on,
“Some of the policemen are really nasty, but others, like the Constables, are often kind and friendly, especially the older ones.”
“That’s why they are still Constables”, said Eeyore. Ambition and all that. ‘Obey orders Sergeant’. ‘Toe the line, Inspector’. Never question Chief Superintendant’. ‘Tea at Buckingham Palace. Medal from the Queen Chief Constable. Never said, just understood. Humbug. Do as you’re told and you’ll get on Pooh. Power and politics Pooh. Corporate state. Big business.
“ I think I’m angry”, said Pooh. “I think I’ve been angry since Eeyore was arrested. “Now that Kanga has been treated roughly, I’m even angrier! I have written a hum, and it goes like this,
When Eeyore was arrested,
A bear got very cross.
Police were not fair
They did not care
They just showed who was boss.
A bear he will not stand for it,
For it he will not stand.
They will not frack near where we live
because it is our land.”
Christopher Robin and all the animals clapped Pooh. Piglet hugged him.
“I’m cross too”, said Piglet.
“You’ve been politicised Pooh”, said Eeyore.
Pooh didn’t think he had, but he examined himself all over just to be sure. As he twisted round to look at his own back there was a squeak from under his right foot.
“I think you are standing on one of my Friends and Relations” said Rabbit. “You need to be more careful Pooh.”
Pooh apologised profusely to the tiny, and now very indignant mouse he had almost squashed.
“I have an idea”, said Christopher Robin. None of Rabbit’s Friends and Relations can see anything that is happening here. None of us can see much except Owl. What we need is an Observation Tower.”
“Exactly what I have been thinking for some days”, said Rabbit. “In fact I have started a list for what we need to build it”.
In which Christopher Robin builds a Tower, Tigger is arrested, and Roo is distraught.
You will remember from Chapter 3, that because some of Rabbit’s Friends and Relations were so small and in danger of getting walked on, it was decided that near to the gates, Christopher Robin and his friends would build a tower.
And so it was that one sunny autumn morning, a procession of animals turned up with three long hazel poles, some shorter poles to make ladder rungs, and a large ball of string.
“If we put it here”, said Pooh, standing on the grass verge very close to a hawthorn hedge which encircled the boundary of the fracking well, “it will give Rabbit’s little cousins a really good view of what is going on, and if we build it strong enough, we can take it in turns to climb up to the top”.
“A tripod” said Eeyore, “That’s the theoretical principle. Three legs gives three solid points of contact with the ground. ‘Strong and Stable’, as Mrs May used to say.”
Christopher Robin put the three sturdy hazel stakes on the grass and tied the tops together to form a teepee frame. When he looked up there was a large policeman standing over him.
“May I ask just what you are doing sir?” asked the policeman.
“We’re going to build a tower on the grass near to the hedge so that the little animals can see what is going on.”
By now, twelve more police officers, who had been sitting in a nearby van, joined their colleague, and surrounded Christopher Robin. If Christopher Robin had known the word ‘intimidated’, I’m sure he would have felt it. As it was he felt both frightened and cross at being surrounded by so many police officers.
“If you build a tower it will be causing an obstruction to the highway, and you could be arrested” said the police officer firmly.
Christopher looked at the tiny pile of sticks, and at Kanga’s tea stall, which was far bigger, and also on the grass verge. Had he know the word ‘incredulous’, then he would have felt Incredulous and Intimidated. Another van full of policemen arrived and disgorged into the road. One officer, with ‘EVIDENCE GATHERER’ written on his back, had a camera on a long pole, and was filming Christopher Robin’s every move.
“Can I ask what you were intending to use to cut that string?” asked the police officer.
“My pen knife” said Christopher Robin innocently.
“I will ask you politely to hand over the knife, as it is an offensive weapon, and the ball of string, which you were intending to use to commit and offence of obstruction. If you do not comply, you will be arrested.”
Tearfully, Christopher Robin handed over the tiny silver pen knife with the mother-of-pearl handle his father had given him for his last birthday, and the ball of string he had bought with all his pocket money. These were not the kind policemen he had seen in the Ladybird books at school. As polite as they were, they looked and sounded menacing, and greatly outnumbered the animals.
“I’ve been thinking”, said Pooh, as he sat with Piglet at Christopher Robin’s house that evening. “Perhaps we just caught that policeman on a bad day”.
“Hmm”, replied Christopher Robin thoughtfully. “I can be like that if I get out of bed on the wrong side.”
Pooh glanced over to check that Christopher Robin’s bed was in its usual place, and wondered how he could get out of bed with a wall in the way, but before he could ask, Piglet smiled.
“I know what you’re thinking Christopher Robin!” said Piglet excitedly. “If we build a tower at night, then when the policemen come and find that it is not in anyone’s way, I’m sure they will let it stay.”
“I’ll save up for some more string”, said Christopher Robin, “and I’ve got some scissors I use for cutting out shapes.”
And so it was, that around midnight just one week later, a column of giggling, whispering animals, led by Rabbit, who carried a clipboard with a sketch of the completed tower, arrived at the grass verge a few hundred yards from the fracking site gates. Kanga was babysitting Roo and Tigger, but everyone else, including many of Rabbit’s Friends and Relations, had joined the fun. Up ahead, by the gates, they could see the interior lights of a police car. Owl, who in his Legal Observer’s vest, was not officially part of the tower-building, flew silently to the car and reported back to the others.
“The officers are talking, yawning and reading a document called ‘Managing Change’, something I suspect they are finding rather difficult.”
“They would find that difficult”, said Eeyore gloomily.
“Reading?” asked Owl.
“I meant managing change”, said Eeyore, “but now you come to mention it.”
Rabbit studied his clipboard. “I suggest we complete the construction here, and move it into position once it is completed. Everyone make a space for Christopher Robin to begin the work”.
Before very long, a teepee frame, with ladder rungs between two of the three poles, was ready to be carried into place. Christopher Robin had fixed a rope to the top to lift it into position. Right under the noses of the policemen in the car, the Strong and Stable tower was positioned hard up against the hedge, so as not to be in the way. Two of Rabbit’s Friends and Relations, a young squirrel, and a beetle called Small, climbed to the top, amidst lots of stifled giggles and utterances of “Shush, shush.” The light in the eastern sky over the vale was just beginning a new day as the animals sat by the gates to await the dawn.
Christopher Robin’s innocent naivety was soon crushed when the vans of police officers arrived at first light. The shouted up to Small and Squirrel that they would be arrested for causing an obstruction to the highway. Christopher Robin tried to pass them a bar of hazelnut chocolate, but was told that he would be arrested for aiding offenders. Owl tried to remonstrate with the policeman, who by this time had placed a cordon of three police vans and thirty officers shoulder to shoulder around the tower. Eeyore, who really did not care any more if he was arrested, suggested to the policeman that this was a “disproportionate response”, but was told that the teepee was a dangerous structure, and could fall over at any time. Eeyore asked if the policeman could recall any time in history that a teepee on level ground, a Strong and Stable Structure, had ever fallen over, but the police officer ignored him. The cordon remained, for hour after hour, all through the long, tense eventful day that transpired.
When Kanga had arrived to set up her tea stall, she was not allowed to put her table near to the gates in case the Strong and Stable teepee tower fell on her. The policeman said that it had to be outside the “sterile area” he had set up. Kanga looked at the great clods of cow manure from the farm opposite the gates carpeting the sterile area and clogging the policemens’ boots. She thought it wise not to say anything but she knew that if any of them came to her house she would make them take their boots off on the mat, sterile or not.
In the afternoon, with Small and Squirrel still refusing to leave their tower, something happened which left all the animals devastated. It didn’t need to happen, but Christopher Robin couldn’t help thinking that the policemen were cross and were trying to show their Power and Control. If he had known the word ‘vindictive’, he probably would have thought it. Tigger and Roo had played happily all morning, but by the afternoon, began to get bored and naughty. Kanga had to tell them to calm down several times, but whilst she was serving cups of tea, Roo asked Tigger to play tig with him. “Tigger playing tig! That’s like I made a joke!” squeaked Roo with delight. Running away from Roo, Tigger began to run in between the policemens’ legs, through their cordon and around the tower. A policeman beckoned him to come away from under the legs of the tower. For a moment he refused, thinking that the policeman was joining in the game. As he bounced around, playfully taunting Roo to come and get him, he bounced into the police officer, nearly knocking him over. Whether he meant to do it we’ll never know, but the policeman quickly regained his balance and calm was restored. Kanga ordered him to come and sit under her table to “calm down” and peace was restored. But worse was to come.
A short while after, when Tigger was playing a much quieter game giving Roo rides on his back, he was suddenly surrounded by four police officers, including the evidence gatherer with his video camera.
“Am I okay to take your name?”, one of the policemen asked, as his colleague filmed Tigger and Roo.
“No” Tigger with surprise. “Why do you need to?”
“I need to get your details basically, because I need to deal with you for an offence which we suspect you of.”
“An offence?” said Tigger, “what was the offence?”
“Obstructing a police officer in the exercising of his duty” replied the policeman.
“Yes, but that didn’t happen did it?” said Tigger.
“I don’t want to discuss it at the moment said the police officer. It is my intention to report you for that offence, but I can only do that if you give me your details.”
By now all the animals had crowded around the group, and more police officers joined the scene. The policeman said to Tigger.
“I do not want to arrest you, but I’m warning you that if you fail to give me your details, I cannot deal with you in any other way other than that. Are you willing to give me your details or not?”
“No I’m not, not really”, said Tigger. Roo, who was still on Tigger’s back, tickled him behind his ear, not realising the growing gravity of the situation.
“Are you arresting me?”, asked Tigger.
“You are now under arrest” replied the Policeman. The animals spontaneously howled their disapproval. Kanga grabbed Roo who was screaming inconsolably. Tigger sat down defiantly but was dragged to his feet and led away to a waiting prison van.
“But Tigger’s my bestest every friend. What we happen to him?” sobbed Roo, as Kanga clutched him to her breast, fighting back her own tears. This was not the world in which she wanted Roo to grow up.
First Eeyore, now Tigger. Christopher Robin and his friends watched in dejected disbelief as Tigger was driven away.
In which Rabbit’s relations are removed from their tower, and Rabbit has a cunning plan.
You will remember in Chapter 4, that Small and Squirrel, two of Rabbit’s friends and relations, climbed a tower that the animals had built at night, and had refused to come down. Meanwhile Tigger had been arrested after bumping into a policeman.
Tigger was released from arrest later the same day, after he had accepted a caution. Owl, wearing his Legal Observer jacket, had told him not to accept a caution because it meant that he had admitted that he had done wrong, but Tigger said that he really didn’t care what the police said or did so long as they didn’t stop him bouncing. Roo was just glad to get his best friend back. That night he sneaked into Tigger’s bed, sucked his thumb and fell asleep happy again.
But what, you may ask, happened to Squirrel and Small, defiantly remaining atop their Strong and Stable tripod tower?
When Tigger was arrested, Christopher Robin’s friends were so upset that Squirrel and Small told the police officers, very Nicely and Politely, that if they wanted them down from the teepee tower, they would have to carry them down, because they were not going to come down willingly.
Christopher Robin grinned at Rabbit. “The tower would take my weight and your weight, and even Pooh’s weight, so long as he doesn’t eat too much honey, but it won’t take a police officer’s weight, even if they could find a small thin one. Eeyore looked along the ranks of officers towering over him. “I suspect that they don’t have any small thin ones on duty”, he observed astutely.
“I once floated on a balloon to try to get some honey from a tree”, remembered Pooh. “Perhaps the police could try that”. Piglet reminded Pooh that they were not there to help the police, and Pooh nodded. “Just a thought really”, and he began a hum.
“On the tower are Squirrel and Small
The policemen don’t like it,
don’t like it at all.
The police are too fat
to climb up to the top.
What they need
is a thin tiny cop.
Which, they don’t have”, added Pooh, so I haven’t helped them.
I began to get dark. Thirty police officers still surrounded the tower. Suddenly a white van arrived and was let through the police cordon. Three men, wearing helmets and carrying climbing ropes, leapt out of the van and began to unload poles and clips. On their backs were written the words ‘Protester Removal Team’. With much hilarity from the watching protesters, they began to build their own tower next to the tepee tripod.
“It looks a bit like your Lego”, said Piglet to Christopher Robin.
“Mmm. More like my Meccano set I would say”, replied Christopher Robin. “They don’t seem to be very good at building; it’s a bit wobbly.”
“Perhaps they should fix it to the Strong and Stable tower, to stop their Meccano tower swaying about” suggested Eeyore.
As the sun set behind the trees, the Protester Removal Team’s tower grew level with Squirrel and Small. They had a tiny helmet, which they put onto Squirrel’s head, before strapping him onto a stretcher to lower him down. Squirrel pointed out that he had been climbing trees since he was a few week’s old but the police muttered about health, safety and duty of care. Eeyore shouted up that if they really cared about health and safety they wouldn’t be supporting the fracking industry. The police officers ignored him, except for the Evidence Gatherer policeman who turned his camera on Eeyore.
“You’re not getting my best side”, said Eeyore to the camera man, “and do you think your colleagues at the police station can let me have my tail back?”
Carefully, Squirrel was lowered down by stretcher. Small, the beetle, was lowered down on a piece of string inside a matchbox. At the bottom they were both arrested and driven away in a van. Christopher Robin and his friends were not even surprised any more.
As the animals walked back to the Hundred Acre Wood, Christopher Robin reflected on the last few weeks. “Eeyore, Tigger, Squirrel and Small have all been arrested trying to defend their homes. Even Kanga has been jostled by the Police for serving tea in the wrong place. It’s all a bit depressing”. He turned round to see what the others thought. Eeyore and Rabbit were lagging behind and were deep in conspiratorial conversation, and Eeyore, yes Eeyore, was grinning.
“What’s so funny?” shouted Christopher Robin. Rabbit caught up with the others.
“Need to know basis Christopher Robin”, said Rabbit, tapping the side of his nose and nodding his head sideways towards Pooh, Piglet, Kanga, Tigger, Roo and assorted Friends and Relations. “I’ll tell you the details later, when you’re on your own. What I will say is that I have some distant relations from The Wild Wood, who are very skilled at climbing. ‘Professionals’, you might say. What they are planning will cheer us all up, and will make the police and the fracking company look very silly. Tomorrow will be a good day, I can promise you that.”
In which Rabbit’s cousins climb the fracking rig and animals have a party.
Pooh was having a dream. He was holding onto a balloon and was floating about a bees’ nest. The rich smell of golden honey made his mouth water. Suddenly there was a squall of wind and Pooh was thrown about in the air. He woke up to find Piglet shaking him, and wiped his dribble on the edge of his pillow.
“Wake up Pooh, something Wonderful And Momentous has h-h-h happened!”
Piglet could hardly get his words out in all his excitement.
“Some of Rabbit’s distant cousins have come all the way from The Wild Wood, and being skilled climbers they have climbed the work-over rig over the fracking well. Everything has had to stop until they come down”
Pooh yawned, scratched, and wiped his chin again. “We’ll not see much from the gates. The work-over rig is a long way off”.
“That side of the rig is almost in the Hundred Acre Wood”, replied Piglet, whose ear tips had now turned red with excitement. “We can walk along the old bridleway and get right up against the fracking site fence.
After a short while, Pooh and Piglet were hurrying at a trot along the bridleway. Pooh thought what a Brave and Noble Bear he was being by missing his breakfast to support his friends. As they approached the back of the fracking site they could hear a buzz of excitement. What a wonderful site greeted them. There was a campfire on which a kettle sat, alongside a pan of frying breakfast. There was a long picnic table full of cakes, bread, biscuits, marmalade and yes, a jar of honey! Pooh told himself that this really was going to be a good day.
Christopher Robin came over to meet them.
“Where have you been, silly old bear? Piglet came to fetch you hours ago”.
Pooh edged towards the picnic table, found two slices of bread, spread one of them thickly with honey and made a large sandwich. “I’m glad we came.” He said to Piglet.
Many of Rabbits friends and Relations were there, scurrying about between the people. Tigger was bouncing about, getting muddy in the freshly ploughed field. Eeyore had found a thistle patch near the hedgerow, and was having a second breakfast. There was even a television reporter there interviewing people. Every so often, lit by the autumn sunshine, the three squirrels up the tower would appear from beneath a tarpaulin and wave to the assembled crowd. Everyone below would cheer and wave back.
“There’s only two policemen here, and two liaison officers,” said Christopher Robin.
“Some might say the rest are too fat to walk here” said Eeyore, “but I couldn’t possibly comment”.
“It can’t be that”, said Rabbit, “the two that are here were dropped off in a van.”
Just then, on the other side of the barbed wire fence, two Evidence Gatherer policemen appeared and started to systematically film all the faces of the people present at the celebration party.
Pooh licked the last of the sandwich off his sticky paws and began a hum.
“Our policemen don’t walk, they arrive in a van
They shout and they kettle, they video scan
the faces of people and animals too
How silly! They don’t need to photograph Pooh.
Because”, explained Pooh, “I am a Polite and Law Abiding Bear who is a Threat to Nobody”.
“What do they do with all the hours of video pictures?” Piglet asked.
“Secret files and wotnot” said Eeyore “Database of domestic activists for the secret services”.
Piglet shook his head in disbelief. “I’m not an activist, I’m just a small pig who wants to defend his home.
Meanwhile, on the fracking rig, it was beginning to get very windy. There was a storm on the way. The humans had named it ‘Brian’: not the scariest name for a storm, especially if you are a squirrel used to living in trees.
As the squirrels rested and chatted to each other, a human head popped up on their platform. “Hello” he said, in his best Friendly and Non-threatening Voice, “Don’t be alarmed, I have some safety harnesses for you. We don’t want you to fall”
The three squirrels stared blankly back. “We’re squirrels” they chorused. “Climbing is what we do”.
“Yes”, said the friendly man, but it’s health and safety…..”
“Hmm”, said one of the squirrels, nothing to do with public relations? I can see the press release ‘Squirrels’ safety is of paramount importance to our company’. Next thing you’ll be telling the world that you are coming to ‘rescue’ us”.
And of course, that is exactly what the press release said the following day, when tired, cold and hungry, the squirrels were harnessed to humans, lowered to the ground and lead away by waiting police. One of the ‘rescuers’ smiled at the lady squirrel. “That climb was very impressive” he said. “Well done!”
After all the excitement of the day, Pooh and Piglet decided to walk home by the road, the field and bridleway having become very muddy.
As they walked along in companionable, satisfied silence, a lorry came round the bend. It had just gone past them when the nearside rear wheel hit a pothole, and an enormous steel drum bounced off the back and landed on the road with a dull thud. The lorry kept going and disappeared into the distance.
“It’s growing dark” said Piglet. “A car might run into it! We need to roll it out of the way”.
However hard they pushed, it would not budge. The fall had dented one side. When they shook it, there was no sound of liquid as you might expect. Pooh peered at the writing on the drum. He could see that there was an H at the start of a word and a Y at the end of the word, two letters he recognised, but that was as far as he could read. Then he sniffed.
“Piglet, I know what is in this drum. Honey!”
It was more honey than Pooh had every seen in one go. With the strength of ten bears, he wrestled with the cap, which was near the top away from the road surface. Nevertheless, a thick stream of delicious honey flowed out.
“Piglet”, said Pooh “ I know it’s not mine, but it is a Danger to Road Users. If I eat some it might make the drum easier to roll.”
Pooh plunged his chubby arm deep into the drum. There was a grunt and an alarmed whimper.
“Piglet!” he shouted “My arm is stuck inside this drum and I’m in the middle of the road!”
In which Pooh invents the lock-on by mistake, and the animals get a Christmas Surprise.
Continued from Chapter 6
“Piglet!” he shouted “My arm is stuck inside this drum and I’m in the middle of the road!”
“I’ll run for help”, said Piglet. No sooner had he broken into a run, when Christopher Robin appeared through the twilight.
“Christopher Robin” squealed Piglet “Pooh has his paw in a huge drum of honey and it’s stuck and he’s in the middle of the road and a car will come and run him over and he’ll be squashed flat.” With that, he burst into tears.
Christopher Robin gave him a big hug and held Piglet’s hand as they approached a forlorn Pooh, his paw, up to his elbow, firmly stuck inside the drum.
“Silly old Bear,” said Christopher Robin. He took off his jacket and rolled up his right sleeve. Piglet usually got excited at the sight of Christopher Robin’s blue braces, but he was far too worried, and anyway it was too dark to enjoy them properly.
“I’ll get you out Pooh”, and Christopher Robin, and carefully he slid his arm down by the side of Pooh’s furry, sticky paw and into the drum of honey. There was a moment’s silence, before Christopher Robin cleared his throat.
“Hrrrum, herrrum. Pooh, Piglet, my arm is stuck.”
By now, it was very dark.
Piglet was about to begin a Heroic Run For Help, when against a silver sky, Owl appeared. Christopher Robin, Pooh and Piglet explained what had happened. Owl found a handy nearby branch and settled down to think. After what seemed like an age, he announced his conclusion.
“As I see it”, said Owl sagely, “the emollient properties of oil are not shared with the viscoid properties of honey, and hence the current predicament which Christopher Robin and Pooh are experiencing at the present time.”
“Yes we know all that,” said Piglet, “but what can we do about it ?”
“We need an artificial illumination that will not be extinguished by the convection currents of a nocturnally cooling atmosphere,” explained Owl.
“He means a candle in a jam jar,” Christopher Robin explained to Pooh.
“Having neither the appropriate dorsal muscles or the aerodynamic capacity for carrying such illumination, I shall fetch Rabbit.” And with that, Owl flew away through the trees in the direction of the Hundred Acre Wood.
It seemed an age before help came, and meanwhile Piglet procured a long branch which he grasped tightly, ready to wave should a car come along. But the road, not busy at the best of times, remained deserted except for a tiny pig, a small boy and a rotund bear. By and by, the sound of chattering voices on the still air announced the arrival of the rescue party. Tigger arrived first, with Owl, followed by Rabbit, with the candle, and Eeyore. Behind them came Kanga, carrying a sleepy Roo and a basket with sandwiches with a large flask of tea.
Apart from being able to put the light in the middle of the road, there was nothing the animals could do to help release Pooh and Christopher Robin. All the animals collected firewood and Kanga lit a campfire. The animals gathered around it, and dozed and talked until dawn.
Rabbit was the first to hear the distant sound of a large lorry approaching. Piglet got ready to wave his branch and the others raced in the direction of the truck to warn the driver. But the truck was not alone. It was escorted by a police car and a van, full of police officers. Obviously the truck was carrying equipment for the fracking site.
The two police officers from the car were the first to stand over the large drum of honey blocking the road, with a small boy and a Pooh Bear firmly attached. There was no way that the lorry was going to get past.
The driver of the police car was tempted to say “Hello hello, what’s going on here?” but realising that would have been a cliché, he said “Now then, can someone explain what is happening here?” All the animals spoke at once, and the policeman asked them to stop.
For all the pulling and twisting they tried, not one policeman could free the captives. The lorry remained stuck too, the lane being too narrow and bendy to go back., and diversions were hurriedly put in place.
A senior officer eventually arrived on the scene, and appraised the situation. “Fetch the angle grinder.” He said.
With everything in place, Christopher Robin and Poor were carefully covered to save them any injury, and a burly officer in protective googles and helmet stood astride the drum. The angle grinder kicked into action and the officer plunged the whirring abrasive wheel into the drum. A wide, sticky streak of honey decorated the policeman: from his fly buttons, up the front of his high vis jacket, over his chin and up his nose, across his goggles and onto his helmet. He was heard to say a very rude word. Piglet blushed and Kanga covered Roo’s ears. Pooh looked around for the duck he thought the police officer had mentioned, but decided it must have flown away.
As the animals walked home, Pooh found enough honey in his fur to have breakfast. He was trying hard not to think about all that wasted honey which had leaked from the drum and had been washed away by the policemen. The fact that Rabbit’s ant friends and relations would have enough to eat for months was no consolation.
Eeyore, who had filled his tum with thistles as they walked, was in thoughtful mood, and he said to Rabbit “For how long did Pooh’s stupidity delay that lorry, bearing in mind that the fracking site costs £200,000 pound each day to keep going, so time really is money?”
“About three hours,” said Rabbit, “Why?”
“Nothing.” Replied Eeyore, and he very nearly smiled. “Nothing at all.”
Although even Christopher Robin did not properly understand it, due to some mix up in the administrative red tape, autumn turned to winter, and still no fracking had started at the well. One evening in late December, as the animals sat around a blazing log fire outside of the camp, and Kanga was serving tea from her new caravan, they heard the sound of Christmas music. Coming along the road was Santa Claus in a sledge covered in fairy lights, pulled by a farmer’s tractor. As the sledge got to the animals, it stopped, and Santa shouted,
“Happy Christmas everyone, Happy Christmas, and thank you all for your dedication in trying to keep the Hundred Acre Wood safe.”
“Happy Christmas Santa, shouted the animals back, ”Happy Christmas everyone.”
In which all the animals have a Christmas Eve sleep-over at Christopher Robin’s House, and undo their presents together on Christmas morning.
On the edge of the wood, in a large cottage, Christopher Robin lived. For every Christmas Eve since Christopher Robin had been a toddler, the animals had a sleep-over in his bedroom, so that in the morning they could all open their presents together.
On this Christmas Eve in the Hundred Acre Wood, fracking had still not started, due to the boss of the well, Mr Dewar McTavish, getting his official pieces of paper mixed up when he sent them to the Houses of Parliament in London. Christopher Robin had tried to explain this to the animals, and said that he had been there once, and it wasn’t houses at all but Big Ben was there. He had seen it when he went to Buckingham Palace with his nurse Alice, before she had married one of the guards.
Most of the animals, and Christopher Robin, were asleep by 10.00 pm, because they had all been told many times that Santa would not bring them presents so long as they were awake. At midnight, Eeyore and Rabbit were still whispering conspiratorially about things they could do to hold up the traffic to the fracking site without inconveniencing the local people. Eeyore had lots of ideas about what they could put inside a steel drum instead of honey, though he still enjoyed the moment that the police officer had been plastered with a wide streak of honey when he released Pooh and Christopher Robin with his angle grinder.
Roo woke up first, and his squeals of excitement on seeing the enormous pile of presents at the foot of Christopher Robin’s bed quickly woke everyone else. Except Pooh. Pooh was dreaming about owning his own beehive full of friendly bees who would make him as much honey as he could eat. It was a dream he had a lot, and he had shared it with Piglet many times.
“Pooh, wake up sleepy head! Santa’s been. I want to open my present,” squealed Roo in Pooh’s ear.
Pooh opened one eye to find his field of vision obscured by Roo bouncing up and down.
“Roo dear,” explained Kanga patiently, “it’s not very nice to use Pooh’s tummy as a trampolene.”
Christopher Robin handed out the presents. Everyone got a parcel except Pooh. Pooh felt deflated, but he did his best to keep smiling and be pleased for everyone else. Piglet, who had been anxious about Pooh’s disappointment, ambled over to Pooh’s side and whispered, “I think your present might be outside, because Santa told me it was too big to bring indoors.” Pooh brightened up a little. He was dying to look, but realised it was Good Manners to wait until everyone had opened theirs indoors.
“I think you better open yours first Roo, before you burst,” said a smiling Christopher Robin.
Roo tore frantically at the wrapping paper to reveal a strange metal object he hadn’t seen before. “Thank you said Roo, remembering his manners, “It’s what I’ve always wanted….. What is it?”
“Santa told me that Tigger has the same present, only bigger, said Kanga. “Open yours Tigger.”
With much curiosity, Tigger opened his strange metal object. “What is it?” he asked.
“They’re pogo sticks,” said Christopher Robin. “I’ll show you how to use them.” And he bounced around the bedroom on Tigger’s present.
In no time at all, Tigger and Roo were bouncing around outside on the lawn overlooked by the bedroom, where Kanga could keep an eye on them. Roo was shouting, “Tigger we’ll be able to pogo near the security men at the fracking well and see over the hedge at what they’re doing.” Roo liked saying ‘fracking well’ and ‘frack off’ because it sounded naughty without getting you into trouble.
“And we can make those fracking dogs bark too,” replied Tigger, who liked saying the word ‘fracking’ as much as Roo did.
The room was a lot quieter with Tigger and Roo outside. “Open your present next next Eeyore,” suggested Christopher Robin.
“Humbug,” said Eeyore, “but thank you for the kind thought.” Inside the wrapping paper was the cosiest, warmest waterproof donkey blanket that Eeyore had ever seen. Wrapped inside the blanket was a padded envelope with the words ‘POLICE EVIDENCE’ written on it. On the back of the envelope, was a handwritten note, which said,
I arrested you outside of the fracking well. Please find inside, your tail, with no hard feelings. Have a good Christmas.’
“I appear to have something in my eye,” said Eeyore, sniffing. “Thank you everyone, this blanket will keep me dry at the well gates when I am protecting the environment.”
He wanted to keep his blanket on, but Kanga told him that if he did he “wouldn’t feel the benefit’ when he went outside. So he took it off and Kanga sewed his tail back on with strong button thread so that it would never fall off ever again.
“Kanga” unwrap your present, said Eeyore.
“I don’t need a present,” Kanga said,” it’s enough for me that Roo has one. Besides, you all got me that lovely catering caravan.”
But urged by the others, she undid her present to find a splendid pair of orange rubber gloves, for washing up in her caravan.
Next was Owl. With his sharp feet he scratched at the paper to reveal a pair of what appeared to be broken plastic glasses. “It’s the felicitatious thought that counts, announced Owl, “I thank you all.”
“They’re not broken,” said Piglet, they’re Click Frame glasses, and they attach at the front. You can wear them when you fly, because I know that glasses on a cord get caught in the trees, but these will not.”
“I knew that, little Piglet,” said Owl, “but thank you for explaining it to the others. Being so light, they will not strain my dorsal muscles.”
“Can Piglet go next?” asked Pooh.
Piglet blushed with embarrassment and excitement. “If I must,” said Piglet, feverishly wrestling with the paper but trying to look nonchalant.
Inside was a large box of balloons in every colour of the rainbow, with a canister of air to pump then up, because as Pooh explained to him, a small pig might not have the lung capacity to inflate them unaided. Pooh had remembered his best friend’s disappointment at once having a balloon he generously gave away as a present for Eeyore. Sadly it had burst whilst Piglet ran with it. Now Piglet could burst as many balloons as he liked, and there would always be more.
“Thank you Pooh,” said Piglet, then added hurriedly, “for telling Santa what I wanted,”
Rabbit, there’s just you and me left now, said Christopher Robin.
“And me,” said Pooh, trying not to sound too impatient.
“And Pooh,” said Christopher Robin. “Go on Rabbit.”
Rabbit carefully unwrapped his present, and folded up the paper neatly to put away to use next year, before examining his gift. It was a beautiful leather-bound diary and organiser.
“That’s very appropriate,” said Rabbit, “I shall use it to record all of the events I will be organising at the fracking well for the coming year, unless of course the people who live in the Parliament houses tell Mr Dewar McTavish that he is not allowed to frack.”
“That’s what Santa thought too,” said Christopher Robin, winking at Piglet.
“Just me left then”, said Christopher Robin.
“And me,” said Pooh.
“And you Pooh,” said Piglet, smiling affectionately at his best friend.
Christopher Robin unwrapped the most beautiful pair of braces he had ever seen, and all the animals clapped. Piglet flushed with excitement as Christopher Robin tried them on.
“Thank you everyone, I needed new ones,” said Christopher Robin, “and thank you Santa for delivering them.”
“Can we go outside now?” asked Pooh, “To see if Roo and Tigger are okay?”
“And to find your present,” said Piglet, who by this time was filled with as much excitement and anticipation as Pooh Bear.
“Oh yes, that as well,” said Pooh, trying not to sound too eager.
In the garden, on the sheltered South-facing side of Christopher Robin’s garden, Pooh found his present. For a moment he stood, unable to speak.
“Do you like it Pooh?” asked Piglet anxiously.
“It’s my dream come true,” exclaimed Pooh. “Have I ever mentioned that I regularly dream of having my own beehive Piglet?”
“You might have mentioned it once or twice Pooh,” replied Piglet.
Rabbit joined them. “What do you think Pooh?” he asked. “The bees are distant relations of mine.”
”I’m thinking of my own home-grown honey for tea this afternoon,” replied Pooh.
“Sorry.” said Rabbit, “In the winter, the bees need the honey for themselves. That’s why they make it. You can have some in the summer.”
“Okay,” said Pooh amenably, “I’ve got a larder full of jars until then.”
He knocked on the side of the hive and shouted ‘hello’ to his new friends. Six sleepy bees flew out, and suddenly Piglet decided that he would go indoors to check on his box of balloons.
After a huge Christmas dinner sitting around a table with Christopher Robin’s Mother and Father, Piglet and Pooh returned to the Hundred Acre Wood together. Pooh had decided to leave his bees in the shelter of the garden until the Spring. He carried Piglet’s box of balloons for him and Piglet trotted along beside, with three small steps to each of Pooh’s robust strides. Each was bursting to tell the other that the best present ever was their idea, not Santa’s, but neither wanted to destroy the magic. Piglet was first to address the dilemma.
“Pooh,” he said, I thought of the beehive for you, so isn’t it amazing how Santa Claus could read my mind and get it for you?”
“It is amazing Piglet, but it’s because Santa is magic and Christmas is a magical time of year. I thought about getting the balloons for you too.”
“Thank you Pooh,” said Piglet, “I thought you did.” They held hands for the rest of the way home.
“Next year could be a good year,” said Pooh thoughtfully. If Mr Big Ben in his London Parliament house, and the Queen in Buckingham Palace tell Mr McTavish that he will never be allowed to frack the Hundred Acre Wood, then this could be a very good year.”
Piglet nodded “And even if Mr McTavish is allowed to frack here, the hard time we’ve given him so far might make him think very carefully before fracking anywhere else.”
“He can frack off,” said Pooh
“Yes, frack off Mr Dewar McTavish”, said Piglet, and they both giggled like naughty children.
In which Christopher Robin and Friends go to a Council Meeting, there is a raffle for seats, and Eeyore gets left out in the cold.
Piglet and Pooh were just finishing breakfast when a note came through the letterbox, followed by a knock on the door.
“That’ll be Rabbit,” said Pooh, “Come in Rabbit.”
Piglet gulped down his last haycorn and Pooh licked the honey from his chin. Rabbit sat down at Pooh’s dining table and looked Important.
“Pay attention, Pooh and Piglet, this is really important. Tonight there is a council meeting.”
“What’s a Cownsell, and who is it meeting?” asked Pooh.
“A council, Pooh,” began Rabbit, “is… is, some important people who look after our interests.” Rabbit was quite pleased with that explanation, even though he had learnt it from Christopher Robin.
“I’m interested in bees and honey,” said Pooh. “Are they too important to look after my bees when I stay at Piglet’s house?”
“Anyway,” said Rabbit impatiently, “the councillors are voting tonight on whether to pay some experts to advise them on fracking. Some of the counsellors want to pay an expert, and some of them think it’s a waste of money. So tonight they are going to have a vote. Lots of people, and all the animals are going along to the meeting to see what happens.
And so it was that, as it got dark, all of Christopher Robin’s animal friends except three, marched on the council offices with banners and placards. Kanga, was at home looking after Roo and Tigger. Tigger wanted to go, and Roo wanted to because Tigger did. Christopher Robin had explained to Tigger that he would have to sit still without bouncing for two hours, so Tigger thought that perhaps he didn’t want to go after all. Kanga said that it would be just a lot of men talking hot air, and Christopher Robin said that there would probably be some women talking hot air too.
In front of the council offices there were huge numbers of people: all wanting to see the hot air spoken inside the council chamber. A man was giving out raffle tickets, and the animals obediently took one each.
“What are these for Christopher Robin?” asked Piglet.
“There’s too many people here to all get in, so they’re holding a raffle for seats”
Pooh explained to anyone who was listening that he could do with a new chair, and Owl explained to Pooh that even if he won one, he had to give it back afterwards.
Eeyore began to get visibly angry. “Suppression and control. Democracy my bottom Pooh! They don’t want us in there in big numbers, so they’ve made up an excuse. ‘Fire regulations’, that’s what they’ll say. Poppycock and disingenuousness. Democracy my bott… arse!”
Then Piglet made a Very Generous Decision. “Christopher Robin,” he said, “If I win a seat, I’ll pretend it was you, and give you my ticket. I think it’s really important that you get in.”
“Thank you Piglet, that’s really kind. If you win, or if I win, quickly get inside my rucksack and I’ll smuggle you in. Two for the price of one. What number is your ticket?”
“16” said Piglet.
“91” said Eeyore, you’re holding the ticket upside down.
“Can I have your attention please!?” shouted a man in a uniform “The first ticket is 91”
All the animals cheered. Piglet clambered into the rucksack and hid under Christopher Robin’s jumper.
Pooh won a seat, and so did Rabbit. Owl found a high open window in the council chamber and watched from the rafters.
The meeting started with some kind councillors complaining about people being left outside. They asked an important looking man with a gold chain round his neck why they meeting wasn’t being held somewhere else so that more people could have watched. Many of the councillors didn’t seem that bothered about people being left out in the cold.
“Some of these councillors don’t seem very nice Christopher Robin,” Piglet whispered.
“Some of them like the Prime Minister who lives in the Parliament house near the Queen.” My father says that they are not very nice.
The meeting went on for a very long time, with councillors standing up and talking into microphones on long bendy stalks. Pooh didn’t really understand what was going on, but he noticed that sometimes everyone who won the raffle clapped except for one large human in the front row. When she clapped, nobody else did. Pooh was puzzled by this, but he thought it best not to say anything.
After what seemed to Pooh like many hours, the Important Man with the Gold Chain said it was time to vote. The councillors pressed some buttons and some shapes appeared on a large screen. All of the animals, and the people filed out in sombre mood, except for the lone clapper, who looked pleased.
“Did we win Christopher Robin?” asked Piglet as they filed out.
“No, we lost,” said Christopher Robin. “All the councillors who like Mrs Prime Minister in the Parliament house voted together, you could see it on the screen.
“I couldn’t,” said Pooh.
Outside was Eeyore. A cold Eeyore, A despite-his-donkey-blanket –thoroughly-chilled-and-miserable Eeyore.
“Excuse my lack of mobility signalling my pleasure at being reunited with you all,” said Eeyore, “but my hooves appear to be frozen to this puddle.”
“Oh Eeyore!” exclaimed Christopher Robin, “I’m so sorry you got left outside. Wouldn’t the council staff even let you stand in the lobby to warm up?”
“They would not,” replied Eeyore. All the policemen were inside keeping warm, laughing and drinking coffee, but me? No. Not even to use the lavatory. So I have weed a large wee onto the council tarmacadam.
“I’m really sorry Eeyore,” repeated Christopher.
“Don’t mention it Christopher Robin. Icicles and wotnot,” said Eeyore. “Democracy has been served. My arse. Can we go home now?”
In which the animals have a Valentine’s Day party and the fracking company move lots of equipment.
“It’s Valentine’s day tomorrow” said Piglet to Pooh.
Pooh thought for a minute. “Is that when people send other people cards with hearts on?”
“Some people do,” said Piglet, “if they love them.”
“I love you Piglet,” said Pooh, “so does that mean I should get you a card?”
Piglet’s cheeks and ears turned bright red. “I love you too Pooh, but don’t think it means that kind of love. We both love the Hundred Acre Wood. All the animals and Christopher Robin love where we live. I thought that tomorrow we could have a party, to celebrate loving where we live. Let’s go and find Christopher Robin to ask him what he thinks.
They found Christopher Robin in a field with lots of thistles, watching Eeyore having his breakfast.
“Hello Pooh and Piglet!” he shouted, “Isn’t this a nice crisp sunny day? They all agreed that it was, except Eeyore, who had a mouth full of thistles.
“Christopher Robin,” began Piglet nervously, “It’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow. I thought we could have a ‘Love Where You Live’ party and have it outside of the fracking well gates to show that we don’t want our beautiful countryside spoilt.”
Eeyore swallowed hard on his current thistle. “A kind but ineffectual idea, little Piglet. Where’s the banners, the arrests and the direct action in that?”
“I think there’s room for all kinds of protests and all sorts of people Eeyore. Everyone needs to do what they feel comfortable with. Piglet, I think it’s a really good idea.”
All four of them went together to find Rabbit. “A party you say?” asked Rabbit, trying hard not to show his irritation that he hadn’t thought of it first. “It’s quite short notice to organise, and as we all know, Kanga, who is very good at party food, has been poorly lately, we don’t want to burden her with this venture.”
“I’m sure we’ll manage, with or without Kanga,” said Christopher Robin “though it would be lovely if she could be there. Ah, here’s Owl.”
Owl swooped down and landed on a nearby branch.
“Owl,” said Rabbit. “Piglet has rather belatedly suggested a Valentine party for tomorrow, but Christopher Robin is supporting the notion.”
“Saint Valentine,” said Owl “A saint more of legend than substantive fact, but I believe very popular with those of a romantic disposition would you agree Rabbit?”
“Never mind that.,” said Rabbit, “Can you go and tell Kanga, Tigger and Roo? Time is of the essence in these inconvenient circumstances.”
“Message received and understood,” replied Owl, and he saluted Rabbit with his wing before flying away between the trees.
“We better start getting ready then”, said Christopher Robin. “Pooh and Piglet, come back to my house. Piglet I have just the thing to keep your ears warm on a cold morning. Pooh I have something you might like too.”
“Try these on Piglet,” said Christopher Robin, back at Christopher Robin’s cottage.
“They look like headphones,” said Piglet.
“Silly Piglet!” said Christopher Robin. “They look like headphones, but they’re warm and furry earmuffs”
Piglet wasn’t convinced. “My ears are long and these are round,” he explained.
“Well put them on,” suggested Christopher Robin, “then tuck your ears up inside.”
Piglet tried this, and walked around to get used to them. He could see that Piglet and Pooh were talking to each other, but apart from a muffled noise, he couldn’t hear a word they were saying. “That must be why they’re called earmuffs” he thought to himself.
Pooh was trying on a splendid woollen waistcoat. Piglet could tell that Pooh was pleased with it. “The buttons do up as well Pooh!” he shouted, then realised he had sounded surprised, and added, “which is what I would expect from a well proportioned bear like you.”
The following morning was, as Christopher Robin had forecast, very cold. Piglet had stayed at Pooh’s house so as to be ready for an early start. Once they had finished their breakfast, Pooh tried on his woollen waistcoat and admired himself in his mirror.
“I am indeed a well proportioned bear, as you say Piglet. So long as it is over the top of my tummy, the buttons do up perfectly. And it is a Very Warm Thing To Wear.” He let out a contented sigh. I love where we live Piglet.
“And I love you Pooh,” replied Piglet. “Happy Valentine’s Day.”
When Pooh and Piglet got to the gates of the fracking well, everyone else was already there. There were many humans, including children, most of them clutching teddy bears, which Pooh thought was very complimentary.
Compared to recent times when they had been at the gates, there was an air of excitement and anticipation. Christopher Robin greeted them.
“Hello you two, something is happening over on the well pad. Owl has gone to have a look by flying over it. He’ll be back in a minute. Some of the humans who were here last week watched lots of big lorries taking heavy equipment away from the site. It’s almost as though the frackers are giving up and going away.”
Just then Owl returned and perched on the back of a chair. The animals and lots of the people gathered around him to hear his report.
“There are various tubular accoutrements being disengaged from machinery and a number of operatives in helmets are perambulating purposely around the site. I have observed a number of vehicular movements all of which suggest an exodus from immediate business activities.”
“What did he say?” Pooh whispered to Rabbit.
“The frackers are packing up and going home, explained Rabbit, “at least for now”.
“Will they be back?” asked Pooh.
“Who knows?” volunteered Eeyore, I am given to understand that they need permission from a Mr Gregory Clark in the Houses of Parliament before they are allowed to start fracking. He wants to be sure that they have the money to finish what they start, and perhaps they don’t have enough pennies for Mr Clark to be happy with the project.”
All day long, huge cranes and empty lorries went into the gates, and later the same trucks would emerge carrying enormous containers and pieces of heavy equipment. There were more policemen there than the animals had ever seen: far more that there were people, Each time lorries appeared, the police men and women lined up shoulder to shoulder in a solid line and slowly marched the people out of the way of the gates. Then they retreated into the warmth of their vans until the next convoy was due.
During a quiet time, when most of the police had gone away, a lady who had been organising the Teddy Bears’ Picnic, came over and asked the animals if they would go over to meet the children.
“Would you mind waving to the children so that I can take a photograph? Children wave to Christopher Robin and his friends.”
All the children waved, and all the animals waved back. This is the photograph.
In which the Enormous Rig leaves the fracking well, and Piglet does a Very Brave Thing.
You will remember that for more than three weeks, the animals had been watching the fracking site near the Hundred Acre Wood being slowly dismantled. The company had been telling the newspapers that they were simply moving equipment to their other operations whilst they waited for permission from Mr Clark in the Parliament House to say they could start work. The animals and the humans they talked to thought that this sounded like a bit of a fracking fib.
Piglet had just washed down his breakfast haycorns with a glass of milk, when Rabbit let himself in.
“Good morning Piglet,” said Rabbit. “Owl flew over the fracking site last night. By the state of things, we’re pretty sure that the company will be bringing off the well rig today. This morning, very early, an enormous flat truck went onto the site. It can only be to bring the rig off; There’s nothing else much left other than big tanks of water, buckets and spades, that sort of thing.”
“ Does Pooh know?” asked Piglet.
“Christopher Robin is telling everyone else. “ replied Rabbit. “He said to meet him at the fracking well gates. He likes to go on a Monday, because there are often people there playing music.”
Piglet wiped his mouth on the corner of the tablecloth and put his bowl and glass in the sink to wash up later. He could see that Rabbit was getting impatient.
“You go on ahead Rabbit, don’t wait for me, I won’t be long,” he volunteered.
Before Piglet could say “goodbye and thanks for calling”, Rabbit was no more that a powder-puff tail disappearing into the distance.
Piglet put on a warm coat and scarf. He tried on the earmuffs that Christopher Robin had given him, but thought better of it, and left them on the kitchen table.
It was a cold breezy day, and tiny snowflakes danced around his rosy face as Piglet made his way alone to the fracking well gate. It was much busier than some Mondays had been, and there was an air of anticipatory excitement. A few musicians had come and were playing music. Further along the road a loudspeaker was playing an old music hall song which Piglet’s father had taught him. It was called ‘The Laughing Policeman’. Piglet didn’t think that on a day like this the policemen would be laughing very much. They all had warm woolly hats on today. Piglet thought that dressed like this, they commanded less respect than in the old days when they wore proper helmets and saluted when they passed you.
Pooh and Christopher Robin greeted Piglet with their usual hugs. Eeyore came forward too.
“Greetings little Piglet,” said Eeyore. “An auspicious occasion, though largely symbolic. Closing down sale, a hundred percent off selected items, including fracking rigs. Jubilation and wotnot. Ho hum.”
Piglet went to Kanga’s caravan and got himself a snack. It was nice to see Kanga back behind the counter looking a lot better after she had been a bit poorly lately.
Tigger and Roo were playing tig around the caravan and annoying the birds on the feeders in the hedge behind the caravan. Some of the birds were Rabbits Friends and Relations and they waved. Others were migrants from overseas or from other parts of the country. Piglet thought that it was nice that the protectors were feeding them and making them feel welcome, as part of their care for the countryside they were trying to protect.
It was a long day, for the policemen and women, for the humans and for the animals. Every so often the police would emerge from the warmth of their vans and spread out along the road. Empty trucks and tankers would go onto the site, the gates would close and the police would melt away to the warmth of their vehicles. Then they would reappear in huge numbers as the tankers of water and trucks of equipment were carried away. It began to get dark, but still there was no sign of what everyone had come to wave off. Then Owl swooped down and landed on a stack of pallets being used as a vantage point.
“There are no remaining impediments to the safe vehicular relocation of the primary object of interest in the current temporal context. One can expect its imminent mobilisation onto the public highway.”
“What did he say Piglet?” asked Pooh.
“I think they are bringing the rig off very soon,” explained Piglet.
He was not wrong. More police vans than had been present earlier began to arrive, and discharged their loads of black and yellow woolly-hatted officers. They took up positions to keep the humans and animals from rushing into the road and holding up the convoy that was forming, with a police escort front and rear. Christopher Robin was perched on top of a van, filming events. He shouted’ “I can see the rig coming towards the exit!”
Piglet shouted up to him.
“Please can I come up there with you? I can’t see much from here.”
The animals helped Piglet onto the roof of the van, and he felt brave and not a little important from this superior viewing platform. He was used to seeing police officers boots, knees and not much else. Now he was Pig Of All He Surveyed, and even the policemen seemed much smaller than he had perceived them before.
The rig finally arrived at the exit and the crowd broke into a victorious rendition of “We Are the Champions”. The rig was so long that it had to shunt back and forth several times in order to manoeuvre its way out of the gates onto the narrow country lane. Even then it nearly went into a ditch opposite the gates. Piglet reflected that this really was not the environment to develop heavy industry: near to a quiet village and right opposite a dairy farm.
Clear of the gate, very slowly the huge articulated low loader inched forward towards the village. In front of it , behind it and on either side, a wall of police officers was there to protect it in its lawful business. Or to keep the crowds watching it safely in their legal right to protest, depending on one’s viewpoint Piglet wondered if it there was room for it to get past his van. As it drew alongside him, moving forward very cautiously. Piglet did the most spontaneous thing he had ever done in his whole life. He jumped.
Over the heads of the surprised policemen he leaped. Roo, down below on the grass, squeaked in admiration.
“Piglet’s jumped on the fracking rig! Piglet’s jumped on the fracking rig!”
Piglet clutched on tightly to the side of the rig. Watched by the helpless police officers and cheered on by the crowd, Piglet hauled himself onto the top of the rig, which by now had ground to a halt.
Very quickly, the police moved the people and animals back away from the truck to create a ‘sterile area’, a term which Kanga had always found strange given the amount of dairy cow poo on everyone’s feet.
Now Piglet felt rather isolated, very cold, and a little frightened of what would happen to him next. He knew that he would be arrested, but he hated the idea of spending the night alone in a cell. After an hour, he reflected that he had made his point. Even if symbolically, he had delayed to rig for a short time. He had stopped it making its journey to another place where it could be used to extract fossil fuel , change the climate and disfigure Mother Nature. Without being asked or ordered, he climbed down with great dignity and was taken away in a police van.
After waving Piglet off to the police station, the animals, with Christopher Robin, made their way through the village. To their great surprise, the enormous truck, surrounded by police officers, vans and blue flashing lights, had become stuck on the hump-backed bridge over Pooh-sticks Beck. With much shouting, scraping noises and demolishing of the tarmacadam surface atop the bridge, the articulated load was ripped along until all the wheels of the trailer with its gargantuan load eventually reached the road surface again, and the convoy continued towards the main road.
“This village really is not a suitable place for big trucks,” Pooh said to anyone who was listening, but mostly to himself.
“I would say it’s been a grand day out”, said Christopher Robin.
“So would we!” shouted back the animals. “Three cheers for Piglet!”
“And three boos for the frackers,” said Eeyore. “Just, …… just frack off.”
In which Christopher Robin and his friends go on a picnic to celebrate the reopening of the footpath through the Hundred Acre Wood.
For several weeks, Christopher Robin and all the animals in the Hundred Acre woods had noticed that what the fracking company told the newspapers, had not matched what they actually appeared to be doing. The humans who lived in the village near the woods, and the animals that could read (Owl and Rabbit) had seen in the paper that Mr Dewar McTavish was going to take some of the equipment off the fracking well to use at another well. Then Mr McTavish had, mysteriously, been replaced by another boss called Mr Linnet, Suddenly, all of the equipment had been taken away from the fracking well, leaving just a giant tap sticking up out of the ground. At first only Owl could see this, but then all the scaffolding around the well that screened the site had been taken down too.
Pooh, Piglet, Rabbit and Eeyore pressed their noses against the perimeter fence and peered at the empty site. Eeyore was the first to speak.
“Coming back in the Autumn my tail!” he said. “Why would they take everything away if they intended to come back in six months? Liars and cheats if you ask me.”
Christopher Robin took a more reasonable tone, but then he’d never been unfairly arrested like Eeyore had.
“If Mr Clark in the Parliament House is going to give them permission, they might come back.”
“Poppycock!” said Eeyore. “Everyone knows Mr Linnet is almost bankrupt. He might sell the well to even badder men, then the fun will really start.”
“How can there be even badder men than Mr Linnet?” asked Pooh.
“Don’t get me started Pooh,” replied Eeyore, “Deceit and wotnot. Overthrowing of the democratic process. Ignoring the will of the people. Invading National parks and stately homes. Corporate greed and climate change. Evil, just evil.”
Pooh didn’t have a clue what Eeyore was talking about, but it sounded bad, and Eeyore was clearly very cross.
Rabbit shaded his eyes against the warm Spring sunshine, and looked towards the gates of the fracking site. “They said that they would reopen the footpath over the summer, now that there are no big trucks going in and out. They don’t seem to be in any hurry to do that.”
“What do you expect from men who wouldn’t recognise the truth if it kicked them up the bottom?” said Eeyore.
“Eeyore, calm down, you’ll upset yourself,” said Piglet.
“Thank you for your concern little Piglet, but it’s being angry that gives me raison d’etre,” Eeyore reassured him. Pooh didn’t know what Raisin Detra was, but he assumed it came with mixed nuts, and possibly a chocolate coating, and probably went well with honey. He found himself drooling, and licked his chops. He made a note to himself to be at Eeyore’s house for elevensies next time Eeyore got angry and some Raisin Detra was delivered.
Christopher Robin turned away from the chain link fence around the well. “Let’s go and find Kanga, Roo and Tigger. They’re up on the road near the gates, with the people that have been living there in caravans. They are all packing up to leave for the summer. Kanga’s tea caravan has already gone, so she’s serving tea from a table again.
At the well gates everyone had been busy tidying up. All the placards and banners that had been attached to the fence had gone. The hedges had been tidied, and people had planted brightly coloured flowers in the hedgerow. A nice man from the council had delivered soil to repair the grass verges trampled by so many muddy feet and rutted by car tyres. Now the protectors of the countryside were raking out the soil and planting grass and wild flower seed. Small birds flitted about the hedge on the feeders of peanuts and fat so kindly supplied by the local people.
“Isn’t it wonderful Pooh,” said Piglet, “to meet so many people who really care about this beautiful countryside, and want it to remain a safe and lovely place to live?”
It is,” said Pooh, and the flowers will bring the bees, and the bees will make honey for me, which can only be good.”
“And grass for Rabbit, and thistles for Eeyore,” added Piglet. He thought for a moment. “Are they planting haycorns to grow into haycorn trees?
“I’m sure they will if you ask them”, replied Pooh.
Kanga was busy serving tea and cake to the busy people. All the policemen had gone “And good riddance to them”, muttered Eeyore. Tigger and Roo were playing hopscotch on the edge of the road and running back to Kanga every time a car came along. Many of the cars hooted their support as they passed. A few made a very rude sign with their middle finger. “Some people,” said Rabbit, wouldn’t be satisfied if the protectors made the field where they camped into a country park, complete with trees, an ornamental lake and a classical Grecian gazebo. You can’t please all of the people all of the time, so let’s not try, I say”.
“Amen”, said Eeyore.
Christopher Robin greeted Kanga. “Thanks for all your hard work here over the long cold wet winter, and I hope you are feeling better than you did.
“Much better, thank you,” said Kanga. “Are you all joining us for a picnic next Tuesday? The footpath into the Hundred Acres Wood that passes the fracking well is being reopened, and we are joining the humans for a celebratory walk and picnic, with music and dancing and singing and stories. There might even be some prayers from the vicar and a bishop.”
“We’ll all be here,” said Christopher Robin. “None of us would want to miss it.”
And so it was that on a Spring day in April, all the people and the animals from the village, from the woods and from the other villages and towns in the dale joined in celebration and thanks that, at least for now, the threat to the Hundred Acre Wood had gone.
The next day, Pooh and Piglet sat in a clearing in the wood with Christopher Robin. Birds were singing and bees buzzed from flower to flower. The stream through the wood gurgled softly over the pebbles and a gentle breeze rustled the dried grass stems from last autumn. The buds on the beech trees were beginning to open.
“Is that the end of the story?” asked Piglet.
“I don’t think there’ll ever be an end,” said Christopher Robin. “So long as there are corrupt politicians, apathetic people and greedy, soulless businessmen, this story will go on. Because for every person who does not care about this earth, for every person willing to put profit before beauty, for every person destroying rather than creating, there are hundreds of us who will fight for the planet, who will dig, and plant and grow. For every tree cut down, more will be planted. Homes will be made for birds and animals. People who care will make sure of that.”
“But is this the end of the story for now?” asked Pooh.
“I hope so,” said Christopher Robin, “I really hope so.”