By Paul Levy
Pooh learns the difference between Forwards and Backwards.
Pooh and the Blue Hat
When Pooh awoke each morning he always stretched his paws in all of the directions he could, yawned a very large yawn, turned over, pulled the blankets tightly about him, and tried to immediately go back to sleep. But no matter how hard he tried he never did. He never could.
“I never can”, thought Pooh, as he tried, but couldn’t. As he tried, but didn’t.
Bright sunshine was streaming in through the window and the noises of the Hundred Acre Wood – the singing of birds and the rustling wind in the trees announced that it was morning.
“Perhaps if I try one last enormous yawn I shall succeed in dropping off” thought Pooh. “After all, a yawn is supposed to be an Announcement That One Is Tired.”
So he yawned. He yawned for a full minute and a half. And when he had stopped yawning, Pooh realised he was now more wide awake than ever.
“Bother!” said Pooh aloud. “I’m not one bit tired after all. I supposed I really shall have to get up. Besides, dropping off is not a good thing. If you do drop off you might land Somewhere Nasty. Bump, bump, bump !”
And with that, he climbed out of bed all the while composing a Very Special Pooh Bumping Song, about which he was very pleased:
Bump ! Bump ! Bump !
Bump ! Bump ! Bump !
Bump ! Bump ! Bump !
That’s a bump, bump, bumping life for me !
After a hearty breakfast of muffins with honey, followed by honey with muffins, Pooh decided to take a walk in the wood. For it really was a beautiful spring morning.
Stepping out into the warm sunshine Pooh skipped lazily along a narrow pathway to the winding stream, all the while merrily humming his new song. As he reached a bend in the path he noticed something bright blue lying in the long grass beside the path.
“It isn’t a flower.” thought Pooh. “for, if it was a flower, then it would look like a flower, and surely it doesn’t. So it isn’t.” He really could be a Very Perceptive Bear for a Bear Of Very Little Brain.
“And it isn’t a mouse.” he further thought. “for, if it was a mouse, then it would squeak like a mouse, and surely it doesn’t. So it isn’t.” Pooh sighed. All of this thinking so early in the morning was making him hungry.
But what could it be ?
The Little Bear reached down and picked up the strange object and stared at it for a long time, turning it over in his paws as he examined it.
At last he exclaimed: “I am not sure what it is, and I am not sure what it is not, but I do feel a curious urge to wear it on my head.
So he did.
It was a perfect fit. It nestled easily between Pooh’s ears upon the crown of his furry head, with a brim which settled comfortably at the back.
“I do believe” concluded Pooh, “that what I have found is most definitely a hat.”
And off he went along the path in search of his friend Piglet to proudly announce the Arrival of the New Hat Upon His Head.
Pooh found Piglet washing his ears in the stream. Piglet liked to wash his ears at least once a week, and he liked to wash them in the stream because the water was cool, but not too cold when it had caught the morning sun for an hour.
“Morning, Piglet.” said Pooh, by way of announcing his arrival.
But Piglet did not reply for his ears were full of spring water.
“Morning Piglet” Pooh repeated, this time more of a bellow. Piglet almost leapt into the air, and turned to his friend, drops of water dripping down his cheeks.
“Ah, good morning Pooh. And how are you this fine morning ?”
“Very well, thank you Piglet. I want you to be the first to celebrate the Arrival of The New Hat Upon My Head.”
Piglet eyed the blue cap. “It truly is a fine hat, Pooh. A very fine, blue, Pooh Hat. But tell me, why are you Back to Front ?”
Pooh frowned. “Back to Front ? What is Back to Front ?”
“Er…Back to Front…Front to Back… something to do with Wrong Way Round.”
“Bother!” said Pooh. “What can you mean ?”
Piglet was not very good at explaining things; certainly not something as complicated as Back to Front. “Perhaps you should ask Rabbit, or Owl.”
“That I shall ! Goodbye Piglet.” said Pooh, and with that, he trudged off along the path which ran beside the stream, muttering coolly to himself: “Front to Back – Back to Front. Dear, oh, dear or dear…”
And Piglet returned to washing his ears. They really didn’t need any more washing, but Piglet did so love doing them !.
Rabbit was hanging out his washing to dry when Pooh marched through the gate into his garden.’
“Morning Rabbit!” said Pooh.
“Good Morning, Pooh,” replied Rabbit not taking his eyes off his linen sheets and wooden clothes pegs.
“Well ?” said Pooh.
“Well, what ?” replied Rabbit, disappearing underneath a huge, white bed sheet.”
“What do you think ?” continued Pooh.
“What do I think ? Well I think a lot a different things. Different things on different occasions” said Rabbit reappearing from behind a newly hung sheet. It was then he noticed the Arrival of the New Hat Upon Pooh’s Head. “Good Heavens !”
“Yes, I suppose they are,” said Pooh, a little confused. “But what do you think of my new hat ? Piglet says it is Front to Back. Or Round way Wrong.”
“Well,” said Rabbit, “If that is what Piglet says then it is he who is Front to Back, I mean, Back to Front. Your very fine, blue hat, dear Pooh, is the Wrong way Round ! And that is no use, no use at all.”
“I don’t understand.” said Pooh, who most definitely did not understand.
“How can I put this, tactfully” said Rabbit. “Well, Pooh, a hat – if it is to be a hat, and not something else such as a…erm.. such as a “Not A Hat”, if it is to be a hat, then it must face the right direction. For, if you do not go in the direction that a hat is facing, then you are clearly going to live out your days … in the opposing direction… to er… the one in which your hat is facing. Do you see what I mean ?”
“Yes.” replied Pooh. Then he thought about it. “On second thoughts, no. Not even a bit.”
Rabbit began to lose patience for, if the truth be told, Rabbit had even confused himself by what he had said. He drew a deep breath and said impatiently: “A hat, Pooh, is not a hat unless it is facing the correct way. And your hat is facing the wrong way. I suggest you get a hat which is facing the right way. Yours is Back to Front.”
“You mean Front to Back?” suggested Pooh.
“No I do not!” exploded Rabbit. “Back to Front ! BACK TO FRONT ! I suggest you go and see Owl about it. Owl is wise. He will know what to do. Good day, Pooh.”
“Good day, Rabbit” said Pooh and turned on his heels and disappeared along the forest path, leaving a very cross Rabbit behind.
As Pooh wandered in the wood he felt troubled by the advice of his two dearest friends. So he decided to find a Quiet Spot and to sit down and have a Serious Think. By chance, the Quiet Spot he chose was also a place he knew had a hive filled with fresh honey in its lowest branches. So he had a Serious Think and a Midmorning Snack.
A half an hour later, Pooh leapt up. “I’ve got it!” he exclaimed. “A hat is NOT a hat unless it faces the direction it wants to go. My hat is Back to Front. So I will simply need to go in the direction that my hat is facing. Then surely my hat will be a Proper Hat.”
So, off he went, walking backwards into the forest, whistling merrily to himself, happy now that his hat was a hat and that it was pointing in the right direction.
Bump ! “Ouch!” cried Pooh as he bumped into a large oak tree. Clunk !Crash!””Oh, dear!” moaned Pooh as he fell backwards over a fence. “Bother!” complained Pooh has he tripped backwards over the root of an old Elm.
And so it went on. As Pooh went on his way, he mused over the difficulty of going about and around and along in the direction of a hat that knew where it was going. “It might very well be forwards for the hat, but it is most certainly backwards for Pooh!” he moaned to himself. “It certainly is not something I would like to…” Plop ! Plonk ! Crump ! Crash. Clump ! And Pooh was upside down and rolling down into a dell covered fortunately in soft, springy moss. Following head over hooves was Eyeore whom Pooh had happened to back into just as he was taking a Gloomy, Standing Doze. Both Bear and Donkey ended in a heap of yellow and grey at the bottom of the dell.
“I AM very sorry, Eyeore. I think I must have missed you there on the path.”
“Missed me ? Missed ME ? “grumbled Eyeore. “I really don’t think so. No one ever misses me. Besides I think you most surely hit me. Still, I suppose it is, after all, not such a bad idea to go backwards. Then you have to say goodbye to all of the things you’ve just said hello to, and you can’t really see what is up ahead, because it is really behind you !”
Pooh and Eyeore picked themselves up and sighed. “I beg your pardon ?” said Pooh.
“Granted” said Eyeore.
“But there really must be a way that I could wear a hat that is pointing in the direction that it wants to go AND for me to be able to point there as well!”
“Oh dear.” sighed Eyeore. “You really do want to go forwards ?”
“Boldly forwards” announced Pooh. “Most definitely, most sincerely, most positively forwards.”
“Then,” began Eyeore, “You will have to turn yourself around – one hundred and eighty degrees.”
“Will I ?” asked Pooh.
Eyeyore sighed a long sigh. “I am afraid so. I am sorry to be the one to tell you. I mean, I wouldn’t expect you… I wouldn’t expect anyone to listen to a suggestion from me. But I might as well suggest it… it does pass the time … and I think it is going to rain. You need to turn around Pooh. Hold onto your hat and … turn around. But it probably won’t work anyway.”
So, heeding the advice of his friend, Pooh took hold of his hat, leapt into the air and spun round, a full hundred and eighty degrees. He gripped the blue cap tightly, so that, though it was a Bear of Very Little Brain who turned about one way, the Blue Hat spun about in exactly the opposite direction !
Pooh breathed a huge sigh of relief.
“Thankyou, Eyeore.” said Pooh, and he set off into the Wood.
“Bother ! Bother ! Bother!” said Pooh a few moments later, as Eyeore appeared to become smaller, for Pooh was once again following the direction of his hat. “it doesn’t seem to have made any difference at all. Goodbye Eyeore.”
“Goodbye, Pooh” said Eyeore now so small he was almost out of sight.
Several bashes, crashes, smashes and several bumps later, Pooh firmly decided that it was time to seek out Owl.
It was late in the afternoon when a very weary, and slightly dizzy bear arrived at the Wolery. Owl was asleep and did not take kindly to being woken up so early in the day.
“There’s nothing for it,” said Pooh to himself. “After all, this is a Very Serious Hat Emergency.”
“Good afternoon, Owl” Pooh called at the top of his voice. A shuffle came from within the Wolery. A grumble and another shuffle.
“Whooooh, is it ?” came a voice from deep inside.
“It is I, of course, Pooh.” Said Pooh. ” Owl, I am extremely sorry to disturb your afternoon nap. I do like a snooze myself at this time of the day. After some tea, of course. However, I am in sore need of your wise advice.”
At the sound of the word “wise”, Owl’s frown softened. He did like it when someone referred to him as “wise”. For that was of course, completely true but it was odd how seldom other people ever said it. In a few seconds, Owl had emerged from his house, stretched his feathers and yawned.
Owl frowned again. “Now, Pooh, what is it that… Good Heavens, where on earth has your face gone ?”
Pooh was of course, facing in the direction his hat wanted to go, so he had his back to owl. With the brim of the hat facing behind, Owl was certain that Pooh’s face had vanished.
“My face has not gone anywhere” said Pooh in a huff. ” On second thoughts, what I mean to say it that my face has gone everywhere. I shall turn around and you shall see it.”
So he did. And there he was. Owl hooted with relief.
“That’s better,” said Owl. “Now what is it that I can do for you, Pooh, in your fine new blue hat that you are wearing Back to Front ?”
“That’s it !” cried Pooh. “That is just it ! My hat is Back to Front which means that, for it to be a hat I have to go in the direction it wants to go which is Front to Back. Which is no good at all. I am tired and I am dizzy. I am weary of everything I leave behind getting smaller and I am tired of bumping into things. Piglet was no help. Rabbit was no help. And Eyeore was no help. Owl, I am at my wit’s end! I need your wisdom.”
Owl smiled to himself. He did like it when people needed his wisdom.
Pooh told Owl of his adventures wih the hat. Owl listened carefully. When Pooh had finished, Owl stepped forward.
He drew up his brows and thought. He thought for a very long time indeed.
“Well Pooh,” he finally began. “The problem is this: you are wearing your hat Back to Front. But for a hat to be a hat it must point in the right direction, which is most certainly not backwards but forwards. Now, Piglet told you that you were Back to Front. Which is not correct. Not correct at all. It is not you that is Back to Front, Pooh, but your hat.”
“What a relief!” said Pooh.
“No interruptions. please”, grumbled Owl, who was only just about keeping up with himself as it was. “Now, Rabbit told you that a hat is not a hat unless it is facing in the right direction. That is true. But a hat is really only a hat if it is facing in the direction that you, the wearer of the hat want to go. A hat, so to speak does not want to go anywhere. It merely sits upon your head and waits for you, Pooh Bear, to decide where it is that YOU want to go.”
“Ah, I see”. said Pooh, not seeing at all.
“And finally” Owl continued. “Eyeore suggested you needed to turn around in order to face the right direction – the direction of your hat. But it was not you that needed to turn around to meet your hat, it was your hat that needed to turn around to meet YOU. I think we are now clear and have solved the problem.”
Owl breathed out a sigh of satisfaction at his logic and wisdom.
“Are we ? Have we ?” asked Pooh, who was now getting rather hungry.
“Pooh,” said Owl. “Now I want you to do exactly as I tell you. Stand very still. Take hold of your hat by the brim with your left Paw. I shall count to three. On “three” I want you to turn the hat around and, whatever you do, do not turn yourself around. Am I making myself clear?”
Pooh summoned up all of the thinking he could, and said: “Perfectly clear, Owl.”
“Very well then. Take hold of the brim with your left paw.”
Pooh followed Owl’s instructions.
“On my mark – one, two, three – TURN !”
Pooh took hold of the brim of the blue cap and turned it around.
“And stop!” Owl said finally. “There, one hat facing in the right direction, and one Pooh Bear facing in the right direction.”
“Thank you, Owl” said Pooh, thankfully, “You truly are a very wise bird.”
“That is true” confirmed Owl, “Now if you don’t mind, I have to return to my studies.” Owl yawned, turned about and headed back into the Wolery in search of his soft straw bed. “Goodnight… I mean, good day.”
“Goodbye, Owl” replied Pooh and set off gaily in search of his house, a jar of honey and an afternoon snooze.
It truly was wonderful to be facing in the same direction as his hat wanted to go.
“This really is much, much, better.” Pooh said to himself as he went happily along in the heat of the afternoon sunshine. “Going forwards is really much, much better than going backwards!”
Then he stopped for a moment and thought which, for a Bear of Very Little Brain, he did remarkably often. “Yes indeed, he said, “Forwards is much more agreeable. But I have had a marvellous adventure today. And I suppose I never would have had such a wonderful adventure if I hadn’t been going backwards!”
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