Sunday 7th January 2018

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Spurs 3 Wimbledon 0

Three goals in a crazy eight-minute spell finally saw off a dogged AFC Wimbledon side as we reached the FA Cup fourth round at Wembley Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Harry Kane opened the scoring in the 63rd minute before adding a second two minutes later, while Jan Vertonghen hit a 71st minute screamer – his first goal in our colours since netting away to FC Sheriff in October, 2013 – to settle the issue.

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But it was a stiffer test than the scoreline suggests, with Michel Vorm making two excellent saves with the game goalless to prevent our League One opponents from taking the lead.

The Dons kept it tight and defended well in numbers in the first half particularly, almost going in front when Jimmy Abdou hit a right-foot curler which Vorm superbly tipped onto his crossbar, before denying Liam Trotter from the rebound.

We had chances with Kane and Erik Lamela bringing good saves out of Wimbledon keeper George Long, while Mousa Dembele struck the woodwork after the interval just moments before Vorm scrambled back to tip over Jonathan Meades’ header.

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We eventually pierced the Dons’ defence when Kane poked home Moussa Sissoko’s cross from close range and he did so again just over a minute later after Kyle Walker-Peters’ shot had been deflected. That second goal was his 125th for the club, moving him above Teddy Sheringham and into ninth place on our all-time goalscorers list.

The icing on the cake was delivered by Vertonghen from 25 yards to wrap up a fine but hard-fought victory.

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Goodbye Christopher Robin

The film begins during WWII, in 1941, with A. A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) – nicknamed “Blue” by his friends and family – and his wife Daphne (Margot Robbie) receiving a distressing telegram at their home. It then changes timeframe to a few decades earlier with Blue fighting in the Battle of the Somme, then resuming his life in England while suffering shell shock with occasional flashbacks to his battle experiences, and having a child with Daphne. She was hoping for a girl, and is disappointed to instead have a son, whom they name Christopher Robin Milne but call “Billy”. They hire a nanny Olive (Kelly Macdonald) who is given primary responsibility for raising the child.

goodbye-christopher-robin-600x314The English novelist Alan Alexander Milne (1882-1956) author of the story Winnie the Pooh, here with his son Christopher Robin Milner (1920-1996), photo by Howard Coster, 1926 - English novelist Alan Alexander Milne who wrote the story of Winnie the Pooh

Blue is having difficulty resuming his writing – he wants to draft a compelling treatise against war – and relocates the family to a house in the country with wooded acreage. Daphne resents the move, and at one point returns to London for an extended period. When Olive takes leave to care for her dying mother, Blue and Billy (Will Tilston) are left to fend for themselves for a time. Reluctantly at first, Blue takes Billy along on walks in the woods, and begins making up stories about the boy’s adventures with the stuffed animals the parents have bought for him along the way.

Blue invites his illustrator friend Ernest to join them at the house, and together they develop the Winnie-the-Pooh books, which become a huge success. Daphne returns to the house to help manage their newfound celebrity. As “Christopher Robin”, Billy makes frequent public appearances he finds confusing and frustrating. Olive becomes engaged and resigns, but admonishes Blue and Daphne for what they are putting Billy through. Blue resolves to stop writing about the boy and his imaginary friends, and ends Billy’s publicity activities, instead enrolling him at a boarding school.

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But “Christopher Robin” is bullied at the school, and (now played by Alex Lawther) emerges bitter toward his father. When World War 2 breaks out, Billy is initially declared unfit for the draft, but he demands that his well-connected father – despite being horrified by war and the prospect of his son experiencing what he did – get him enlisted regardless. Billy leaves for service, turning his back on his father, and disowning the books and the money from them.

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The opening scene is replayed, this time explaining that Billy has been reported missing, and is presumed dead, news they pass along to Olive. However, Billy has survived, and arrives at the country house without warning, leading to awkward but tearful reunions with his parents, and a joyful reunion with his surrogate mother. Blue and Billy have a reconciliation of sorts, and they are seen walking in the woods as a young child and younger man

Wind On The Hill

No one can tell me,
Nobody knows,
Where the wind comes from,
Where the wind goes.

It’s flying from somewhere
As fast as it can,
I couldn’t keep up with it,
Not if I ran.

But if I stopped holding
The string of my kite,
It would blow with the wind
For a day and a night.

And then when I found it,
Wherever it blew,
I should know that the wind
Had been going there too.

So then I could tell them
Where the wind goes…
But where the wind comes from
Nobody knows.

Alan Alexander Milne

Christopher Milne was a re- markable man who trium-phantly survived a remarkable childhood, though not without considerable pain on the way.
He was born in 1920, the son of A.A. Milne, a rich and famous Punch writer and playwright, and his wife, Daphne. “May Billy be an everlasting joy to you,” J.M. Barrie wrote, having been told the name the child was to use. As it turned out, he was not, but the fault was hardly his own. “We did rather want a Rosemary,” Milne had written to another friend.

Christopher Robin, as he was actually named (he was never christened), had to wait a long time for his first haircut. But worse was to follow. In 1923, on a wet holiday in Wales, A.A. Milne started writing verse about his infant son. When We Were Very Young (1924) made Christopher Robin a household name.

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The book was an instant best-seller. By 1928, it had been joined by the two Pooh books (Winnie-the-Pooh, 1926, and The House at Pooh Corner) and a further book of verse, Now We Are Six (1927) – all to repeat the first book’s extraordinary success and all starring the boy and his teddy-bear. Milne tried to reduce the damage by vowing in 1928 never to write another children’s book, but it was too late. He also excused himself by saying that Christopher Robin was “Billy” at home and hardly the same person at all. “I do not want C.R. Milne ever to wish that his names were Charles Robert.” But it was inevitable.

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When A.A. Milne went to America in 1931 it was Christopher Robin everyone was interested in. Parents Magazine named him one of the most famous children in the world, along with Princess Elizabeth of York, Prince Michael of Romania, Yehudi Menuhin and Jackie Coogan, the film-star. In 1974, Pendennis in the Observer wrote that Christopher “had spent over 40 years trying to get off his knees from saying his prayers. Perhaps the most famous of all tiny boys (by comparison Little Lord Fauntleroy was a mere starlet), A.A. Milne’s golden-curled son grew up loathing the Pooh books.”

This was not entirely the case. Indeed, at the time he told his father he thought Pooh “a good sort of book”, and he wrote himself in 1973 that as a child “I quite liked being Christopher Robin and being famous. There were indeed times . . . when it was exciting and made me feel grand and important.” “Alan’s boy is quite unspoilt,” his grandfather wrote in the year Winnie-the-Pooh was published. From all accounts he was a delightful child. It was only at Stowe and later, as he grew out of his part, that he came to resent the books so fiercely and to write: “It seemed to me almost that my father had got to where he was by climbing upon my infant shoulders, that he had filched from me my good name and had left me with the empty fame of being his son.”

It was the Second World War – in which he was wounded in Italy as a platoon commander with the Sappers – that saved Christopher Milne from the burden of being Christopher Robin. Not long ago I met a man who had served with him in Trieste and had not known for a long time whose son he was. The war enabled Milne to become himself and eventually to break away and live his own life, marrying his cousin Lesley de Selincourt and cutting himself off almost completely from his parents.

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But he saw life as circular – our journey one that should take us back close to where we began, to the child’s indivisible world in which all creatures are equal, the world we left when we went to school, as indeed Christopher Robin leaves the enchanted place on the top of the forest at the end of The House at Pooh Corner. As a child he had felt (inspired by the Doctor Dolittle books) that he might learn the language of animals. In later life he remained passionately involved in the natural world, in creatures however small. He described in The Open Garden (1988) how he had once reared the four heatherbell-like eggs a fox-moth had laid on his finger. He was immensely pleased when he was told he looked the sort of man who would be interested in a caterpillar. He knew the difference between bugle and betony. He liked night-walking and knowing the names of the stars.

Christopher Milne was in many ways, as he admitted, extremely like his father and the strength of the bond between them made the pain of breaking it all the greater. They were both essentially private people, individualists, observers, humorists. They both read Mathematics at Trinity College, Cambridge. Above all, they were both extremely good writers. Christopher never found another subject as interesting to his readers as his own life. His autobiographical writing, particularly in The Path Through the Trees (1979), has a most attractive candour. He wrote the first volume, the best-selling The Enchanted Places (1974), for himself (contradicting what he said on that subject in the book itself). It was soon after his mother’s death, long after his father’s. Each session at the typewriter was “like a session on the analyst’s couch”. He wrote it hoping to pre-empt future biographers of his father, but it was the very act of writing it that eventually made it possible for him to agree to my A.A. Milne: his life. Having agreed, he made no conditions and did not see the book until it was published six years ago. His reaction relieved us both.

Christopher Robin Milne with his Teddy Bear

Writing The Enchanted Places enabled Christopher Milne to come to terms with what his father had done to him. Milne could never make similar mistakes with his own daughter, Clare, to whom he was as deeply devoted. His father had expected too much of him. Clare, a severely disabled spastic, “set us an example and taught us a philosophy that parents don’t usually expect to learn from their children”. He wrote “Lucky Clare to have such a mother” and we would say “Lucky Clare to have such a father”. He had always been good with his hands and was able to design special cutlery and furniture for her. Once he brought home a little bank vole which amazingly entertained her for two years and eight months.

He sold his share in the future royalties he inherited from the Pooh books to the Royal Literary Fund (which already had a share) and, with the capital, set up a trust fund for her. Money never interested him and he gave much away, but he prided himself that he and his wife were self- supporting for over 20 years at the Harbour Bookshop in Dartmouth. The shy schoolboy who stammered, and who had been so unworldly that he thought you could send a telegram from a bank, became a successful bookseller and in the Sixties a passionate speaker on children and reading at meetings of PTAs and the School Library Association. Loving Dartmouth, he was for years Chairman of the Dartmouth and Kingswear Association.

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In recent years he performed acts of filial piety, though pious was the last thing he ever was. He unveiled a statue of Winnie the bear cub at the London Zoo, and was involved in the restoration of Poohsticks Bridge and in the establishment of a memorial to his father and E.H. Shepard in Ashdown Forest. He took a leading part in the fight to save the forest from development and oil exploration – not so much because of Pooh but because of the forest itself. He said he took the playground of his Sussex childhood with him wherever he went – and it was his childhood as much as the good years of his devoted partnership with Lesley that enabled him to write in the preface to The Path Through the Trees that he had indeed had a happy life.

Ann Thwaite

1846977_a5bc98b6NPG x25823; E.H. Shepard by Howard Coster

Ernest Howard Shepard OBE

Ernest Howard Shepard OBE, MC was an English artist and book illustrator. He is known especially for illustrations of the anthropomorphic soft toy and animal characters in The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame and Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne.

Shepard was born in St John’s Wood, London. Having shown some promise in drawing at St Paul’s School, in 1897 he enrolled in Heatherley’s School of Fine Art in Chelsea. After a productive year there, he attended the Royal Academy Schools, winning a Landseer scholarship in 1899 and a British Institute prize in 1900. There he met Florence Eleanor Chaplin, who he married in 1904. By 1906 Shepard had become a successful illustrator, having produced work for illustrated editions of Aesop’s Fables, David Copperfield, and Tom Brown’s Schooldays, while at the same time working as an illustrator on the staff of Punch. The couple bought a house in London, but in 1905 moved to Shamley Green, near Guildford.

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Shepard was a prolific painter, showing in a number of major exhibitions. He exhibited at the Royal Society of Artists, Birmingham—a traditional venue for generic painters—as well as in the more radical atmosphere of Glasgow’s Institute of Fine Arts, where some of the most innovative artists were on show. He was twice an exhibitor at the prestigious Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, one of the largest and most important provincial galleries in the country, and another at the Manchester Art Gallery, a Victorian institution now part of the public libraries. But at heart, Shepard was a Londoner, showing sixteen times at the Royal Academy on Piccadilly. His wife, who was also a painter, found a home in London’s West End venue for her own modest output during a 25-year career.

Although in his mid-thirties when World War I broke out in 1914, Shepard received a commission as a second lieutenant in the Royal Garrison Artillery, an arm of the Royal Artillery. By 1916, Shepard started working for the Intelligence Department sketching the combat area within the view of his battery position. On 16 February 1917, he was made an acting captain whilst second-in-command of a siege battery, and briefly served as an acting major in late April and early May of that year, when he reverted to the acting rank of captain. He was promoted to substantive lieutenant on 1 July 1917. Whilst acting as Captain, he was awarded the Military Cross for his service at the Battle of Passchendaele.

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His citation read:

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. As forward Observation Officer he continued to observe and send back valuable information, in spite of heavy shell and machine gun fire. His courage and coolness were conspicuous. By war’s end, he had achieved the rank of major.

Throughout the war he had been contributing to Punch. He was hired as a regular staff cartoonist in 1921 and became lead cartoonist in 1945. He was removed from this post in 1953 by Punch’s new editor, Malcolm Muggeridge.

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Shepard was recommended to A. A. Milne in 1923 by another Punch staffer, E. V. Lucas. Milne initially thought Shepard’s style was not what he wanted, but used him to illustrate the book of poems When We Were Very Young. Happy with the results, Milne then insisted Shepard illustrate Winnie-the-Pooh. Realising his illustrator’s contribution to the book’s success, the writer arranged for Shepard to receive a share of his royalties. Milne also inscribed a copy of Winnie-the-Pooh with the following personal verse:

When I am gone,
Let Shepard decorate my tomb,
And put (if there is room)
Two pictures on the stone:
Piglet from page a hundred and eleven,
And Pooh and Piglet walking (157) …
And Peter, thinking that they are my own,
Will welcome me to Heaven.

Shepard E 4

Eventually Shepard came to resent “that silly old bear” as he felt that the Pooh illustrations overshadowed his other work.

Shepard modelled Pooh not on the toy owned by Milne’s son Christopher Robin but on “Growler”, a stuffed bear owned by his own son. (Growler no longer exists, having been given to his granddaughter Minnie Hunt and subsequently destroyed by a neighbour’s dog.) His Pooh work is so famous that 300 of his preliminary sketches were exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1969, when he was 90 years old.

 

 

 

 

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