I was on holiday in Mallorca during the week of the EU referendum- quite possibly the best time to go, to get away from the media circus, make the most of exchange rates before they plummeted, and avoid some of the worst rain the UK has seen in months.
Since returning I’ve tried my hand at writing my own version of the Winnie The Pooh Brexit meme, but things spiraled out of hand a little, and it turned into an exploration of narrative, dialogue, and speech indicators. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it..
“How did you vote?” Said Pooh.
Piglet said nothing.
“I voted remain.” Said Pooh.
Still piglet was silent.
“I said I voted remain.” Pooh said. “If you voted Leave, that’s okay.”
“Pooh.” Piglet said. “It’s been five years since Kanga died.”
“Oh.” Pooh said. “Sorry piglet, I didn’t realise.”
“No, of course you didn’t.” Said Piglet.
“I’m sorry.” Said Pooh.
“Don’t be sorry. It’s not your fault.” Piglet said. “It was something that happened to me, after all.”
“So…” Pooh said.
“That Enya song she liked was on the radio today.” Said Piglet.
“Do you know how much money Enya makes?” Said Pooh.
“I don’t know, no.” Said Piglet.
“It’s a lot. She has a net worth of 140 Million USD.” Said Pooh.
“That doesn’t mean she makes a lot of money as such.” Said Piglet. “She may just be very economical with the money she already has.”
“Good point.” Said Piglet.
“Pooh, have you ever noticed how dialogue-driven prose really doesn’t lend itself to complicated discussion, and is much more effective for short, snappy pieces of dialogue, yes said Pooh no said Pooh, well okay then said Piglet and so on? It often feels preachy, like the characters are merely mouthpieces for an obvious opinion or agenda, and their turn-taking is either completely irrelevant, or exists to setup and serve straw-man fallacies.” Said Piglet.
“Oh bother.” Said Pooh.
“Who said that?” Said Pooh.
“Oh for pity sake… What?” SAID PIGLET.
“All these words are making my brain hurt.” Mumbled Pooh.
“That doesn’t surprise me.” Sneered Piglet. “You are a silly old bear.”
“Well that’s not very nice Piglet.” Sniffed Pooh. “I’m just a little confused by the sudden change in our length and quality of speech.”
“I’m sorry Pooh, really I am.” Recompensed Piglet. “Are you low on sugar?”
“A little.” Pooh nodded. “Also.. recompensed? Settle down, pig.”
“How much honey have you had today?” Piglet asked.
“None.” Replied Pooh.
“Nonsense.” Piglet shook his head, I mean grumbled. “I saw you eating honey this morning.”
“That wasn’t honey.” Remarked Pooh. “That was hunny.”
“Sorry what?” Asked Piglet.
“Hunny.” Pooh responded. “It’s the cutesy way that I spell honey. I really am a silly old bear.”
No, you’re an annoying git.
You knew exactly what I was talking about, you even said that hunny was your name for honey. So you have had honey or hunny or whatever today, you’re just being cute and whimsy for the sake of being cute and whimsy.
There’s no need to be quite so cruel. Also this new format of our speech really hammers home the emotional intent of your words, and quite frankly I don’t care for it.
Whatever happen to ‘Oh bother?’
I just feel like we should try a different form of dialogue.
[I dunno, resolute or something]
And so Piglet and Pooh continued their discussion in the form of reported speech. Pooh felt it was a decent way to quickly express intent and viewpoint, but Piglet felt that it lacked depth, and was more than a little lazy. They talked like this for some time, Pooh often stopping to remark how easily the passage of time could be demonstrated without having to show actual discussion or activity. Piglet acquiesced, or at least he would have if acquiescence was a term within his lexical set. Mainly he just nodded. After a good long while, Pooh pointed out that they hadn’t said anything for ages, despite the suggestion that they had. They both agreed on a more honest form of communication.
“Said Pooh?” Said Piglet.
“Said Piglet.” Said Pooh.
“Are we still friends?” Said Piglet.
“Yes… yes we’re still friends. I think.” said Pooh.
“Why?” Said Piglet.
“Well I don’t even know if we were friends to begin with, so ‘still friends’ is an odd concept.” Pooh befuddled. “I mean, I know you, and all my adventures seem to involve you in some way, but are we friends? I think we’re just thrown together by close proximity.”
“That’s okay Pooh, I actually wasn’t asking why you were unsure, I was asking why we were friends, but I think you’ve answered my question anyway.”
“Oh bother.” Said Pooh, because the next line needed to be said by Piglet, and a break in the conversation was necessary.
“Pub?” Asked Piglet.
“What’s a pub?” Asked Pooh.
“It’s where humans and fictional humans and anthropomorphised animals go to drink alcohol.” Piglet gushed.
“I see.” Pooh confirmed. “But there’s no alcohol in The Hundred Acre Wood.”
“Good point.” Piglet agreed. “But they can probably ship it in from outside. Export lager or something.”
“Export lager?” Pooh baulked. “You seem to have forgotten where we are. The Hundred Acre Wood isn’t a real, geographical location.”
“It’s based on one!” Interrupted Piglet.
“That’ll do pig, that’ll do.” Said Pooh, and everyone cheered because they’d been waiting for him to say that for some time.
“This whole place exists in a small child’s imagination. If he started imagining booze everywhere, I’d be worried for his mental wellbeing and the quality of his home life.”
“Right..” Piglet chimed. “Except it doesn’t exist in a small child’s imagination, it exists in the imagination of a grown man watching a small child play with toys.”
“Well then.” Pooh is talking now. It’s hard to tell because both characters are being equally verbose, but this one is Pooh.
“Setting aside the creepiness of that in the first instance, I would certainly worry if a grown man was inserting alcoholism into his perception of the imaginations of a child.”
“Indeed.” Added Piglet, because he realised the conversation had reached somewhat of a dead end. “This conversation has reached somewhat of a dead end.” Explained Piglet.
“Well.” Pooh shrugged. “Some conversations do. Not every narrative has to reach a fulfilling conclusion or come to some thematic resolution. Sometimes they just end.”
“So it goes.” Remarked Piglet, because he was a literary snob.
“Butt Poo!” Pooh was disappointed in himself, having been able to resist toilet humour for so long so far.
“Quite.” Piglet was unimpressed. “But Pooh, surely the realisation that not everything has a resolution is in itself a resolution?”
“I suppose.” Pooh nodded. “It’s not a very good one though, is it?”
“I don’t know.” Piglet wavered. “I suppose if the journey to the finish is rewarding enough, the finish itself isn’t that important.”
“Maybe.” Pooh stroked his beard, which was most of his face.
“Perhaps the readers will decide for themselves that a satisfying conclusion isn’t as important as an entertaining narrative.”
“We can only hope.” Said Piglet, looking directly at you.
“I wanted to be the last one to speak.” Said Pooh.