Saturday, February 9

Pooh and Toad are friends

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride* was my favorite amusement at the Magic Kingdom prior to its closure and replacement by The Many Adventures of Mr. Pooh. Reviewing the tapes I can only shake my head at the softening of today's youth. Nevertheless, if anyone was to fill the shoes of Mr. Toad I am glad it could be Mr. Pooh. Of the hardbound books of my youth The Wind and the Willows and Winnie-the-Pooh are surely the most worn. Did you know that A.A. Milne wrote Toad of Toad Hall, the stage adaptation of The Wind and the Willows. So you see, Mr. Toad and Mr. Pooh are practically related! At any rate, I bring this up because I was reminded of the ride when reading this piece on the "private torments" of Wind and the Willows author Kenneth Grahame in the Telegraph. Of Grahame's son we learn:

There has been speculation that the mercurial, manic and appallingly behaved Toad was a veiled portrait of Alastair himself. Certainly the boy was already exhibiting signs of peculiar behaviour.

One of his favourite games involved him lying down in the road in front of approaching cars and forcing them to stop. Stranger still, he had taken to calling himself Robinson, the name of the man who had shot at his father. (Several of the Toad letters are addressed to 'Darling Robinson'.) But it seems just as likely that Toad's exuberance was Grahame's own; he just didn't have an outlet for it anywhere else.

*The is obviously Disneyland, where, I am happy to inform you, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride remains intact.

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