They’re Changing Guard At Buckingham Palace … Celebrating AA Milne

January 18 marks the birthday of author AA Milne. He is best known as the creator of Winnie The Pooh, but the thing I remember him for most is his collection of poems When We Were Very Young. 

I grew up with an idyllic view of England, verging on the ridiculous. Growing up abroad, many of my summers were spent at my grandmother’s house on the south coast, where I played in the sea, believed there were fairies under the tree and approached the old air-raid shelter in the garden with a combination of childlike curiosity and caution.

Silverhowe had the most awesome silver birch tree, which inspired as many stories as The Faraway Tree. Then there was Peter Pan on the bird bath, which was carefully washed by myself and my friend every summer, as if it were a precious crown.

“My room” at Silverhowe was previously my mother’s – and some of her old toys and books became to mean as much to me during these summer trips as they did to her. Among those was Milne’s collection of poems When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six.

I affectionately called my grandmother “Cherie”, a moniker my own mother called hers. The tale goes that my great-grandmother was particularly keen on a black hat with two red cherries on it. My mother, as a child, was unable to pronounce “cherry”- so her grandmother became “Cherie” and the name stuck.

My Cherie would come and read to me at bed-time, selecting one of the books from the white painted bookcase next to my bed. The one I remember most is Milne’s poems from When We Were Very Young. This no-nonsense kind of lady softened as she started skipping through the poems, to demands of “just one more” from me.

The one I remember most is Buckingham Palace, the lyrics “They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace…” instantly conjuring up memories of childhood summers and carefree days.

BUCKINGHAM PALACE

They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace –
 Christopher Robin went down with Alice.
 Alice is marrying one of the guard.
 “A soldier’s life is terrible hard,”
                                Says Alice.

They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace –
 Christopher Robin went down with Alice.
 We saw a guard in a sentry-box.
 “One of the sergeants looks after their socks,”
                                Says Alice.

They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace –
 Christopher Robin went down with Alice.
 We looked for the King, but he never came.
 “Well, God take care of him, all the same,”
                                Says Alice.

 They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace –
 Christopher Robin went down with Alice.
 They’ve great big parties inside the grounds.
 “I wouldn’t be King for a hundred pounds,”
                                Says Alice.

They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace –
 Christopher Robin went down with Alice.
 A face looked out, but it wasn’t the King’s.
 “He’s much too busy a-signing things,”
                                Says Alice.

 They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace –
 Christopher Robin went down with Alice.
 “Do you think the King knows all about me?”
 “Sure to, dear, but it’s time for tea,”
                                Says Alice.

– AA Milne

Copyright Natalie Marchant/Tales From Taliena

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2 Responses to They’re Changing Guard At Buckingham Palace … Celebrating AA Milne

  1. I remember a few of the poems but not many – coincidentally my daughter found my copy of Winnie the Pooh on my shelves today and demanded I read it.

    • taliena says:

      Some of them are delightfully twee! We actually saw the changing of the guard in November (at Horse Guards, not Buck House) and I had that ditty in my head all day.

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