NAME: Caroline Yorke

POSITION/ROLE AT LANYON BOWDLER: Associate Solicitor in Family Law dept

FAVOURITE LITERARY GENRE: Modern fiction and mountaineering non-fiction

FAVOURITE BOOK/WHY? My favourite book changes with my mood, many times a day! However, I’ve just started reading A.A. Milne: His Life by Ann Thwaite. It came as no surprise to learn that Milne’s father ran a very small private boys’ school on lines that were considered very radical for Victorian times. He wanted to instil in his pupils a love of learning and a sense of compassion and was, by all accounts, a very gentle and mild-mannered man. Milne also had very fond memories of Shropshire, where they spent a lot of family holidays, and climbed the Wrekin at the age of 2½. For him to remember it in such detail shows the deep impression those holidays must have made on him.

The Winnie-the-Pooh books have always been very special to me. As a child I loved them for their comforting familiarity and the seemingly uncomplicated exploits of what was essentially just a crowd of animals living in a wood. I spent a lot of my childhood abroad, which was wonderful, but the books always had that added ‘tang’ of home for me.

As a teenager in the 80s (I know, I just don’t look old enough, haha!) it was quite ‘trendy’ at my school to like Winnie The Pooh and have merchandise such as pencil cases with the enchanting EH Shepard illustrations. I started to read the books again and realised that there is a very adult dimension to the stories which sometimes makes for uncomfortable reading. We are forced to confront the fact that we all know an Eeyore (someone who is, essentially, struggling with depression – and his withering sarcasm when he is floating down the river during the pooh-sticks game is some of the most hilarious stuff you will ever read!), an irrepressible Tigger who is great fun at parties but sometimes just too much for everyday life, an unflappable Kanga who takes care of everyone and is the sensible one in a crisis, a know-all Owl with an opinion (usually misinformed) on everything and, of course, a self-effacing Pooh-Bear type who judges himself unfairly by the standards of all those other characters and doesn’t see that, in fact, he is probably the most grounded and reliable of them all.

The real challenge of that realisation comes when we then think about how we treat those people in our lives ……….

It was pointed out on social media recently that, in spite of Eeyore’s depression and the effect it has on him in social situations, his friends in Hundred Acre Wood never abandon him. They include him in everything, they shower him with love and they accommodate his moods. Who says adults can’t learn lessons from children’s literature?

WHICH LITFEST EVENT MOST APPEALS? The Winnie The Pooh Picnic, of course!

WHICH AUTHOR WOULD YOU MOST LOVE TO SEE AT OSWESTRY LITFEST? Joe Simpson (mountaineer and author of “Touching the Void”, “The Beckoning Silence”, “This Game of Ghosts” and other exceptional fiction and non-fiction)