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Max and Miss Mumpy

posted 27 Feb 2018, 13:01 by Fran Brady
Christmas is over. All the new toys and games have been played with and played with. All the TV programmes have been watched and all the songs have been sung. Outside Aliida’s and Archie’s snug little house, the weather is horrible. Wet, cold and windy. And so dark all the time. Aliida is bored and mumpy. 
Archie tries to cheer her up, but nothing seems to be working. So, he fetches Max from Above-Bed and tells him to cheer Aliida up.

‘That’s your job, young man,’ said Archie. ‘Get to it!’

Max is very willing to do his job. The only trouble is: he doesn’t know how to. Not when it means trying to cheer Aliida up on a miserable, dark day in Scotland in the first week of January. ‘What’s winter for, anyway?’ he asks Archie. ‘Why do we have it? Why does it come every year and stay for so long?'

Archie often asks himself the very same questions. He comes from a land where it is sunny almost every day of the year and people worry about

keeping cool, not warm. 

‘Well, Max,’ he says with a sigh. ‘It’s all to do with the earth going around the sun. It depends on which bit of the earth you’re on and what angle the sun’s rays are to where you are at different times of the year.’

Max thinks about this. It kinda makes sense … maybe. But it isn’t much help. ‘So, we’re stuck on a place that the sun’s rays aren’t reaching much just now?’

‘Yeah,’ agrees Archie, gloomily. ‘See what you can do, anyway, with Miss Mumpy Aliida. Please.’

Max consults Monty. They put their heads together and think about all the times when Aliida has been happy. ‘She likes when it’s her birthday,’ says Monty.

‘That’s no good,’ says Max. ‘That’s August. We can’t wait for another eight months. Archie is relying on us to do something NOW.’

‘She likes going to Ocean Terminal,’ says Monty. ‘And she loves going to our old home, The Build-a-Bear shop’.

‘OK,’ says Max. ‘So, how do we get her there?’

They look at each other and then they both have the same idea at the same moment. Grandma Frances! 

‘We need to get a message to GF,’ says Max. ‘Have you got that old phone you found working again?’ 

He knows Monty has been fiddling about with it for the past week. In fact, he has been quite annoyed with Monty about the amount of time he has been spending on the old thing. It seems a pointless waste of time to Max when they might be playing games together. But now, he realises, it may save the day!

Monty looks smug. ‘Leave it to me,’ he says. ‘Monty to the rescue!’

Max feels like biffing him one. He hates when Monty does that smug, superior thing. But he needs help in his mission to cheer up Aliida. That comes first. So, he bites his tongue – which is quite a sore thing to do. ‘Ouch!’ he says. 

Monty has found GF’s number on a scrap of paper in Archie’s pocket. He fiddles with the old phone and it takes three attempts to dial the number. That’s the trouble with having paws instead of fingers. Someone needs to invent a real phone for bears. The one from the B-a-B shop is just a toy, fine for playing games but no good for a crisis like this. 

'It’s ringing, ‘he says at last. The two bears wait anxiously. It rings and rings and rings … then: 

‘Hello,’ says GF. ‘Who’s there?’ Phew!  

It turns out to be a very good idea to phone GF. (Afterwards, Max and Monty will argue forever about whose idea it was. Actually, they both had it at the same moment, and actually they both know this. But it’s no fun if you have nothing to argue about, is it?) 

Max grabs the phone from Monty. After all, this is his job. ‘Hello, it’s Max Bear here, Grandma Frances. We need your help. It’s urgent.’

‘Hello, Max. How lovely to hear from you! Now, how can I help?’

Max feels immediately better. Yes, between them, they will sort out this problem.                                                       

‘It’s Aliida,’ he says. ‘She’s bored and she’s turned into Miss Mumpy. Archie is at his wits’ end. He’s asked me to help but I don’t know how. Neither does Monty.’

GF laughs. ‘Oh, dear,’ she says. ‘That’s serious.’ There is a pause while she thinks. Max holds his breath and prays.

At last, she says: ‘I can be with you in about an hour. Tell Aliida to pack a suitcase. She can come and stay with me for a few days.’

Max heaves a huge sigh of relief. He puts his paw over the phone and whispers to Monty:

‘She’s coming to take Aliida away.’

Monty whispers back fiercely: ‘Ask if we can go too!’

‘Oh, yes!’ says Max frantically. ‘Grandma Frances?'

’Yes, Max?'

'Can I come too? And Monty as well? Please.’

‘I’m sure that won’t be a problem, Max, if you promise to be very, very good.’ 

‘Of course,’ he says. ‘We always are.’

‘Mmmm … So you are, so you are.’ She laughs again. ‘Get your suitcases packed. And first, I’ll take you all uptown to the Winter Wonderland. We can have some fun on the rides.’

Rides? Eeeek!! Max and Monty don’t know if they are terrified or excited. 

Sometimes, it feels very much the same.