A friend requested a story to fit her book of illustrations. The illustrations will follow in due course. It is a story with seven chapters (seven illustrations, that is) and the story starts here. In the meantime, I have sketched my impression of Bernard and Barry (see below).
Bernard and Barry loved details and they loved collecting data.
They loved to count. One, two, three, four, five. They loved to add and subtract. They especially loved multiplying because, well, it made more numbers and numbers were such a source of delight.
They didn’t just love numbers. They loved collecting data. Bernard and Barry could tell you how many trees there were in the Jungle and how many different types there were. They could tell you this information because they had the amazing ability to collect information and then actually remember it!
Bernard and Barry were often misunderstood.
First, people would look at them and just see fuzzy, fluffy bears. They’d assume that Bernard and Barry had fuzzy, fluffy heads when, in actual fact (and Bernard and Barry loved actual facts!), they had the smartest, sharpest brains in the whole of the jungle.
Second, once people came to appreciate the smartness and sharpness of Bernard and Barry’s brains, they would assume that Bernard and Barry were not at all warm and fuzzy to be around, when in actual fact (and Bernard and Barry could would soon display concrete proof of this fact) they were two of the kindest, warmest animals in the whole of the jungle.
Bernard and Barry were the best kind of friends to have. Sometimes they seemed a bit fussy but it was because they wanted everything to be perfect. They wanted everyone to be safe. They wanted everything to be just right.
Bernard and Barry were looking up into the tree and everything was most certainly not perfect or right. Maurice the fun-loving Monkey was, in actual fact, very unsafe!
Maurice the Monkey was too busy swinging and laughing to notice Bernard and Barry on the ground below him. He was swinging too fast to see their worried faces. He was laughing too loudly to hear their words of warning.
‘Maurice! Come down, right now!’
And Maurice did…come down…in one great big crash!
As Maurice lay on the ground, tangled in the rope from the swing, moaning a little, Bernard and Barry very quickly calculated that now was not the time to tell Maurice why his swing hadn’t worked.
If Maurice had, some time ago, asked his dear, detail-loving, data-collecting friends, they would have been able to retrieve from their very smart and sharp brains the information they had once read on ‘How to Make a Tree Swing That Will Last a Lifetime’.
Bernard and Barry could have taught Maurice all about the different types of wood from the different types of trees but instead of using ‘weather resistant, rot-resistant, non-splintering wood’, Maurice had chosen to use the ‘thin, easy-splitting pine shelving’ from his grandmother’s garden shed. Bernard and Barry could have warned Maurice about the pitfalls of using ‘natural-fibre manila rope’ as they remembered reading that it would ‘rot in time and break when least expected.’
It did rot and it did break.
But to Bernard and Barry it was not at all unexpected.
Bernard and Barry drew on their stores of knowledge gathered in the ‘Counselling 101’ course they had once signed up for and they refrained from saying anything to Maurice at that particular moment.
Instead they knelt down beside him on the ground and they were silent. Bernard held Maurice’s left hand and Barry held his right hand.
Then they waited for Lucy and Lynette the Lamenting Lyre Birds to start their comforting song of sorrow and regret.
Tune in for the next chapter when Lucy and Lynette will sing the words we all long to hear when things haven’t quite turned out the way we planned. Please feel free to leave questions, suggested changes, critique about the feasibility of the story, or other editorial comments below. This is a work in progress.