Hamilton Bear had the most wonderful time in Norway. He chased trolls up trees and rode up and down on the mountain railway for hours. It's rare to meet a bear who doesn't know about Hamilton, but, to my surprise, we did encounter one in Bergen.
At Bergen harbour, beside the tourist info centre, is an enormous polar bear. A stuffed one, standing on its hind legs and looking like somebody you wouldn't argue with about the price of fish, or anything else. When we first met the Polar Bear Hamilton was resting at the hotel, but I did mention Hamilton in the Polar Bear's hearing. I will not repeat what the Polar Bear said but it was quite unnecessary and not at all polite about teddy bears.
The next day we were walking along the other side of the harbour admiring the wooden houses, and Hamilton was with us, looking out from my shopping bag. Suddenly I heard the low and humble voice of the Polar Bear.
"I'm sorry, sir," it said. "I didn't know."
And Hamilton, being Hamilton, was really good about it. That's the measure of the bear for you. Noblesse oblige.
Last week I was having lunch with Claire, who is looking forward to seeing a production of The Winter's Tale. I mentioned that it's the only Shakespearian play with the stage direction, 'Exit, pursued by a bear.'
Claire sighed. "Hamilton just doesn't know when to stop, does he?" she said.