I am still alive. Hello.
I didn't get to spend much time at The House of Stories earlier this year, what with family stuff. (I have a new grandson. If he were any cuter he'd be a kitten.) Then I gave up social media for Lent so I thought the blog may as well go into hibernation, too, and I didn't know whether to wake it up. The new book is Fifteen Things Not To Do With A Puppy and is doing very well, but you knew that, didn't you?
Then, yesterday, we - that's Tony, Hamilton Bear and I - were watching some quiz programmes. Hamilton's favourite is University Challenge, and after it he commented that there weren't enough questions about bears on there. The bear has a point. So Hamilton and I are going to do a bit of Bear Blogging. (For all those of you who just said 'Bare Blogging' and thought it was hilarious, Hamilton is giving you a hard stare. And in this weather?)
Let's start with that Bear of Bears, Paddington. Michael Bond saw a lonely little bear on a shelf on Christmas Eve, bought it for his wife and found that there was a story in this bear. It was eleven years after the end of the war, when it was quite usual to see children with suitcases and labels round their necks on London stations. The British ones were evaccuees, the others were refugees, all needed the kindness of strangers like the welcoming Brown family. Paddington waits quietly for someone to look after this bear, confident that someone would. Michael Bond would say later that Paddington wasn't a teddy bear, he was a bear. He had, he said, 'the naivety of a child and the sophistication of an adult'. To me, he has a kind of holy innocence that protects him in spite of whatever comes his way.
What's so great about Paddington, I mean, apart from the hat, the coat, the wellies, the marmalade sandwiches? He believes that everything can be dealt with using good manners and the only weapon he ever uses is the Hard Stare. He raises his hat. He gets into all sorts of difficulties to do with buns, hot baths, and trips to the theatre, but he keeps calm and carries on. Come to think of it, Paddington Bear is a role model. Be More Paddington.