The death of Michael Bond this week struck me as very poignant because, as I am sure is the case for many of us, it spoke to a part of my childhood. It feels like we’ve lost something ineffable.
So I asked my friends and family a question;
What does Paddington mean to you?
The response was excellent and confirmed my feeling that Paddington is a rather special bear. So as a tribute to Paddington’s real life Mr Brown, Michael Bond, I wanted to share some of the thoughts and recollections that people have shared with me;
“Money Boxes.” – Nat
My sister Nat reminded me that we both had Paddington Money Boxes after opening a children’s account with the C&G. I had a Paddington with a blue coat and Nat’s was red. Nat also shared with me the fact that during the time the children’s accounts were first introduced, her husband’s grandfather, Ralph, was a chairman of the Cheltenham and Gloucester building society. This dates our money box experience at about 1982/83. Paddington connects us to a world that seemed simpler, like the London that Paddington inhabited, a friendly place pre-occupied with cakes and tea. A time where police walked the beat in their large helmets and the only time I had to be back home by was “before it was dark.”
“Childhood. A time when everything seemed so much more simple, black and white.” – Joe
“Marmalade sandwiches I liked them as a child” – June
“Travelling back to school on Sunday evening in the early 80s, having crossed London from Colchester. I was a boarder at Reading Grammar. Paddington was in a glass case in the station of which he bears the name (pun intended). Initially he marked the onset of homesickness, but by the third year, I couldn’t wait to get back..!” – Nick
“Being taken to the second hand book shop in our local town to find Paddington Bear books to take with us on holiday. Very exciting as love books, loved Paddington and it was part of going on holiday too! “– Helen
“The value of a hard stare” – Rachel
“Marmalade Sandwiches” – Claire
It was on the news today that people have been leaving tributes of marmalade by the Paddington statue at Paddington station, a beautiful and very British tribute. For me I love marmalade on toast, just marmalade, without a spot of butter.
“Paddington Bear stories were our shared bedtime reading for many of Alex and Abi’s primary years. We used to all get on our double bed and share a story each night, from a Paddington ‘treasury’.” – Susan
“The animated TV series on the BBC with narration by Michael Hordern. And the theme tune, of course!” – Rob
“I love him, he makes me laugh as he is always getting into trouble but there is always a happy ending.” – Samuel (Age 7)
“My childhood. He is such a kind and loving bear.” – Evie
“Paddington makes me laugh and feel happy. I also love his capacity to make the most unexpected of friends, whether it’s a dustbin man or a politician, Paddington treats them all equally. Paddington has taught me a lot about kindness and compassion. I watched the TV series as a child and then re-discovered him by reading the books to my daughter. They made me laugh out loud. I particulary remember the bit in the first book when Mr Brown takes Paddington to the café and buys him some cakes, and Paddington gets up on the table, because he doesn’t know that’s not what people do, I had tears of laughter in my eyes. Since then I have read all the books and the Olga series to both my children. My daughter loved Paddington so much that she wrote a letter, when she was about 5, to Michael Bond’s publisher asking him to write another book. So when “Paddington’s Finest Hour” was published it felt like a wonderful gift.” – John
I recently bought “Paddington’s Finest Hour” and it felt like the return of an old friend. The whole family was excited and my son liked it so much that after I’d finished reading it to him he read it again by himself in two days. Paddington’s finest hour turned out to be Michael Bond’s final chapter but we mustn’t be too sad, as Paddington will live on forever in the books, TV and cinema.
I have started a petition asking the government to consider awarding Mr Bond a posthumous knighthood. A fitting tribute to a gentle genius who brought us so much joy.
You can sign the petition here –
If you have any memories of Paddington that you would like to share then please do so in the comments section below, I’d love to hear from you.