I was standing in a doorway, my mum on her hands and knees in the far corner of the walk in wardrobe. There was a sizeable pile of assorted towels, sheets, duvet covers and pillow cases behind us on the bed. Some cushions already gathered up off the bed and stuffed into a bin bag looked like they were about to fall over. In the background I could hear the lift doors beeping as it arrived up on the tenth floor ready for my dad and Mr B to load it up with the next pile of pictures, ornaments or various soft furnishings. The girls were in the room next door rummaging through a bedside table filled with their old drawings and broken pencils and crayons.
My mum grabbed something from the bottom shelf and pulled it forward before waving it aloft. “Do you remember this?” she turned to me and said.
I burst into tears.
Of course I remember it. It’s my Paddington Bear. The one my granny bought me when I was about two or three. I remember her telling me how she had nipped out in her lunch hour when she was working in a letting agency on the Kings Road in Chelsea and bought it from a toy shop up the road (it’s the Pancake House now, you see I even know where the shop was). She had carried it home on the Tube, with other passengers asking her about it because Paddington was new, was unusual and was “the” toy to have that year.
One of my earliest memories was my taking Paddington’s wellingtons off and wearing them myself. Squeezing my feet in them and dancing around my bedroom. He still has original duffel coat with the toggles though his hat and luggage tag are sadly long gone.
When it was announced the Michael Bond had died on June 28th I had this Twitter conversation:
and I thought about where that Paddington Bear was. I had a huge collection of cuddly toys at one point, collected as a child when my dad had been away on a business trip, he would always bring one home. The collection had grown to include all sorts of others that I had acquired as an adult but when I got divorced and moved out of my house 16 odd years ago I got rid a lot of them, keeping the special ones. Of course Paddington was one of the special ones but I have moved twice since then and when I thought about Paddington on June 28th I realised I know longer knew where he was.
It made me sad and I spent an hour or two wondering where he might be that afternoon, and I was upset I wouldn’t see those wellies again.
Which is why I cried and through tears explained all of the above to my slightly confused looking mum. The kids all thought I was deranged when I tried to explain my tear stained face to them. It didn’t make any real sense to them. Their mum sobbing over a 45 year old stuffed toy?
But it did to me. Paddington Bear was just the little migrant bear who wanted a family to look after him and he’s home now.