Michael Bond has died. It shouldn’t really be such a big deal. He was 91. It was, as they say, a good innings. Michael Bond for those of you who are visiting from under a rock was the creator of Paddington Bear and therefore one of the most awesome people to live. Ever.
They say that Paddington reflected the outlook of his creator. He was kind, funny, unflappable and unfailingly polite. Michael Bond said that the tipping of his hat, which Paddington was very fond of, came from his own father, who even wore his hat when in the sea in case he needed to greet anyone.
I loved Paddington Bear. I know lots of people loved Paddington but not like me. I LOVED him. Paddington Bear taught me lots of things. He taught me that to just be nice and kind hearted was a desirable ambition. He taught me that sometimes, even with the best will in the world, things do go wrong and he made me feel that it was fine to be a bit vulnerable like he was.
So, in that vulnerable vein, let me share a little bit. As a child, I never remember my parents having much of a marriage. They were never abusive or anything like that, they were just, quite often caught up in their own unhappiness with each other and that was perfectly understandable I think.
Because of this, I was never really aware of what a “happy” home was. Again – no need to send for a counsellor – it was what it was and I think everyone was doing their best. Christmas was particularly difficult because everyone was around and cracks are more difficult to paper over then and I didn’t really look forward to it. Anyway, I remember being tucked up in bed one night and read a Paddington book about Christmas – as usual Paddington was doing his best and everything went wrong – and it was full of such humour and warmth that, I sort of got what Christmas was about. It was just lovely. I read lots of Paddington books after that and I wanted to be in the Brown family. It was all so lovely – not perfect – Paddington saw to that but people bore things with great patience and loved each other through it. And, when despite his best intentions, Paddington found himself in trouble , he would always be able to go and find his friend Mr Gruber who would listen to him and often offer sage advice.
This may not win me Family Leader of the Year Award but I partially based the way I wanted my family to be on the Browns. They were chaotic, imperfect and not often in control. Yet, everyone was welcome there, Mrs Brown was often worried but it never meant that people felt insecure. That’s how I tried to make things here at Martha Towers. This was the first place I ever saw a map of a family that I wanted to be in and I am grateful.