Happy Birthday Paddington!

Google UK just told me Paddington, the marmelade loving bear featured in the books by Michael Bond, is 50, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to say Happy Birthday to one of my favourite bears.

I used to have a Paddington Bear when I was little. He was about 15 centimetres high with a red hat and a blue duffle coat that could be fastened with real wooden toggles. He was brilliant. I knitted him a scarf once. I was about 6 or 7 and someone had bought me a kids knitting set for Christmas (with red plastic needles). It was probably my Grandma – she was always into knitting. I got some bright pink wool to go with it so I decided I was going to knit a scarf. I had only knitted a tiny, miniscule scarf (maybe 10 centimetres long) when i got bored of it, so I announced that it was going to be a scarf for Paddington, as if that had been my intention all along. And so it became Paddington’s scarf. Not too long after that both Paddington and scarf went missing – I suspect it happened during our move from Northern Ireland back to England. Lots of stuff went missing during our various moves. I was quite upset about losing Paddington. After all, I had loved him enough to knit him his very own scarf.

Now I have a new Paddington. I spotted him at Heathrow airport the week before last and told Jan, who doesn’t know the Paddington bear books, the story of how I knitted my Paddington a scarf and lost him. I must have sounded pretty nostalgic because Jan promptly counted out the last of his English money to go towards buying me a new Paddington. Naturally I chose one with a red hat and blue duffle coat – some had them the other way round but in my memory Paddington’s coat was blue! My new bear is holding a briefcase and has a label round his neck – “Please look after this bear”. His toggles aren’t real, but that’s ok. I still love him, and I love my boyfriend for spontaneously deciding to buy him for me.

Happy Birthday Paddington Bear! May you continue to eat marmelade sandwiches for another 50 years.

School’s out forever

I was reading this article on BBC news today. It’s about the children’s TV programme Grange Hill. The last ever episode was broadcast just a few weeks ago, apparantly.
I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of sadness as I read the article. Just like when I read a similar article last year, except that time it wasn’t a school that was closing its gates but a youth club. Yep, I’m talking about Byker Grove. Now I know Byker Grove hasn’t been that brilliant for… well, quite a few years now. And for all I know it’s the same with Grange Hill – it has been a while since I last saw it. But I grew up watching those two programmes. We didn’t have sky or cable in those days. No Disney Channel, no Nickolodeon, and the CBBC channel hadn’t even been invented yet. Children’s TV back then was about 3 hours in the afternoon (plus Saturday morning cartoons), and Grange Hill and Byker Grove were a big part of those afternoons. And back in the day they were actually good as well. It just doesn’t feel right knowing they’re not on any more. It’s as if somebody’s gone and taken away a part of my childhood. Next they’ll be telling me Jim’ll Fix It (aka Jimmy Saville) is dead…
Now please don’t anyone go telling me he actually is dead. I don’t think I could take it…

He isn’t, is he?