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  • Judith Bareham

For the Love of a Bear

My muse today is Bears and by that I refer to teddy bears; we all have a particular furry friend, don’t we?

Missing an eye perhaps or a button, or a nose fondly rubbed away.

The love of a bear cannot be underestimated. And I consider a narrative bear to be no less worthy of such affection.

I can think of three who are universally appealing and who captivated me since childhood and have stood the test of time.

I think maybe knowing my roots, you can guess of whom I speak.

If I have stumped you however, they are namely, Paddington Bear, Winnie the Pooh and the perhaps lesser known Rupert the Bear.

They all started out in life as narrative characters but ultimately have ended up stars of the screen in their career paths.

Paddington may not be such a household name in America but in the UK he is as British as, well, tea or crumpets.

I was an avid fan of the original TV series of Paddington in the 70's, when T.V was at its best in my opinion. I was mesmerized by the accident prone little bear.

Incredibly literal in the way he grasped life, the stories were short and sweet, and no matter the trouble he caused, he always found a way out of it and came out on top.

Paddington Bear has made a name for himself and experienced somewhat of a resurgence in cartoon form, and of course, in the recent movies.

Recently I was looking for a new wardrobe choice (as you do) for my 1972 original Paddington Bear, to have him change with the seasons, but this proved harder than expected. A glance at the toddler section in Target was looking hopeful, but then I actually measured him. He’s such an odd shape. Suffice to say, he’s spent the better part of the Summer baring his chest, dressed only in shorts and wellington boots.

I eventually located a site in the UK and ordered his more aptly colored blue duffel and red boots. He had yellow boots originally and it felt wrong to me – they just had to be red like in the stories. My dad kindly traveled to deliver them in person...a small price to pay.

Winnie the Pooh is older by far and probably wins the category for classic bear.

I choose to believe that every household has a Pooh something or other somewhere, be it nursery bedding, a framed picture, book, figurine, or quote with a depiction of him on it.

The Disney update introduced a whole new generation to this lovable bear and his friends, but the A. A. Milne rendering is something else entirely. The fact that movies are still being made about these stories has to stand for something. Pooh’s self - deprecating ways and winsome heart are just hard not to love.

We used to live not so very far from the original "Pooh Corner," and the bridge from which the obligatory Pooh sticks is played (if you've never heard of's not quite as garish as it might sound). It's a game which spans the generations - how could A. A. Milne have known that this fictional creation would still retain it's popularity?

There's a Pooh quote for most every situation in life and I think it's pretty amazing to be so renowned that you have entire books of quotes about you - he just wormed his way into our affections and has stayed the test of time. Pretty remarkable for a fictional bear.

And finally Rupert. Every Christmas, I would anticipate the new Rupert Annual and pour over each page. He might be lesser known than even Paddington, but Rupert was notable for his checkered pants, red sweater and yellow scarf - (he never did have any other clothes it seems) but this was his signature trademark.

He had his animal pals to share adventures with too, and he was always intent on trying to help others and make wise choices.

I wonder if these Bears were ever to cross paths what nuggets of wisdom they might share, and would they even like each other?

Combine Paddington's ability to navigate sticky waters, Pooh's sage wisdom, and Rupert's kindly ways and there might be something we could all learn from these beloved bears.

Now tell me who your favorite bear is............

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