Thursday, 29 June 2017
At a time of dreadful, heartbreaking, infuriating and terrifying news on a daily basis, let us pause to remember a true gentleman and his creation of simplicity, old fashioned politeness and quiet very British humour.
Michael Bond, the creator of Paddington Bear, died yesterday at the age of 91. He also wrote much loved children's TV show The Herbs that filled a slot that was later filled by television adaptations of his Paddington books. But it was Paddington for which he will always be best known and indeed loved. They touched a whole generation of children with their gentle humour about a bear who always meant well, had been beautifully brought up in darkest Peru and given exquisite manners by his Aunt Lucy but who frequently got into trouble.
Michael Bond was in many ways Paddington himself, although he said that he based the character on his father. He was a modest and charming man whose good fortune never ceased to surprise him. Yet it was not good fortune really. It was born of a talent for writing great characters and stories that children loved. So much so they carried that love into adulthood. Bond's bear became such a staple of British life that he now has pride of place in the train station that gave him his name.
Though he claimed not to greatly enjoy writing, something that many or even most writers will have a certain empathy with, Michael Bond carried on until nearly the end. His last Paddington book was finished only recently and was published earlier this year. His legacy is of a great children's fictional character which sold 35 million books and a place in children's hearts up there with the creations of Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, AA Milne and JK Rowling.