Bear With Us #Paddington #bear #story #London #trains #statue

Paddington station in West London is currently and has been for years, under a considerable amount of construction and re-generation. Yet it is not, and never shall be, without its beloved statue of a bronze bear; a statue no other station can boast of, Paddington Bear.  
A lonely singled-out bear in a Christmas shop window of 1956 was bought by Michael Bond for his wife and became the inspiration for his story book, published in 1958

‘A Bear Called Paddington’

Paddington loves marmalade and is so very frightfully polite, yes sir; he later acquired a pair of red Wellington boots and was adopted by a London family, the Browns.

What a lovely little face, floppy hat, big paws and shaggy coat and with such charming manners. He’s looking out at all the trains pulling in under the vast Victorian iron archways, staring bemused at a 21st century generation of preoccupied lives; the frantic crowds, busying this way and that; he’s just waiting longingly for a hello and how’d you do.  

Many London children were evacuated from Paddington station to the country during World War II. With labels around their necks and a small suitcase of meagre possessions, they were transported safely away from the city to new homes; this too was the inspiration for Paddington’s own label.

‘Please Look After This Bear. Thank You.’

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Rhymes and Reasons #nursery-rhymes #theatre #Easter #moral #happy

‘Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

All the Kings horses and all the Kings men

Couldn’t put Humpty together again…’

This sweet little nursery rhyme actually has a more sinister overtone. Often you find that when you dig a little deeper into the origins and meanings of nursery rhymes, they are not the innocent, dainty tales we enjoy humming and reciting.

Let’s look (photo below) at this Humpty – one too many glasses of wine will tip him over the edge of the wall, on which he precariously balances; in turn his ‘Easter egg’ head will crack open and no matter what help can be provided, no one will be able to mend him.  

Moral: watch your drinking.

But let’s not be sour on a day like today, Easter Monday: the sweetest and stickiest day of the year. The days are getting longer, the gardens are getting brighter, and I am seeing a play tonight called ‘Reasons To Be Happy’ at London’s Hampstead Theatre … start counting your reasons.

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London Poppy Day  #RoyalBritishLegion #remembrance #poppy

Today is LONDON POPPY DAY, 29th October 2015.

‘By wearing a Royal British Legion poppy, you are helping provide support to thousands of veterans, Service men and women.’

The photo below was one of the very many striking images from last year’s (2014) 100 year anniversary of the commemoration of the outbreak of The Great War 1914-1918.

The bronze statue depicts a valiant, yet humble, ordinary War soldier, with hat and rifle. He is coated in red paper poppies, floating all around him, in his arms and at his feet. The monument itself was placed in Trafalgar Square, where during the war rallying speeches were delivered and after the war, joyful celebrations took place.  

He faces the direction of Westminster Abbey, where the tomb of the unknown warrior lies, and towards St Stephens Tower: Big Ben, whose powerful chimes of 11 bells at 11 o’clock on the 11th November, 1918 marked the end of The Great War.

In the background is the glorious St Martin-in-the-Fields church, and behind him lies the National Gallery, home to an incredible collection of paintings.  

He is immortalised and He is home.

I am so in awe of this incredible city.

Do I feel proud of my capital? Absolutely!

The generosity of the British for charitable work is unsurpassable. The ability of people to raise money for so many worthwhile causes is commendable and the kindness shown and the astonishing amounts saved and donated is amazing.
With one Poppy pinned with pride to your coat, you say so much…

You remember all those who have fought for freedom and kept our country safe.

In your honour, London salutes you.

‘When you part from me, and depart our earth,

Your scarlet poppy will grow to bow in a breeze,

Their trembling wave of ‘cheerio, goodbye!’

Makes desert red; while silence bleeds into a distant cry.’

K.B. – 2015

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Bags of personality, bags of possibilities! #trains #poetry #Victorians #British

This wonderful statue (erected in 2007) of poet, writer & broadcaster Sir John Betjeman (1906-1984) stands tall and proud; we are instantly drawn to his admiring glance and topped hat as he poignantly looks upwards at the glorious, sweeping arches of the London station he fort to save, St Pancras.
To think they might have demolished this beautiful structure is ‘criminal folly!’ spoke the outraged founding member of the Victorian Society (1958) and ardent defender of Victorian architecture.
Betjeman’s poetry was humorous, ingrained deeply in a mid-20th century Britishness (Robertson’s marmalade, tea and tennis, angel cake, Ovaltine, bicycle gears, country lanes, buttered toast). It is alive and well in his poems but fading fondly into the quaint, misty background of a bygone British era. Who would have thought that the St Pancras Station of Victorian splendour, saved by Betjeman, would eventually become an International Station and connect us to Paris in 2 and a half hours? And why do the tourists flock to see London and Great Britain, because of our ‘quaint‘ Britishness…so let’s keep it alive!

Possibilities, personality and enthusiasm… You need bags of it…if you lose faith borrow my bag!

Coming into winter…
“Now that the harvest is over
And the world cold
Give me the bonus of laughter
As I lose hold.”
A Nip in the Air by John Betjeman

Turning Wilde

Feeling a bit rebellious? Want to be different, to be recognised, talked about (‘there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about’) want to express yourself in explosive & unusual ways, be eccentric, outspoken, extravagant & totally unconventional? Then go wild for Oscar Wilde.
A man of many talents (gifted author, playwright, poet, conversationalist, champion of the Aesthetic Movement, fine critic & a man of brilliant wit)!
It is hard to know where to begin with Oscar & impossible to stop.
He is pithy, cynical, eloquent, witty, cunning, satirical, unrelenting, & also a great, warm character, generous, spirited, brave & with a profound understanding of human life, human vanities and human frailties. There is so much to say about a man who said so much and I know I will come back to Oscar time and time again.

After the high points, the lows follow…so from a man who really experienced life, the last word must be with him –

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”