We were so sad when we heard of Michael Bond’s passing here at Dukeshill. Apart from creating one of the most enduring and loveable children’s characters Paddington Bear, he had also been a rather special and wonderful customer.
Neale and I grew up with Paddington Bear back in the sixties and loved the books. I used to devour them, and Paddington became one of my pivotal childhood icons. I don’t need to rabbit on about how much the books and the character meant to so many of my generation. Throughout the last six decades since Paddington’s birth, the character of Paddington has much like the Queen, given stability and a sense of Britishness, manners and decency which is appealing to old and the young alike.
As a result our daughters Laura and Lucy were introduced to Paddington at an early age. With the audio books read by Stephen Fry and now the films with the wonderful Ben Whishaw voicing Paddington, he is rightfully reclaiming his place as one of our best loved British characters with a whole new legion of fans.
Back in 2011 as our homage to Paddington we made a reference in a brochure asking “if our marmalade covered ham might be Paddington’s favourite ham?”. You can imagine our delight when Michael Bond wrote back! He addressed Laura although it was Lucy whose copy had been used (a bone of contention between two die hard fans ever since!).
There then followed a correspondence over the course of the next year as Michael discovered Laura was not in fact a young child but a young twenty year old living and working in Paris at the time! By sheer coincidence he was living in a flat in Paris and so he very sweetly sent her a signed copy of his Monsieur Pamplemousse book. Monsieur Pamplemousse is a french food inspector and detective who solves crimes with his trusty bloodhound Pommes Frites! Not only was this very apt but Laura highly recommends it as a good read.
So as you can see we are more than a little sad to hear of the great Michael Bonds demise. He and Paddington Bear were, and always will be very much part of our family.
By the way the “marmalade ham” is now known as the St George’s Ham.