Recently a bear in a blue duffel coat with a penchant for marmalade found himself trending on Twitter, after the announcement that Paddington is finally going to become a film.
Producer David Heyman (who also produced Harry Potter) said: "Michael Bond's books offer such wit and wonder, and I am so delighted at this chance to bring Paddington to the big screen."
It's no wonder so many of us feel nostalgic about Paddington (and fiercely protective of the way any film tells his story). He's an institution.
For starters, he's one of the three time-honoured teddy bears who dominate our children's literature (along with Winnie-the-Pooh and Rupert Bear). There's something about teddy bears which reminds children of themselves - perhaps it's the awkward combination of needing to be taken care of and yet having a proud, decisive, independent character.
Michael Bond's original book A Bear Called Paddington , published in 1958, is as delightful today as it always was. Paddington arrives lost and alone in the world from 'darkest Peru' (the label around his neck reads: 'Please take care of this bear. Thank you').
He is taken in, fed and bathed by a kindly family, the Browns, and proceeds to wreak the politest possible havoc across London. Paddington's story also enlightens children about the experience of a foreign refugee, and through his eyes we see London freshly, with its haughty shop assistants, its grumpy taxi-drivers, and its crowds of people 'in a terrible hurry' (it seems little has changed since the 1950s in many ways).
The Browns, Bond later wrote, were based on his parents; their home represents "the rather safer pre-war world which I remember from my childhood". Their no-nonsense housekeeper Mrs Bird is how Bond remembers his childhood best friend's nanny. And Paddington Bear himself was inspired by a toy bear who lived on Bond's mantelpiece - he'd bought him 'in desperation' as a stocking filler for his wife.
Michael Bond, a BBC cameraman and writer for adults, started a story about the bear one morning on his typewriter, without intending it as a children's story - and it turned into what we now know as A Bear Called Paddington within 10 working days. Books about Paddington have gone on to sell over 35million copies.
Bond went on to write the adventures of guinea pig Olga de Polga, but Paddington remains his greatest success.
Isn't it reassuring to know that Michael Bond still lives in London, near Paddington Station?
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