Readers today your in for a treat. Recently whilst away on work matters. Yes I am classed as a key worker and no I’m not at liberty to disclose the exact nature of my work. I happened to catch Paddington and Rupert deep in conversation. Below is a true account of the encounter.
I’ll give an update on my life and our times at the end of this post.
“Hello can I sit with you? You look like a nice person.” “What does your mother say? By the way I’m not a person I’m a bear” “Sorry Mr Bear I hope my mistake didn’t cause hurt. My mum is watching over there.”
The child pointed at a figure, spindly legs, bags, attentive eyes. In my chest I felt the pain of my heart melting, the sting of years of tears creeping towards my eyes. A smile sneaked up on me, softening my features invading my eyes and mouth. Emotions I thought were long dead and buried welled up inside. Outside a young child, much like I was asking for a seat, under the watch of a trusting mother, ensuring no harm came to her young ward. What could an old bear like me possibly do?
“My name is Mr Paddington Bear and because you’re such a polite intelligent child you can sit with me on one condition.” I paused for effect, “you tell me your name first”
“My name is Rupert, Mr Bear.” the child said. “In that case Rupert you shall have a seat.”
“Now, for the seat with the best view, there’s one condition.”
A mixture of hope and fear appeared ready to fight on the boys face. I could see a question forming on his lips. Quickly I cut it off by saying, “if you don’t call me Mr Bear but call me Paddington you can sit on my shoulder.”
The boy gave me a smile, threw it smack onto my face and before I knew it we were both smiling like idiots. The boy climbed up and sat on my shoulder. Who could blame an old bear for that?
I looked towards the mother. Her features soft but eyes razorsharp with care watching me and her son. I got the impression that she trusted her son more than me.
I looked back at the boy his smile has gone concern now etched into his face.
“Paddington why are you crying? Am I hurting your shoulder? Do you want me to go?”
I was lost this young feather of a child. How could he have known how to untie the knot of a lifetime to hurt? Blood, deaths and worse. By what magic trickery had he transported me, an old man, back to that railway station. That railway station, alone, scared, desperate to trust. Watching, while all the other children were collected by caring adults. The uniforms, the tears,the soldier, the shouting, the eyes of the man who gave me the sweet sandwich. His smell, it would hurt my nose, that smell of Hell, if my stomach hadn’t hurt more. And if it hadn’t been the smell of my last home.
Anger rose up, red, fiery, searing, causing pain. I wanted to lash out, destroy. This boy he, he wasn’t the reason, but oh how much pain, he was giving me! Forcing me to remember.
I wanted to make him pay for this pain, but we were sitting in a busy park. His mother, damn his mother, watching like a hawk, trusting this evil scrap of a thing more than me. I’d make him pay. Damn right I’d make sure, that this bundle of rags, paid in full. Paid in full, with interest for tricking me into remembering that train station. I knew men, who knew men who specialised in existing payments from evil children like this.
Thank god his mother was watching and had raised Rupert well. For there she was, striding towards me, rucksack larger than herself, suitcase in one hand, old plastic brimming in the other. Her eyes flashing strong warning, of care and concern. She was battling my flames, rushing towards my fire, to save my life. She had the same eyes as the soldier at that train station,the one with the sandwich, so long ago.
His care eclipsed my ball of raging fire, as the taste of marmalade filled my empty mouth. Stalling for time I asked, “So Rupert where do you come from?”
“The healing star, my mama told me. She said she walked into the shop and said I told her my name.
“I remember a lady who stopped to talk to me when I was sitting on that shelf, she was different to the others. She came straight to me before doing her shopping. She kept coming back, just to speak to me!
“I didn’t understand much of what she said, I remember a few words and phrases.”
Bless this child’s babbling,ramblings, the bright, honest, innocence of his face. His mother has slowed her walk. She was closer now. Close enough, that I could see her ears prick, working in partnership with her eyes, assessing the risk was to her son, checking how my healing was progressing.
“Council tax, University that’s a………Tabitha……….. usually called Tabs, Miss……….she was naughty.”
I didn’t catch all his words, these are just the ones that filtered past the dying flames, of my self righteous and indignation. Admittedly I did not have a whole story but I was sure I knew enough.
This Boy’s mother, obviously a shoplifter, as nobody leaves a child on a shelf in a shop. Tabitha, must be the name of his real mother, obviously a single parent. She must of lost her home because she couldn’t pay the council tax, as all the money went on drugs. This woman walking towards me must be a former University lecturer, probably in social work, who has rescued poor Rupert and his carrying all his worldly goods.
I need to report this so the police can catch this, Miss whatever. I’ll make sure the courts make her feel the full weight of justice.
The fire of anger behind, my freshly pressed shirt and neatly knotted tie, was strong, well fed. I had plenty more fuel safely stored, to ensure that it never went out.
Suddenly the tone of the child changed, cutting through the lullabies slumbe.
“Who’s this Rupert, and why haven’t you offered him a tissue?”
Just a minute. This doesn’t quite fit. Doubt, followed by curiosity, started to pour water on my flames. This lady, was she even a lady? She looked more like one of those homeless man I have to step over on the way to work each morning. It was reaching into her purse, hands looking quite clean, and pulling out an unopened packet of tissues.
“Here Paddington,” she said,in a course deep voice, “you have a theatre something on your cheeks.”
How did she know my name? What had I missed? The fire in me was almost out, so I reached for more fuel. Questions battling to exit my throat. I felt humiliated by this thing, handing me a packet of tissues. Confusion filled my soul, as my throat screamed for a drink, mouth so dry I could not speak, ears a desert all wax removed.
I listened, as she concentrated on the child. “So Rupert, what have you and Paddington been talking about?”
When did she remove the child from me, to hold him close to her breast?
“I was telling him about Tabs, and how when she was naughty she would be called Miss Tabitha.”
“Tabs.” She smiled a smile that filled her voice. “The cat who learnt how to be a cat.”
What had I missed? How could I of been so stupid?
Ignorance of Our Times
Some say it’s strange that I carry a toy with me. Regular readers, of this blog may understand that, Rupert, is one of the few physical links I have with my life before homelessness.
Followers of my social media (BillieHuman) and those who’ve met me in real life, may realise I experience an extreme amount of violence regularly. I have friends, but don’t name them or make it obvious as they get attacked, threatened etc, in an attempt to break my spirit.
So for all my friends out there, please remember you are forever in my thoughts and prayers. I have not forgotten you.
I was relieved when I heard in the news that, the coronavirus vaccine trial branded, Recovery, has been called off. I know for a fact there are pharmacists out there who are also relieved. I’ve met some of them.
My physical health has taken quite a hammering recently. My heart is in poor shape, as are my kidneys. I was diagnosed with suspected cellulitis a few days ago which thanks to my self care has more or less cleared up. Unfortunately, despite my attempts to get treatment I was left to clean and dress the infected wound myself. Please remember to clap and cheer extra loudly on Thursday at 8pm.
Paddington and Rupert
I hope you liked the teaching story. I wrote it to illustrate how, sometimes we are all so wrapped up in our personal lives, that we miss important bits of information. I’m as guilty of this as everyone else.
In this pandemic none of us have all the facts. Apparently there are 200 odd, variants to the small fragment of activated DNA that is the RNA known as Coronavirus.
We live in scary, interesting times. Some say that the UK is fighting a revolutionary insurgency force. All I’ll say is stay safe, look at the facts, ask questions.
People are dying but why are the pubs opening before the large and usually quite empty churches.