So. I've been reading A Bear Called Paddington (1958), the first book in the famous children's series by Michael Bond.
I suppose it's an unlikely choice of reading matter for someone who turns 46 in three weeks time but then, to be fair, I have told you I'm a Soft Southern Jessie. I started June with a hardback copy of Tony Blair's A Journey from the library, but after the early chapters on the first few months of power, the Irish peace process and Princess Diana's death, my interest has started to wane a tad. I'm at the stage of it where Iraq is looming like a great toxic cloud and I'm not sure I've got the stomach for it, or the authorial self-justification it'll bring. That the bloody thing weighs a ton and is not easy to lug about on the train, tube and bus hasn't helped either.
The Paddington temptation came my way when the youngest daughter dumped it by the front door it in a pile of books to be donated to the school summer fair. I fished it out, a little piqued, since it was a favourite from when I was her age I'd spun heavily with her hoping she'd love, and harrumphing 'You can't throw that out!', commandeered it.
I thought I'd just read the first page over a cup of tea on Saturday, but of course I got (re)hooked. I'm a pretty miserable bugger at the moment, for a number of reasons to dull to go into here, and to move about again in that cosy late 50s world of hot baths, housekeepers and marmalade sandwiches, grumpy London Underground inspectors and stuffy department store managers (rightful recipients of the Paddington Hard Stare) and convivial cocoas with Mr Gruber in his Portobello Road antique shop was.....therapy. I slept better than I have for months.
Clearly I am a troubled individual retreating into the comforting meta-topography of a retrospectively idealised childhood when I should be squaring up in a manly fashion to the raw challenges of Now.
Or maybe I'm just tired.
Herbert Chappell - 'Paddington Bear (TV Theme)' (1975)