For reading aloud tonight, Ann Noone has adapted a story inspired by a Christmas Eve 30 event years ago. In a large London department store, the author Michael Bond, discovered a lonely toy bear left behind on a shelf. He bought him for his wife's Christmas stocking and named him Paddington for the station near where they lived. In "More About Paddington," we discover how Paddington helps his adopted family, the Browns, and their housekeeper, Mrs. Bird, celebrate Christmas.
The Browns were up early on Christmas morning -- much earlier than they had intended. It all started when Paddington woke to find a large pillow-case at the bottom of his bed. His eyes nearly popped out with astonishment when he switched his flashlight on, for it was bulging with parcels, and it certainly hadn't been there when he'd gone to bed on Christmas Eve.
Paddington's eyes grew larger and larger as he unwrapped the brightly coloured paper round each present. A few days before, on Mrs. Bird's instructions, he had made a list of all the things he hoped to have given him and hidden it up one of the chimneys. It was a strange thing, but everything on that list seemed to be in the pillow-case.
There was a large chemistry set from Mr. Brown, full of jars and bottles and test tubes, which looked very interesting. And there was a miniature xylophone from Mrs. Brown, which pleased him no end. Paddington was fond of music -- especially the loud sort, which was good for conducting -- and he had always wanted something he could actually play.
Mrs. Bird's parcel was even more exciting, for it contained a checked cap which he'd specially asked for and had underlined on his list. Paddington stood on the end of his bed, admiring the effect in the mirror for quite a while.
Jonathan and Judy had each given him a travel book. Paddington was very interested in geography, being a much travelled bear, and he was pleased to see there were plenty of maps and coloured pictures inside.
The noise from Paddington's room was soon sufficient to waken both Jonathan and Judy, and in no time at all the whole house was in uproar, with wrapping paper and bits of string everywhere.
"I'm as patriotic as the next man," grumbled Mr. Brown. "But I draw the line when bears start playing the National Anthem at six o' clock in the morning -- especially on a xylophone."
As always, it was left to Mrs. Bird to restore order. "No more presents until after lunch," she said, firmly. She had just tripped over Paddington on the upstairs landing, where he was investigating his new chemical set, and something nasty had gone in one of her slippers.
"It's all right, Mrs. Bird," said Paddington, consulting his instruction book, "it's only some iron filings. I don't think they're dangerous."
"Dangerous or not," said Mrs. Bird, "I've a big dinner to cook -- not to mention your birthday cake to finish decorating." Being a bear, Paddington had two birthdays each year -- one in the summer and one at Christmas.
After they'd had breakfast and been to church, the morning passed quickly and Paddington spent most of his time trying to decide what to do next. With so many things from which to choose it was most difficult. He read some chapters from his books and made several interesting smells and a small explosion with his chemistry set.
Mr. Brown was already in trouble for having given it to him, especially when Paddington found instructions headed "Indoor Fireworks." He made himself a "never ending" snake which wouldn't stop growing and frightened Mrs. Bird to death when she met it coming down the stairs.
"If we don't watch out," she confided to Mrs. Brown, "we shan't last over Christmas. We shall either be blown to smithereens or poisoned. He was testing my gravy with some litmus paper just now."
Mrs. Brown sighed. "It's good job Christmas only comes once a year," she said, as she helped Mrs. Bird with the potatoes.
"It isn't over yet," warned Mrs. Bird. But, fortunately, fairly soon, they all sat down to dinner.
Paddington's eye glistened as he surveyed the table. He didn't agree with Mr. Brown when he said it all looked too good to eat. All the same, even Paddington got noticeably slower towards the end when Mrs. Bird brought in the Christmas pudding.
After the dinner things had been cleared away and they all sat round a blazing fire, feeling warm and comfortable. Mr. Brown rubbed his hands. "Now, Paddington, since it's not only Christmas but your birthday as well, what would you like to do?"
A mysterious expression came over Paddington's face. "If you all go in the other room," he announced, "I've a special surprise for you. I shan't be long."
Within a short time, Paddington called them back into the dining-room. "I've finished wrapping my presents and they're all on the Christmas tree." If the Browns recognized the wrapping paper they had used for Paddington's presents earlier in the day, they were much too polite to say anything.
"I'm afraid they're rather ordinary," said Paddington, as he settled back in a chair to watch the others. "But I hope you like them. They're all labelled so that you know which is which."
"Ordinary?" exclaimed Mr. Brown, as he opened his parcel. "I don't call a pipe rack ordinary. And there's an ounce of my favourite tobacco tied to the back as well!"
"Gosh! A new stamp album!" cried Jonathan. "Whizzo! And it's got some stamps inside already."
"They're Peruvian ones from Aunt Lucy's postcards," said Paddington. "I've been saving them for you."
"And I've got a box of paints," exclaimed Judy.
"Thank you very much, Paddington. It's just what I wanted."
"We all seem to be lucky," said Mrs. Brown, as she unwrapped a parcel containing a bottle of her favourite lavender water. "How did you guess? I finished my last bottle only a week ago."
"I'm sorry about your parcel, Mrs. Bird," said Paddington, looking across the room. "I had a bit of a job with the knots."
"It must be something special," said Mr. Brown.
"It seems all string and no parcel."
"That's because it's really clothes line," explained Paddington, "not string."
When he made his way up to bed later that evening, his mind was in such a whirl, and he was so full of good things, he could hardly climb the stairs -- let alone think about anything. He wasn't quite sure which he had enjoyed most. The presents, the Christmas dinner, the games, or the tea -- with the special marmalade-layer birthday cake Mrs. Bird had made in his honour. Pausing on the corner half-way up, he decided he had enjoyed giving his own presents best of all.
Tomorrow was another day -- and he felt quite sure he would have some more adventures -- even if he didn't know what they were going to be as yet.
Paddington lay back and pulled the blankets up round his whiskers. It was warm and comfortable and he sighed contentedly as he closed his eyes. It was nice being a bear. Especially a bear called Paddington. Adapted from the book More About Paddington by Michael Bond, illustrations by Peggy Fortnum, published by Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston.
1959, Michael Bond. Reprinted by permission.