Save the Bears

This week my morning drive into work has been a bit of a trial.  The traffic has been heavier than normal, for some unknown reason, but more than that, I have had to switch radio stations because I can’t bear the media charity fundraising hullaballoo that’s going on on my ordinary accompaniment of choice.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the switch from music to spoken radio.  Instead of listening to an auction for rich people to buy items that money rather obviously can buy, or listen to other rich people congratulating each other on their incredible generosity, I have been treated to a history of the ‘Save the Bees’ campaign and some rather interesting background to the life and times of Isambard Kingdom Brunel  (his mother’s maiden name is responsible for the Kingdom part, it seems).  It has been a relief.

Not that I have been completely fundraising free. Today I have had to cough up for two non-uniform events, three cake sales and bake a dozen cup cakes (chocolate).  L and I made our way through the flood of competitive-bakery bearing children on their way to school this morning.  Thankfully, this year, I haven’t had to provide some sort of costume (even I can rustle up an apron so that the daughter can claim she is a chef), because that might have been the final straw.

It’s not that I have anything against Children in Need per se.  It’s a worthy charity that supports many worthy causes.  Sam has been the recipient of activities funded, in part, by them, himself and we have been very grateful.  It’s the whole…advertising heartstring-twanging puff that surrounds it that gets to me, and it has been great to take a break from it.

It’s a hard thing to put into words, this feeling of disquiet I have, so I will turn this little post of grumpiness over to Andy Stanton, and continue the story I started here.

The townsfolk looked on in astonishment.  But did any of them go and comfort that poor beast in his hour of soggy need? No, they did not.  Oh, they all said they liked bears.  They all donated money to charities like ‘Bear Aid’, ‘Save The Bears’ and ‘Let’s Buy Some Bears a New Toothbrush’.  But when it came to actually helping one out in real life, it was another story entirely.  It was a story of townsfolk looking on in astonishment – until a heroic young girl called Polly passed by, that is.  Polly was nine years old, with lovely sandy hair and nice trainers, and she simply couldn’t stand to see another person in trouble, especially if that person was a bear.    

‘My goodness, that’s not right,’ she exclaimed, and without a thought for her own safety she approached the beast as he sat there, bawling away like a greengrocer.

‘Good morning, furry visitor,’ said Polly.  ‘I’m sorry you’re so sad.’

‘Mmmmmph?’ said the bear, for the truth was that no human being had ever spoken so kindly to him before.  Taking his tear-stained paws from his eyes, he peered at the little girl who stood unafraid before him in the bright autumn sunshine.

‘Eat her!  Eat her!  Eat her!’ chanted the townsfolk.  Not really, but it would have been funny if they had.

‘My name’s Polly,’ said Polly, gazing into the creature’s doleful hazel eyes.  Through his tears the bear gazed back at Polly, and in that moment something remarkable happened.  In that moment the two of them became the best of friends, like Laurel & Hardy, or Batman & Robin or Albert Einstein & Tarzan.

Andy Stanton, Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear.

Image taken from Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear by Andy Stanton, illustrated by David Tazzyman.
Image taken from Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear by Andy Stanton, illustrated by David Tazzyman.

I don’t know.  Is it enough to make a donation and bake a few cakes?  Is there a child in need, or a family in need who lives near you and who needs a friend like Polly?  Could that friend be you?

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