My haven: Paddington Bear creator, Michael Bond, 86, is happiest in the 'writing den' at his west London home
21:30 GMT, 8 June 2012
Bear necessities: Michael in his writing den
1 DAUGHTER'S TRIBUTE
My daughter Karen was born in 1958, the year my first Paddington book came out, so she grew up with him. Many years ago she made this collage of all the characters I was writing about when she was small, and I keep it here to remind me of those days. She now handles a lot of Paddington-related business for me – and she’s the mother of my three grandchildren! My son, Anthony, who’s 35, is a freelance TV director and producer.
2 THE JOY OF STEAM
Every small boy wanted to be a steam engine driver when they grew up in the old days, including me. There’s something very special about them – the noise, the smell, the steam coming out everywhere. I’d be allowed to stand on the pavement to watch the steam rollers go past, and I got this working scale model of one years ago for about 700. You can fire up the boiler and it’s got similar controls to the real thing.
3 BEAR ESSENTIAL
Late one Christmas Eve, I went out to buy a present for my first wife, Brenda. There was one small bear on a shelf in Selfridges’ toy department and I thought, ‘I can’t leave him there on his own over Christmas!’ So I bought him. Later, as I sat at my typewriter with a blank sheet of paper, I wondered what it would be like if a real bear was found on Paddington station, and it all came together. This little chap is from the 1970s TV series.
4 CAMERA, ACTION!
This cast of a TV camera was given to me by my colleagues as a souvenir of my time as a cameraman at the BBC from 1954. I worked on Blue Peter and Tonight and lots of TV plays, filmed people like Rudolf Nureyev and Ted Heath and ended up a senior cameraman with my own crew. I’d had my first short story published in 1947, and when my writing really started to take off I decided to go freelance, and eventually left the BBC in 1965.
5 SPREAD THE LOVE
Paddington is fond of marmalade sandwiches because I like marmalade on toast for breakfast, and I knew bears like sweet things. Mind you, I’ve regretted this at times because people have sent me jars through the post and they’ve arrived as sticky parcels of smashed glass. My wife Sue makes this very good orange marmalade. We’ve been married for 31 years and it doesn’t seem a day too long!
6 PASSPORT TO PERU
Here’s Paddington’s passport. I made him come from Darkest Peru in the first book because in those days nobody ever went there. But today people go there all the time and I get letters from schools saying they’re off to the Andes to see where Paddington was born. I’ve never been – and I’ve got to the stage where I don’t want to go that far any more. I have a flat in Paris and go there a lot, but the Eurostar’s much more civilised than flying.
Michael's latest book, Paddington Races Ahead (HarperCollins Children’s Books, 10.99 hardback), is out now