Wotcha, Jude! Wanna know about the monking?

4 Nov

Well, Jude, I’ve had my month of monking, and jolly good it was, too.  Wot a laugh!

Here is a picture of my whip. I took it into the monastery with me cos I saw The Da Vinci Code on DVD (I’ve been banned from the local cinema) and I really liked that scene where the evil monk bear gives himself a thrashing, and I thought Stephen might like me to give him a going-over.  But guess what, Jude – when I suggested it he made a sort-of whimpering noise and ran off and hid in the chapel. What a weed. He knew I wouldn’t follow him there cos I didn’t like the chapel very much.  Rather too holy for my liking.

Some of the more girly monks had little pink whips with tassles. But mine’s the real thing, made for me by a Merchant Navy officer bear.

Now then, as for the Archbear bloke, the boss of the monastery – what a meanie!  He had a telly in his room and watched all the Olympics on it and only let us monks join him a few times. We saw Usain Bear winning the hundred wotsits. I do like to see rugged, manly bears getting sweaty.  My old chum Jumping Jack Bear entered for the high jump, and missed, then he did the pole vault and cheated by using a pole with extra springiness in it and went sailing out of the stadium – no idea where he landed, probably the Thames. But the best was – Brother Ignatius Marathon Bear, the Archbish’s nephew, took a wrong turning in the marathon, never reached the finishing line and hasn’t been heard of since. Tee hee! We all knew he’d been planning his escape for ages, cos his uncle Archbear had forced him to join the monastery but Ignatius wanted to go to Amsterdam to be with the jolly Dutch bears.

The worst thing about the monking was the 5 a.m. starts. But I put up with them because monastery life was such a gas, messing about in brown frocks with all those bears, and drinking the cider, and getting together with my chums to teach the saintlier bears a lesson. There weren’t too many saintly ones, actually.  We soon sorted ’em out.

The trouble is, though, Jude – now we’re back home after our big monking adventure I’m finding Stephen a bit boring. I’m beginning to feel restless! I’m casting my eye round the house where we live … and I can’t stop looking at Paddington!  He’s been here all along, sitting quietly on a shelf, but I never gave him a second glance before. It’s as if I’m seeing him properly for the first time.  His chunky duffel coat … those shiny blue wellies … phwoarrr!



My dear Judy,

1 Sep

Our month in the monastery is at an end.  Time will tell how much spiritual benefit Ted has derived from it.  I am certain that beneath his gruff and earthly manner there is a heart of gold.  And yet … am I a wicked and faithless bear for allowing small doubts to creep in?  Am I doing that good and noble bear an injustice?

What happened was this.  The monks make and sell their own cider from the monastery orchard. Ted and a group of his new friends made their way down to the cellars one night and drank the entire stock. Their absence was noted at five o’clock the following morning when we all got up. They were discovered in an unseemly heap on the cellar floor.

Ted told the Archbear that they were tasting the cider to help the monastery’s quality control.  Judging the first bottle to be ‘rotten’, they thought they had better taste them all.  The Archbear was surprisingly receptive to this explanation.  He said he knew Ted’s friends to be monks of good and honest character; and if they had taken a willing part in this exercise, it must indeed have been for honourable motives.  On Ted’s advice he has now increased the alcohol content of the cider.

I am sorely troubled, my dear Judy.  I cannot help wondering why it was necessary for every single drop of the cider to be consumed, in order for Ted to establish its quality.

I am a poor character indeed. I am ashamed of myself for these doubts. I owe it to my Ted to believe in him wholeheartedly.

Your remorseful and unworthy friend,

Father Stephen

Watch out, monks, here I come!

22 Jul

Guess wot, Jude! Stephen rang the ol’ Archbear Chief Head Monk bloke at that monastery I was telling you about, and put in a good word for me so’s I can go and do some monking.

Stephen was on the phone for ages.  There was a spot of bovver coz the old fusspot – the Archbear, I mean, not Stephen, though Stephen’s a bit of an old woman in his own way. What was I saying? –  oh, yeah, the Archmonk wanted to know if I’d ever been in any trouble, like with the bear police, or anything like that.

Well, Jude, you know what Stephen’s like – he can’ t tell a lie.  He just can’t do it.  (What a drip!  He doesn’t know what he’s missing. I l0ve lying.)  Anyway, Stephen said yes, there had been an incident a long time ago and the Archbish bear said, what was that, then? and Stephen said I’d been the innocent party in a brawl with some very rough bears outside a pub in Cardiff.  Cheers, Stephen – ‘innocent’, eh?  Thanks for wrecking my street-cred.

I remember that night, Jude. Hee-hee-hee! It was two summers ago, before I met Stephen. There was this marvellous pub, full of frothing tankards, and bears knocking ’em back, and playing darts and flicking peanuts at the landlord.  You should’ve been there, Jude.  The place was jumpin’!  It was dead hot outside, too.  Really sweaty. Anyway, after chucking-out time I was having a fag in the back alley when this big brawny brutish bear in leathers came up and called me a girlie so I socked him one. Then the landlord opened the door and kicked out these two bears he’d found asleep on the floor in the loo, and they joined in, and we were all merrily bashing each other when someone called the bear cops and I got blamed. Wottalarf!

Where was I? Oh, that’s right, the Chief Monk Archbear. Well, he was a bit sniffy about all this and he said he took a ‘dim view’ or something pompous like that, but Stephen said he was convinced it was a miscarriage of justice and that in his eyes I hadn’t a stain on my character.

So I’m in!  The only drawback is, Stephen’s got to come with me to discourage me from going to any pubs.  He’s acting as guarantor for my good conduct. It’s going to be such a gas, Jude. I can’t wait to meet the monks. When I’m on gardening duty I’ll scratch about with the rake for a few minutes, then fling it behind a bush and go off and do some private sunbathing.  I’ll get Stephen to cover for me.

Love from Ted


A quiet evening with Ted

19 Jul

My very dear friend Judy,

Ted was rather bored earlier this evening.  He couldn’t find anything to amuse him on the TV.  I suggested a DVD – the other night I’d recorded one of the plays of William Shakesbear.  But Ted said he’d done Shakesbear at school and hadn’t rated him.

He is now happily occupied, lying on the sofa with a small can of beer, a slab of cake, a pencil and a notebook, making a list of my faults.

I am so very grateful to him, my dear Judy.  I’m always anxious to improve my character so that I can be worthy of him.

Yesterday he told me that he would like to enter the monastery which I visited recently for my period of reflection. They offer a four-week residency for bears who would like to sample the monastic life. To earn their keep, the bears have to help in the vegetable garden. I didn’t know that Ted was interested in gardening but he says he likes marrows and cucumbers.

What is your opinion, Judy?  Should I support him in this worthy plan? I am sure that the monastery would benefit enormously from Ted’s presence.  He has such a good, honest soul.  My friend the Archbear would, I feel, help Ted to discover his spiritual side.

Yours with deep affection,




Yo, Jude!

12 Jul

Stephen’s in the bedroom, doing his yoga and stuff. He’s dead good at the lotus position. Do I mean lotus or locust? The one where you tie your legs in a knot. Whatever!  I can’t be arsed, myself.

I’ve been thinking about that business of Stephen going off to that monastery place to see the Archbear or Archduke or whatever the silly ass calls himself.  Stephen’s dead interested in places like that, and being all deep and weird about everything, and anyway, Jude, it’s got me thinking.  The thing is, I’m a bit bored.  I won’t be seeing Tarquin at the supermarket any more coz good old Tarkers has gone and got the sack.  They caught him with a bottle of creme de menthe down his trousers.  I’m really peed off with him.  Fancy getting caught! He’s gone off to London to do modelling.

What was I saying?  Oh, yeah, about that monastery. I’ve been thinking, I might quite fancy a bit of monking. Wotcha think, Jude?  Think I’d be any good? I don’t want to do it for ever.  Just a few weeks, to see what they get up to – gardening and singing and eating porridge. It’d be fun!  I bet I could shake the Archbear up a bit.  I might be able to make something out of him.

I’ll run it past Stephen when he’s finished his yoga.



Dear friend Judy,

25 Jun

My heart is full! Let me tell you why.

Ted returned from his expedition to the supermarket with neither the rum nor the sherry he had intended to buy.  I asked him why this was.

‘Eh?’ said Ted, blankly.  (He is enchantingly forgetful sometimes.)  ‘Oh, right, yeah.  They’d sold out.’

Had he given my regards to the kindly Tarquin?  I asked.

‘Er … no, he wasn’t there,’ replied Ted, and then he stumped off to have a shower. (I must say, he was looking rather hot and flushed. The trip to the supermarket had probably tired him.)

And suddenly – oh, joy! – above the noise of the shower, I heard him singing Be My Love in his rich, powerful tenor, in the style of Mario Lanza.

I was deeply moved, my dear Judy, especially when he sang the line about nobody else being able to end his yearning. To have awakened such passion in my rough-diamond Ted that he bursts into song – my heart is filled with pride! I am blessed indeed!

This afternoon, he and I have been watching the first day of Wimbledon.  If Ted has a fault, it is his short attention span. After a few moments he became restless and started stalking round the room with his paws in his trouser pockets, whistling through his teeth. Then he said that in his opinion Wimbledon only gets interesting when the bear men’s doubles are on.

He has now gone back to the supermarket to see if the new stocks of rum and sherry have arrived.

He is so kind, to keep running errands like this.

Your affectionate friend Stephen

My dear Judy,

22 Jun

Yes, it was indeed me whom you spotted last week, strolling with my friend the Archbear of the Monastery of Sanctified Bears.  I had gone there for a short spell of reflection, to contemplate my doubts about Ted’s fidelity.  The Archbear helped to restore my faith and I am now quite satisfied that nothing would persuade Ted to betray me.

It is a great comfort, to have your support.  Please do not tell Ted that I’ve been emailing you with my worries.  I wouldn’t like him to think that I don’t trust him.

He’ll be back soon so I must log off – he has gone out to buy sweet sherry for me and rum for himself.

Strangely, it is taking him rather a long time. Perhaps he has been unable to find the right products – but there is a very friendly young bear called Tarquin who is usually on duty in the supermarket at this time of day. I’m sure he will help Ted to find what he’s looking for.

With my best wishes,

Father Stephen