Paddington wasn’t always a major, nor was he always nude. Once – I’m told – he sported a magnificent blue duffle coat and a large black hat. Sadly they fell victim to moths and had to be thrown away. Ever since Paddington has maintained his vigils au naturel but no one seems to mind.
Perhaps this is because we’ve come to expect nudeness of our bears. By that I don’t mean real bears – grizzly, brown, polar, panda or otherwise – who seem quite content going about their business scaring humans and doing unmentionables in the woods in just their super furry glory. Rather I mean those cheeky, all-singing, all-dancing, joke-telling, honey-stealing, marmalade sandwich-eating bears that inhabit our children’s books, comics, television shows and movies. Like Kylie and Madonna they are immediately recognisable by their first names - Yogi, Boo Boo, Fozzie, Pooh, Baloo, Sootie, Rupert, Paddington, Humphrey – but at least the queens of pop know how to wear underwear.
And what better way to show your independence in co-dependence than by silently asserting your right to do what you do best? This pantlessness is no empty gesture when you remember what bears do in the woods. Think about it. How difficult it must be to remove boxer shorts in a hurry with claws? How easy to put your huge clumsy furry fingers through the delicate lace of a pair of bear-bikini bottoms? Surely you need an opposable thumb to un-wedgie a lycra thong when you just gotta go? Is it not inconceivable that bears, constrained by human-imposed 95% cotton 5% elastane bonds have slowly and secretly removed their pants so they can do what they gotta do? 'Humans - can't live with them, can't live without them - but I'll be damned if I'm gonna ask to go poop.'
Rupert: gaye and free
Chief Scout and adventurer Bear Grylls: inspiring young boys everywhere
We have considered buying Major Paddington a new coat, a smart bright red jacket becoming of his seniority and important role as head of security in our family. We still may, but rest asured we will never forget the he is first and foremost a bear, noble and proud, and furthermore we will never, ever force him to wear pants.