Sunday, September 23, 2007

Clarkson, Paddington & the Teletubbies

Zoe, Ganching and I went to the Saturday market in Ballymena yesterday morning. As always I was on the lookout for a bit of pruck. Specifically I was looking for an enamel bucket, preferably with lid, to store pig scraps in. I did not find one. What I did find was a spongeware mug with pig design. Not big enough for swill but cute enough to spend a fiver on.

Since the great Paddington hunt I've also been keeping an eye out for a naked and neglected Gabrielle bear to dress up. After all I do have the pattern sourced at great expense from Texas.
But no luck there either. I did find a couple of nice bits of SylVac for Matty (she collects) which I'll keep for her Christmas present.

I was checking my spongeware mug on Ebay this afternoon to see if I'd been done up like a kipper. It seems I paid a fair enough price for it after all. While I was on I had a look to see if there were any bare Paddington Bears going for a song. There wasn't. But I did learn something new.

I never knew that Jeremy Clarkson started his working life as a travelling salesman for Paddington Bears!*

Seems the very first Paddington Bear was created by Gabrielle Designs in 1972, a small business run by Jeremy's parents Shirley and Eddie Clarkson, with the prototype made as Christmas presents for the Clarkson kids. Although the original Paddington Bear didn't wear boots, Shirley Clarkson dressed her bear in Wellington boots to help him stand upright. The earliest bears wore Dunlop wellies until the Dunlop company could not keep up with production. Gabrielle Designs then produced their own boots with paw prints molded into the soles. Gabrielle Designs eventually went into liquidation, although by this time the Clarksons had sold the company. This means that the original Gabrielle Paddingtons have become quite desirable.

One of the reasons cited for Gabrielle Designs' downfall was the huge popularity of the Teletubbies toys. Paddington just couldn't compete with that craze. Of course it's a while ago now but I remember feeling very baffled to hear grown men and women talk about their quest to buy a Teletubbies toy for their children. The queues for Teletubbies even made the evening news.

I've yet to see the Gabrielle Paddington at the market or in the charity shops but I often see those grubby Teletubbies. I wonder what they're going for on Ebay?

Just checked. Around 99 pence.

*As I read this on Wikipedia it may be lies. I once read on Wikipedia that Jermaine Jackson's son went to Hogwarts and injured Harry Potter during the course of a Quidditch match.


Anonymous said...

I'm sure that the Paddington Bear stories were originally written by Jeremy Clarkson's mother for him and his sister. Mick xxx

Nelly said...

Did you get that on Wikipedia Mick?

ejh said...

Clarkson does spend a bit of time going on about his early days as a salesman for Paddington, so I think the wiki may be spot on. On that issue, at least.

Ellie Lou said...

Michael Bond wrote the original paddington stories for his children. Shirley made the first bear for her children Jeremy and Joanna which quickly turned into a business. The bears were not named Paddington but Earl of Burghwallis bears after the village they lived in. In 1972 The Clarksons ran into infringement and copyright details and received a letter from Michael Bonds solicitor demanding withdraw of the bears from sale. It was Jeremys father who was the salesman- i don't recall Jeremy doing the job. You can read all about it in Shirleys book - My Part in the Paddington Bear Story published by Harriman House.