Thinkings of Old Bears.

Posted on 01/01/2017 By

Old Bears.

Old Bears.

The mist hung low over South Holmwood village. I didn’t want to go out in the damp. Not good for my mohair. Bobby wanted to go to football in Sutton and I thought “You go, I’ll stay here cosy and warm. I can listen to Kate Rusby again!” Old Bears Syndrome?

The Frost is all Over

Much later he finally returned. Very grumpy indeed. No driving. Buses and trains took so long. I couldn’t disguise my disinterest. He knew this would be the case, but at least the “U’s” won.

Old Bears - Sutton United Football Programme cover.

Picture of United’s programme cover – Sutton United vs Wrexham from Saturday 17 December 2016.

On the way, he had jumped off the bus in West Street. Dorking’s internationally well known street of antique shops. Beautiful old buildings, including the former teddy bear shop where he and I had first clapped eyes on each other. Now a gift shop, next to the delectable Gorgeous Gerties tea room. The latter once a record shop with listening booths.

Old Bears - Gorgeous Gerties. Former teddy bear shop left. Dorking Museum right, down the alley

Gorgeous Gerties. Former teddy bear shop left. Dorking Museum right, down the alley.

These days, the domination of antique shops is being challenged by shabby chic; coffee shops; a bike shop. Even a posh ladies underwear shop, that changes its display seemingly everyday. So Bobby tells me…

As he walked along that attractive street, he was delighted to see a lovely window display full of teddy bears and other animals. So enticing he thought I might like to meet them. Here is what Bobby did.

Old Bears - Antiique Shop Old Bears - Bertie meets the bears at the Antiique Shop. Old Bears - Bertie meets the bears at the Antiique Shop.

Old Bears - Bertie meets the bears at the Antiique Shop.

Bertie meets the Old Bears.

Bobby… “I went into the shop and gave the slightly snooty assistant my Mindfully Bertie card. I asked if it would be OK to bring my bear down to have his picture taken in the window display through the window from the pavement? They would all appear on the blog.”

“How old is your bear?”

“25. I bought him in the teddy bear shop that used to be almost opposite.”

“Oh no, I don’t think so. We are not interested in new bears. These are antique. Collectors pieces. We couldn’t be associated with a modern bear. But my son owns the bears. You may ring him to discuss your proposition.”

“I only asked for a picture!”

“I’m sorry. Good day.”

Bertie… Standing back out on the pavement, Bobby knew he had to tell me…

“WHAT! BLEEDIN CHEEK” (sarf London). In other words I am not good enough. Not old enough. Not tatty enough. I am a toy. Not a sophisticated deep thinker, but simply a mate of Paddington and other common bears.’

Bobby… “She never said that, Bertie. Just that you were not old enough. Too modern…”

Bertie… “BUT… I am a one man bear with a full service history. Only you Bobby. Just think of the adventures my readers know about. What do we know about these antique bears? They are old. Very old. Fragile. Destined to lead sheltered lives in a cabinet or bookshelf. Out of reach of the worst that can be inflicted upon them… CHILDREN! ‘Don’t touch that bear. It’s very old and valuable. Not for children or anything else.’

Or even, God forbid, an investment to be locked away from sunlight in case of fur fade.

But, of course, I do think a lot. This is Age Discrimination. I actually feel sorry for these old stagers. Longing for a child’s warm embrace, which they probably remember from a long time ago. Wanting to be loved. Talked about. Making people laugh and smile as I do. Even writing a blog, like the one you are reading now.”

So, together with Bobby 2, we went down to West Street and looked through the window at these sad old bears. They are very attractive in a Downton Abbey way but their fun days are over. If they could see me looking through the window, I wonder what they saw. Seeing me in a laughing child’s arms about to go for a ride on a 93 bus with my special friend Bobby 2.

Old Bears - Metrobus No 93 Bus at Dorking.

Bobby 2 and the No 93 Metrobus.

It’s like seeing a steam engine in a museum. An aeroplane in a collection. A stuffed bird in a Victorian bird cage. Dead. Stuffed. Cold boiler. Never to feel the wind under your wings again.

Bobby didn’t ring the son. He knew a bear cemetery was no place for me. Or the disappointment the teddy bear snobs might suffer when they find out who could have been in their window display rather than outside looking in.

Despite these reservations it is a lovely window display.

With half an hour to while away time until the next 93, we had a stroll down West Street. If you are ever in Dorking do have a look.

West Street, Dorking.

Old Bears - West Street, Dorking. The Kings Arms.

The Kings Arms.

Old Bears - West Street, Dorking. The Star.

The Star.

Old Bears - West Street, Dorking. Old House.

Old House.

Old Bears - West Street, Dorking. Cobbetts.


Four pubs: The Kings Arms, possibly the oldest building in Dorking. 1405. The Star. A musical pub. The Old House, a lovely old pub with a wonderful mural on the wall welcoming you into the town. And Cobbetts. A micropub. No music, but books and the biggest selection of beer known to man.

Olde Bears - West Street, Dorking. Fluffatorium.

Fluffatorium. A colourful kaleidoscope of craft making. Home possibly of the “urban knitters”, whose creations periodically appear around the town.

Old Bears - West Street, Dorking. Shabby Chic Country Living.

Shabby Chic Country Living.

Old Bears - West Street, Dorking. Shabby Chic Country Living.

Shabby Chic Country Living.

Old Bears - West Street, Dorking. Head for the Hills Bike Shop.

Head for the Hills – Bike Shop.

Old Bears - West Street, Dorking.Victoria's Underwear Shop.

Victoria’s Underwear Shop.

Old Bears - West Street, Dorking. Dorking Models.

Dorking Models. Great model shop. Online too.

Old Bears - West Street, Dorking. The Old Fire Station.

The Old fire station, that became the Performing Arts library, that became Pets Corner.

Old Bears - West Street, Dorking. Antique Shop.

And not forgetting those famous Antique Shops.

Old Bears - West Street, Dorking. Old House Mural.

Or the Old House mural. Love it.


The staff in Waitrose are so helpful.

Old Bears - Eve and Bobby 2 in Waitrose.

Here’s Eve wheeling Bobby 2 through the store.

I don’t believe it!

Victor Meldrew "I Don't Believe It"!Christmas was always going to be difficult for Bobby. And was. Leaving a miserable Boxing Day uplifted by a country walk. He needed to meet his Al Anon friends in Islington. Tuesday 27th December. A Public Holiday. Bus, train, walk through Islington. No buses, so an hour’s walk to the station. Nice morning and downhill. Train fine…! The meeting as uplifting as ever. Troubled brows overwhelmed with honesty and laughter. A real tonic.

So, onto St Martin’s in the Fields to light candles for Diddley and sister Wendy. A rehearsal for a Viennese evening. Young orchestra. Free to watch. “Excuse me sir. We are shutting now for the evening concert”. Bobby looked around. No orchestra. A deserted church. Nice way to fall asleep.

How about a treat, given the improving mood? A film at the BFI. (British Film Institute). Accepting that an expensive taxi would replace the last bus home. £11.65 for five minutes and three miles. Until Bobby can drive again.

“Meet me in St Louis”. 1944. A young, beautiful, Judy Garland. “Meet me in St Louis” itself on the Strictly Christmas Special. Here’s some unforgettable songs from 72 years ago.

The Trolley Song.

Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

The Boy Next Door.

Order was restored. The policemen with machine guns on Waterloo Station smiled. The taxi driver apologised for charging £16.65. (I don’t believe it!). “Sorry mate. Public Holiday.”

“That’s OK. It’s been a good day” ….. (yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery, so live for today)

Lighting a candle for Diddley

Old Bears - West Street URC (United Reformed Church), Dorking.

West Street URC, Dorking.

West Street has its own church. The United Reform church. So this week’s candle is lit there.

Old Bears - Happy Christmas, Diddley.

Diddley and Kyla.

Merry Christmas Diddley. We really miss you.

Lighting a Candle for Diddley.

A Candle lit for Diddley.

Laurel Cottage
Happy New Year


I Don't Believe It!Old BearsPS    

  1. Avatar Chris Norman says:

    Happy New Year to Laurel Cottage.

    Who’s the Riff Raff in Dorking? A man with aa old bear?
    Angie & I got associated with riff raff of Nailsworth at one time.

  2. Avatar Fliss Drewett says:

    Blimey Bertie…..what a blinkin’ check to insult a bear of such stature as your good self in West Street. So glad you and Bobby had a good day in London. I’ll ask Rupe and the lads to to carry out a “bear faced cheek protest. Your chum…..Portland Bill.

  3. Avatar Bernard says:

    What happened to the xmas spirit .. plenty of more bears around that will oblige…there loss

  4. Avatar Amanda Nimmo says:

    Hello Bertie, we met you in Worthing. Think you and Bobby were having a ‘bit of a family’ day, but you were making the most of it, enjoying a good meal in the restaurant at the end of the pier. I know you had a long return journey, hope you got home ok. Happy New Year from your new friend and follower, Amanda xx

    • Avatar Bertie says:

      Thank you. It was nice to meet you. Layla felt cold later so the money saved on dinner…..was spent on a nice warm hat and socks. You may remember she had been paddling by accident. Keep watching each week. I shall be meeting some more old bear’s soon. I fancy the piano in the cafe on a Sunday when Bobby can drive again. Bertie x

  5. Avatar katherine says:

    lovely to read about Dorking and see pictures, I lived there when I was teenager and used to get the bus in to go shopping. I remember there was an underground abatoir in the car park, I looked in once (there were small windows) and saw the pigs being ushered to another room by a man with a knife in his hand. The image is imprinted on my memory… horrible, but I have to confess I love eating pork.
    Thanks Bob for another great story… wish that woman hadn’t been so controlling!

  6. […] “Bertie… It’s my birthday. I wandered up West Street (Old Bears) and there she was. It was love at first sight. It was freezing. She looked […]

  7. Avatar Jenny Nancy's sister says:

    Usedtovisitthe record boothsho in weststreet next to the urc thatiswhere I got my love of vinyl we still have100 old eps and singles.
    There used to be one of the first coffee shops there and my sister used to work in the Milkbar next to
    The white horse hotel my mum in her 60s used to do the washing up at the old house at home in the evening for years

  8. Avatar Bertie says:

    Well of course I bought Bertie from the teddy bear shop adjacent to that former record shop. And now sadly the cafe closed too. Not sure about the latest owners in these troubled times. You used to be able to listen to records upstairs in Clears as well

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