Current Events, Special Days and Historic Anniversaries Brought to Life by Teddy Bears, Pandas and Other Cuddly Creatures
Monthly Archives: February 2013

HAPPY ST DAVID’S DAY

by Elspeth

A new month begins tomorrow.  According to Emily Dickinsion, ‘March is the month of expectation’ and The Bears in the Windows are definitely looking forward to what will be a very busy few weeks for them, full of anticipation and excitement.

The month starts off with St David’s Day, followed by Crufts and Mother’s Day and then, in quick succession, The Ides of March, Red Nose Day and St Patrick’s Day.  Then at the very end of March, there’s Easter, which falls earlier than it has for several years.

St. David’s Day, the national day of Wales, is celebrated on 1st March, the date chosen because, in 1120, it was the day on which David was canonised by Pope Callactus II, exactly 531 years after his death. 

St. David (Dewi Sant in Welsh) was a Celtic monk born in the sixth century.  Although relatively little is known about the man, some information has been gleaned from a book written in the 11th century by Rhigyfarch called Buchedd Dewi, (the Life of David).  From it we know that David reached the status of Archbishop of Wales and helped to spread Christianity amongst the pagan Celtic tribes of western Britain. 

St. David is thought to have lived a frugal life, eating mostly bread and herbs and only ever drinking water.  The best known apocryphal story about him tells how, one day, while preaching to a huge crowd, the ground rose up so that it appeared that he was standing on a hill with the result everyone had a better view of him.  When he died on 1st March 589 AD, he was buried in St. David’s Cathedral which became a place of pilgrimage throughout the Middle Ages.

Today, this special day is celebrated by Welsh people all over the world when the wearing of either a daffodil or a leek is compulsory.  It is perhaps hard to understand why the Welsh chose a rather ordinary vegetable as their national emblem.  However, although it wasn’t officially adopted until the 16th Century, the leek’s association with the Welsh can be traced back as far as 633 AD when, at the battle of Heathfield, as both sides were clad in identical chain-mail and helmets, it was impossible to tell who was friend and who was foe.  The story goes that the quick-thinking Welsh soldiers pulled some leeks from the garden of a nearby cottage and stuck them in their helmets, thus distinguishing themselves from their Saxon opponents.  This turned out to be an excellent idea as the Welsh won the battle!  In Henry V, Shakespeare mentions that the Welsh archers wore leeks at the battle of Agincourt in 1415

Other less exciting explanations include the fact that the vegetable’s green and white colours echo the ancient flag ofWalesand it’s possible that St. David himself may have included leeks in his meagre diet. 

It may come as a surprise that it’s possible the daffodil was adopted by accident. This came about because, interestingly, the Welsh for leek is cenhinen, while the Welsh for daffodil is cenhinen Pedr (Peter’s leek) and, over the years, the two became confused until, eventually the daffodil joined the leek as the second national emblem of Wales.  Whatever the reason, the daffodil is definitely most appropriate because it is at the beginning of March that the flowers begin to bloom, turning the countryside into a mass of golden yellow.  

In 1985, when it was decided that each of the four British national emblems would feature on the reverse of the £1 coin, it came as a surprise that, given the daffodil’s popularity amongst the Welsh, it was the leek and not the daffodil that was chosen for the Welsh coins.

Most of the bears who appear in the St. David’s Day windows are yellow red and green – the Welsh national colours.  One special teddy, who occasionally makes a special appearance on St. David’s Day itself was, appropriately, made by Deans, the long established Welsh teddy bear manufacturer.  This limited edition golden brown bear is rather unusual as he has an embroidered Welsh flag for a nose, with another flag stitched on one paw.  You’ll notice that, apart from Winnie the Pooh who has a leek on his hat, all The Bears in the Windows favour the daffodil as they think that leeks should only be found in leek and potato soup!    

Text and photographs © Elspeth A. Grindlay 2013

     

 


EX-TER-MIN-ATE!

by Elspeth

As my husband is a huge Dr Who fan, he persuaded me that The Bears in the Windows should pay tribute to Ray Cusick, who died four days ago, aged 84. 

I’m sure some of you will be asking: ‘Who’s Ray Cusick?’  Well, he was the man responsible for leaving a generation of children cowering behind the sofa in the 1960s by bringing to life the Daleks, the quintessentially British baddie. 

In 1963, Cusick was asked to create an alien race for the new TV show, Doctor Who.  Although the Daleks were the brainchild of screenwriter, Terry Nation, who suggested that they should glide rather like the Georgian State Dancers, it was Cusick who actually brought the villainous mutants to life.  Years later during an interview, he revealed that his eureka moment for their subsequent design – the famous domed silhouette with three protuberances, an eyestalk, a sucker arm and a gun, and distinctive spherical skirt decorations – had happened during a lunch meeting with special effects expert Bill Roberts who would ultimately be responsible for making the creatures.  After picking up a pepper pot and moving it around the table, Cusick announced to his lunch partner that this would be how his aliens would have no visible means of moving.

 

Cusick’s ‘satanic pepper pots’ proved to be such a hit amongst viewers that, fifty years after they first appeared, the Daleks live on and are still probably the Doctor’s most popular enemies, their electronic command, ‘Exterminate!’ having now entered the English language.

Jim was able to provide a large Tardis and an appropriately black Dalek for the tribute window, so all I had to come up with was a suitable ursine Doctor Who.  As William Hartnell was the first Doctor to meet the Daleks, I decided that my bear would wear a smoking jacket with a big floppy bow round his neck, like Hartnell did in the show.  Although he definitely looks a little nervous coming face to face with one of his arch-enemies, everyone knows that the Doctor always triumphs, so there’s no need for him to worry as there isn’t the remotest chance that the mean-looking Dalek is ever going to ‘EX-TER-MIN-ATE’ him!  

Text and photographs © Elspeth A. Grindlay 2013

 


AND THE WINNERS WERE………

by Elspeth

How many of the bears’ nominations did you spot?

Well, there were actually six.

 

 

On the left are Les Mis (that was really easy, wasn’t it?) and Zero Dark Thirty – I know that, perhaps, the Statue of Liberty wasn’t much of a clue for this film but, as all I know about the plot is that it was about what happened as a result of 9/11, it was the best I could do.

 

 

Then, on the right, I know you’ll all have recognised Skyfall, featuring my very own 007 bear, but I wonder if you spotted Life of Pi, represented by the little bear standing on a lifeboat which he’s sharing with a friendly looking tiger, and Beasts of the Southern World brought to life by a tiny teddy holding a fish whose diminutive size seemed just right for a film which starred this year’s youngest nominee. Finally, in this second picture is, of course, Lincoln. 

My ursine Lincoln is actually one of my favourite characters of all time because he turned out better than I could ever have hoped. Having selected a panda which I thought would best portray the eventual winner of the Best Actor Oscar, I dressed him in a waistcoat, which looks like a jacket because of the panda’s black arms.  I had thought of placing him in front of the Lincoln Memorial but, as space in the window was at a premium, I decided to seat him on his trusty steed instead.  The final stroke of genius was to make the great President’s distinctive top hat from a sheet of black cardboard, first making a cylinder shape and then cutting out a solid circle for the top and then a ring to form the brim. 

By the way, did you know that Lincoln is the only US President to hold a patent, awarded in 1849 for ’A Device for Buoying Vessels Over Shoals’?   Another record held by him is that, at 6ft 4in, he was the tallest US President with, fittingly, a hat size of 7? and shoe size of 14!

The Bears were delighted that six of their nominations triumphed on Oscar night.  They weren’t too upset that I’d absolutely no idea how to illustrate any of the other major winners, Argo, Silver Linings Playbook and Django Unchained, because I haven’t seen any of the films nor do I understand the titles! 

As James Bond might have said, the hunky bear presenting the Oscar for the winner of this year’s Best Beartress category, is dressed to kill, while the radiant winning lady, wearing a stunning Grindlay gown, is obviously over the moon at winning her very first Rupert. I think you’ll agree that the glamorous pair wouldn’t look at all out of place on the red carpet or at the Vanity Fair Oscar party, the hottest ticket in town!

Now that the excitement of the Bearscars is over for another year, The Bears in the Windows will soon be back to ‘auld claes and parritch’.  If you’re not Scottish, I wonder if you can guess what this means!  

Text and photographs © Elspeth A. Grindlay 2013


AND THE NOMINEES ARE…….

by Elspeth

With the 85th Academy Awards ceremony almost upon us, The Bears in the Windows are divided as to who will win the highest honours in film making this year.

They celebrated the Oscars, as they’re more commonly known,  for the first time two years ago although, naturally, they call them the Bearscars – the most coveted trophy in the ursine film world being a bear-shaped statuette, affectionately known as a ‘Rupert’! 

The films represented by the Bears in 2011 were ‘The King’s Speech’ (winner of 4 Oscars, including Best Actor & Best Film) ‘The Black Swan’ (Best Actress) and ‘The Social Network’ (3 Oscars) and, last year, you may have spotted The Iron Lady, War Horse and The Artist, whose canine star, Uggie should, in my opinion, have won a ‘Dogscar’!

It all began more than 80 years ago when, shortly after the formation of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1927, the fledgling organisation discussed how to honour outstanding moviemaking achievements.  And so the idea of the Academy Awards was born. 

Far from the eagerly anticipated and globally televised event it is today, the first Academy Awards ceremony took place out of the public eye at a banquet at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.  Only 270 people attended the event on 16th May 1929, each paying a mere $5 for the privilege.  Unlike today, there was absolutely no suspense when the awards were presented as the winners had been announced three months earlier!  However, this was to change the following year when the Academy decided to keep the results secret until the ceremony itself.

The 2011 Ceremony

Only three times in its long history has the Academy Awards ceremony failed to take place as planned – in 1938, when flooding in Los Angeles delayed it by a week, in 1968, when it was postponed by two days out of respect for Dr. Martin Luther King who had been assassinated shortly before the ceremony was due to take place and, in 1981, when it was postponed for twenty four hours following the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan.

Between 1929 and 2012, the Academy has presented 2,846 of its famous golden statuettes, whose official name is the Academy Award of Merit, but which are now always referred to as ‘The Oscars’.  The origins of this nickname are unclear, but legend has it that, on seeing the statue for the first time, Margaret Herrick, the Academy librarian, remarked that it resembled her Uncle Oscar, although the name wasn’t officially adopted until 1939.  Other suggestions are that it was named after Bette Davis’ first husband, Oscar or even Oscar Wilde.  Interestingly, the only person called Oscar ever to have won an Oscar was the composer Oscar Hammerstein. 

Each Oscar is 13½ inches tall and weighs 8½ pounds, the design is of a knight holding a crusader’s sword, standing on a reel of film with five spokes, representing the five original branches of the Academy – actors, directors, producers, technicians and writers.

The 2012 Ceremony

Although it’s a popular misconception that the statuettes are made of gold, this has never been the case.  For the first few years, they were gold-plated bronze and, within a few years, the bronze was replaced with Britannia metal, a pewter-like alloy, which was then plated with 24-carat gold.  For three years during the war in order to conserve metal, the Oscars were made of painted plaster which the recipients could exchange for the shiny gold versions after the war.  However, even though they aren’t made of gold, the statuettes are still literally priceless as winners are now required to sign a contract promising never to sell them.

Some winners have received Oscars with a difference.  Up until 1950, children received miniature statuettes and, when ventriloquist Edger Bergen was awarded an honorary Oscar in 1938, he received a wooden statue with a movable mouth!  When Walt Disney was given an honorary Oscar for Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in 1939, he received one full-sized statuette and seven miniature ones!  Disney holds the record for the most Oscar nominations, winning 26 out of a possible 64. 

To date, the youngest Oscar winner, is Tatum O’Neal who, aged ten, won Best Supporting Actress in 1974 for her performance in Paper Moon (Shirley Temple’s Oscar, won at the age of five, was an honorary one) and the oldest, Jessica Tandy who, aged 80, won Best Actress in 1989 for the poignant Driving Miss Daisy.  One of these records could, however, be beaten this year with nine year-old Quvenzhané Wallis vying with 85 year-old Emmanuelle Riva in the Best Actress category.  Only three films have ever won all top five Oscars – It Happened One Night, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The Silence of the Lambs.  The most Oscars won by a single film is 11 which has happened three times with Ben Hur, Titanic and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the Rings.

The kudos that goes with winning an Oscar is obviously what all nominees aspire to, but just to be nominated does have its perks.  One thing female nominees don’t have to worry about is what to wear as, in the week leading up to Oscar night, top couturiers and jewellers from around the world flood into LA, offering nominees up to £60,000 just to wear creations!  

Though officially banned in 2007, all nominees still receive unofficial goody bags worth around £30,000, with this year’s gifts including a £1,000 Hitchcock director’s chair, aromatherapy treatments, a personal trainer, tequila, trips to Mexico, Hawaii and Australia and the most bizarre, a ‘vampire facial’!   Although The Bears in the Windows’ bag contained all sorts of luxury goodies like a diamond bracelet, a crystal ball, a retro camera, a Lalique panda and a Limited Edition Steiff teddy (specially selected for the youngest nominee, Quvenzhané Wallis), their favourite gift was a lifetime’s supply of their favourite honey!   

Finally, of course, there’s the Governor’s Ball, where celebrity chef  Wolfgang Puck and 1,000 staff will feed 1,600 stars 1,200lb of lobster, 1,250lb of crab claws, salmon, chicken pot pie, mini cheeseburgers, lamb chops, gourmet pizzas and 30lb of edible gold dust covering 500lb of chocolate Oscars and the lavish parties hosted by Vanity Fair, Elton John and all the major film studios. 

Here are the bears’ nominations for this year:

How many do you recognise? All will be revealed after the results are announced on Sunday evening.

Text and photographs © Elspeth A. Grindlay 2013


THE BEARS TAKE TO THE CATWALK!

by Elspeth

At this time of year, some of The Bears in the Windows have the chance to dress up for their adoring public to celebrate London Fashion Week.  The event is staged twice a year – in February, when the latest styles in clothing, footwear and accessories for the winter are showcased and in September, when fashionistas look forward to seeing what they’ll be wearing the following spring and summer.  However, it’s not just the best of women’s fashion that’s promoted during London Fashion Week as menswear is now in its 7th year.

According to a recent survey, an astonishing 75% of British women are more likely to shop for clothes, bags and accessories in their free time than they are to read, listen to music, play sport, exercise, do DIY, use the internet, play games or do art and craft activities!  If this is true, it’s not surprising that London Fashion Week is now one of the biggest events of its kind in the world.  The UK fashion industry directly employs 816,000 people across a wide range of jobs, making it the 15th largest industry (out of 81) in theUK, similar in size to the food and beverages services.  Each year, it contributes £21 billion to the British economy, £100 million of which comes from orders placed during London Fashion Week.

Every year, established names display their latest designs and there’s also plenty of exciting new talent trying hard to gain the fame and the attention needed to become the next big thing in the fashion world. London is well known for its edgy, futuristic designs and, at Fashion Week, this is very much in evidence.  More than 100 different events are held during the week and it’s amazing that something that started out as a trade show has become as important an event in the fashion world as the Oscars are for the film industry.

Given London’s current high ranking in the world of fashion, it’s hard to believe that, only seventy years ago, the British had a reputation for their poor dress sense.  This was partly caused by clothes rationing, introduced in 1941 as a way of freeing up some of the 450,000 workers employed in the clothing industry for essential war work elsewhere.  People were also asked to ‘make do and mend’, being made to believe that it was almost their patriotic duty to dress shabbily.  This was in complete contrast to what happened in occupied countries like France when to look one’s best was almost an act of defiance and, in Germany itself, where clothes rationing wasn’t adopted until much later.  In 1942, a further blow was dealt to Britain’s reputation with the introduction of Utility clothing.  Expressly designed to economise on raw materials, the look of these garments was of secondary importance and, as the result of the government’s diktat, pleats and flounces were out, hemlines were raised and double-breasted coats banned.

In recent years, some people have attributed the ‘Kate effect’ – that is the world’s obsession with what the Duchess of Cambridge is wearing – to some degree being responsible for improving Britain’s sartorial standing on the catwalks of the world.  The effect she has had on clothing sales has actually become a weapon in the battle between the rivalry that exists between New York and London to be the fashion capital of the world.  Despite consumer gloom on the high street, a survey found that London had finally triumphed in 2011, the loss of New York’s crown resulting in America’s fashion press giving the once much fêted Duchess a very hostile reception, describing her as ‘ordinary’ and ‘nothing special’.

Milan Fashion Week

Although women have always wanted to look good, for more and more, the label they’re wearing is now more important than how an outfit looks.  This changed when you could ask what someone was wearing and it was no longer enough to say, as Boris Johnson did at the start of London Fashion Week two years ago, ‘a suit’.  Seemingly, what matters now is not whether an outfit looks stunning, but whether people know the suit is by Prada, the raincoat by Burberry, the handbag by Mulberry and the shoes by Choo.  For those of us who didn’t live through the war, it’s hard to understand just how precious clothing was in those days and perhaps it’s time we realised that having the latest designer dress, handbag or shoes is not really important in the scheme of things.

Each year, the fashion circus starts off in New York before moving across the Atlantic to London, Milan and finally to Paris which many believe to be the most fashionable city in the world.  This, however, has not been my experience as, with a very few exceptions, all the women I’ve seen during my many visits to Paris haven’t looked any different from those in any town or city in this country.  

Paris Fashion Week

Two years ago, London Fashion Week was a first for The Bears in the Windows when I did my best to dress three willowy bears in fashionable evening wear.  (It’s amazing what you can do with a scarf, sparkly wrapping paper or the sleeve from an unwanted jacket!)  In fact, they had such a good time in February, they decided they’d like to do it all again in September which was a bit of a headache as it meant I had to design another three outfits!

This year, the pandas were naturally delighted that black and white was all the rage in New York this season. However, the bears were rather perturbed when they learned that coats and jackets made from real teddy bear fur, supplied by the famed teddy bear manufacturer Steiff, were one of the hits at Paris Fashion Week. And so I had to reassure them that no bears had been harmed in the making of the fluffy fabric fashion!

Bearberry’s head designer, Patch the Panda, was in the audience in London to see how the fashion critics greeted his creations but, despite the fact I thought the bears looked really amazing, I don’t expect his designs will be seen on the catwalk any day soon! 

Text and photographs © Elspeth A. Grindlay 2013


‘LOVE IS IN THE BEAR!’

by Elspeth

 

Every year, on 14th February, we exchange cards, flowers, chocolates and often teddy bears in the name of Saint Valentine.  However, strangely enough, Valentine’s Day actually has its origins in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, which wasn’t the least bit romantic.  On the day before the festival began (14th February), the young women would write their names on slips of paper and the young men would take it in turns to draw the name of the person who would be their sweetheart for the next year, which meant it was like a raffle with women as the prizes!

The romantic side of Valentine’s Day began in 269 AD, when a priest called Valentine defied the Emperor Claudius II, who had outlawed marriage for young men believing that single men made better soldiers, by continuing to marry young couples.  While in prison, Valentine fell in love with his jailor’s daughter and, on the eve of his execution on 14th February, he sent her a note signed ‘From your Valentine’.  When the early Christian church abolished all pagan festivals, Lupercalia was replaced with a day to honour Valentine who, in 496 AD, became the patron saint of lovers.

Each year, my husband and I try to celebrate our wedding anniversary, which falls the week before Valentine’s Day, with a city break and, amongst the more exciting places we’ve visited over the last 17 years, have been Madrid, Washington, Paris, Amsterdam and New York where we spent our sixth anniversary in 2002.

Say It With Tulips!

Thanks to the popularity of films like ‘A Night To Remember’ and ‘Sleepless in Seattle’, it’s claimed that the word ‘love’ is spoken at the top of the Empire State Building over three million times every year!  On Valentine’s Day, 100 lucky couples are married on the Observatory floor and, that evening, the tower’s lights (which are usually white) turn red to mark the most romantic day of the year. 

Jim and I decided that the iconic building was the perfect location to visit on our wedding anniversary and travelled there in style in a horse-drawn carriage.  However, the journey was by far the most romantic part of the evening as, although the views of Manhattan’s fantastic skyline were breathtaking, we didn’t find the viewing platform itself at all romantic!  All was not lost, though, as Jim bought me a cute little Empire State Building teddy as a memento of our visit!

Happy Valentine's Day 

Although, for us, New York was perhaps not quite as romantic a destination as Paris, Rome or Venice, love was definitely all around.  From the windows of our room on the 40th floor, we could see the Love sculpture which stands on the corner of 6th Avenue and 55th Street.  This all-year-round monument to love was a much photographed spot and I even managed to persuade one of my bears to venture out of our hotel room into the bitter cold and snow to have his photograph taken.  I must admit we had a few strange looks from the passers-by!  The stores were full of cuddly teddies – some dressed in sweaters bearing loving messages and others decorated with red hearts or flowers.  There were even bears holding bags of chocolate kisses, just perfect for chocoholic arctophiles!  Many stores also had teddy-themed Valentine displays like FAO Schwarz where ‘love was in the air.’  However, despite the obvious popularity of Valentine’s Day in America, it’s the British who send more cards than any other country.

This year, we celebrated our wedding anniversary in Paris where, from our hotel room on the 23rd floor, we had the most amazing view of the Eiffel Tower. The Bears in the Windows enjoyed hearing about our romantic break so much that they decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day by going to the Eiffel Tower as countless couples do.  If you happen to be passing the windows after dark today, you’ll find that their tower will be twinkling just like the real thing.

The Bears in the Windows are real romantics and, believe it or not, have received Valentines from a secret admirer who eventually revealed himself as Billy Bear!  Giving someone a teddy bear is the perfect way to show how much you care as, when the chocolate box is empty, the champagne has lost its fizz and the red roses have wilted, a teddy will be a permanent huggable reminder of how you feel! 

Text and photographs © Elspeth A. Grindlay 2013

 

 

 


CELEBRATING THE YEAR OF THE SNAKE

by Elspeth

For the Chinese, the most important festival of the year, celebrated in China itself and amongst Chinese communities all over the world, is the Chinese New Year – a time of feasting, fireworks and gift-giving lasting for 15 days. 

The Chinese calendar is based on the lunar year which means that the New Year, celebrated on the second new moon of the winter solstice, is not a fixed date and can fall any time from late January to mid-February.  Each year is named after an animal – 2013 is the Year of the Snake.  The other animals honoured by the Chinese in this way are the rat, the ox, the tiger, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the goat, the monkey, the rooster, the dog and the pig.  (You’ll probably have noticed that, although the animal most associated with China is the giant panda, rather surprisingly, the enigmatic creature is missing from the list.)  Interestingly, the Chinese believe that people take on the characteristics of the animal in whose year they are born.  I wonder if you would agree with this!  For example, if you were born in the Year of the Rabbit (1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999 and 2011), you will be graceful, polite and cautious, have great big ears and love carrots, whereas if you were born in the Year of the Dog (1922, 1934, 1948, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994 and 2006), you will be honest, friendly and faithful, have a wet nose and a waggy tail! 

In the days leading up to New Year’s Day, it’s traditional for people to clean their houses, repay debts, buy new clothes (particularly red as it’s thought to be a lucky colour), and have their hair cut.  On New Year’s Eve, a celebratory meal with close family takes place in houses decked with coloured paper lanterns and other decorations, groups of lion dancers, accompanied by drums, gongs and cymbals to scare away evil spirits, pass through the streets, bringing good luck to all the households they visit and the old year goes out with a bang as thousands of firecrackers are let off.  Early on New Year’s Day, parents and grandparents give the children lucky red packets called ‘Hong Bao’, containing sweets or money and it’s considered rude to open an envelope in front of the person who gave it to you. 

Naturally, as China is home to the giant panda, the cuddly black and white bears always play an important part in my Chinese New Year windows.  This year, two windows were packed with lanterns, drums, dragons and assorted pandas dressed in traditional Chinese costume, as The Bears in the Windows prepared to welcome the New Year with a celebratory family meal when I’m sure bamboo would be on the menu!

Text and photographs © Elspeth A. Grindlay 2013


A BRAND NEW YEAR

by Elspeth

I can’t believe that it’s more than a month since we welcomed in a new year.  Those of you who visit The Bears in the Windows regularly will know that, as well as the days that come round every year like Burns’ Night and Australia Day, there were also some historic anniversaries for them to celebrate in January like the 150th anniversary of the London Underground and the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Of course, there was also the Inauguration of the President of the United States of America – an event that takes place in front of the awe-inspiring Capitol every four years.

Some windows take more time to plan than others and I’m particlularly delighted when, having visualised what I want to create, everything comes together perfectly. This happened twice last month.

The first time was with the 150th anniversary of the London Underground window when I used an unusual photo of some ‘pandas’ standing on an Underground platform, taken during Panda Awareness Week, to create the backgound for a diorama of a typical day in London’s Underground. The scene showed some bears awaiting the arrival of their train (courtesy of my husband), with a little rat closely watching their every move!

The second time was with the window celebrating the Inauguration of ‘Bearack Obama’ when I used one of my many photos of Washington’s majestic Capitol to create the backdrop for the swearing in of America’s President. I remember the day I took the photo when I’d watched the iconic building changing from white through various shades of pink until, finally, it was like a giant lantern lighting up the night sky. The completed window featured an abundance of stars and stripes and patriotic red, white and blue bears, a Presidential podium on which lay two tiny bibles, representing the ones on which President Obama took the Presidential oath (one belonging to President Lincoln and the other to Martin Luther King) and, of course, ‘Bearack Obama’ and the First Family, including Bo, America’s First Dog.

‘Robeart Burns, a charming green bear dressed in a tweed jacket and velvet breeches, was the centrepiece of the Bears’ tribute to Robert Burns, with others representing some of the poet’s most famous works. How many did you manage to spot? Once again, a panda, in full highland dress, gave the Address to the Haggis at The Bears in the Windows’ annual Burns Supper. However, there very nearly wasn’t a table for the haggis to sit on as, having made one from polystyrene using four of my dog’s Jumbones for legs (hours spent watching Blue Peter as a child wasn’t wasted on me!), I made the mistake of leaving the room, only to return a few minutes later to find my hooligan Labrador chewing one of the legs!

With the Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day almost upon us, red is the predominant colour in all four windows at the moment. Mardi Gras comes next and, with the Oscars following later in the month, I’m already racking my brains to come up with ways the Bears can recreate some of the nominations.

I do hope that, whether you’ve actually seen The Bears in the Windows in the fur or whether you can only manage a virtual visit, you’ll take the time to leave a comment – perhaps to say which window is your favourite or to make a suggestion for the future. Whatever you want to say, the Bears and I would love to hear it. Do remember to keep watching The Bears in the Windows as you just never know what they’ll be getting up to next!

 Text and photographs © Elspeth A. Grindlay 2013


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