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Paddington Here and Now

Paddington Here and Now by Michael Bond
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Paddington has warmed the hearts of generations of readers with his earnest good intentions and humorous misadventures. This edition of the classic novel contains the original text by Michael Bond and illustrations by R.W. Alley.

If Paddington Bear learned anything from his Uncle Pastuzo, it’s that home is where you hang your hat. And for Paddington, nothing feels quite like home than being with the Brown family. Whether Paddington is starring in a surprise concert performance while eating a marmalade sandwich or thwarting a burglary attempt from Gentleman Dan, the Drainpipe Man, this one-of-a-kind bear keeps the Brown family home full of adventure and laughter.

First published in 2008, Paddington Here and Now is the twelfth classic novel about Michael Bond’s beloved classic character, Paddington Bear.

HarperCollins; June 2009
176 pages; ISBN 9780061947711
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Title: Paddington Here and Now
Author: Michael Bond; R. W. Alley

Chapter One

Parking Problems

"My shopping basket on wheels has been towed away!" exclaimed Paddington hotly.

He gazed at the spot where he had left it before going into the cut-price grocer's in the Portobello Market. In all the years he had lived in London such a thing had never happened to him before, and he could hardly believe his eyes. But if he thought staring at the empty space was going to make it reappear, he was doomed to disappointment.

"It's coming to something if a young bear gent can't leave 'is shopping basket unattended for five minutes while 'e's going about 'is business," said one of the stall holders who normally supplied Paddington with vegetables when he was out shopping for the Brown family. "I don't know what the world's coming to."

"There's no give and take anymore," agreed a man at the next stall. "It's all take and no give. They'll be towing us away next, you mark my words."

"You should have left a note on it saying 'Back in five minutes,'" said a third one.

"Fat lot of good that would have done," said another. "They don't give you five seconds these days, let alone five minutes."

Paddington was a popular figure in the market, and by now a small crowd of sympathizers had begun to gather. Although he was known to drive a hard bargain, he was much respected by the traders. Receiving his business was regarded by many as being something of an honor—on a par with having a sign saying they were by appointment to a member of the royal family.

"The foreman of the truck said it was in the way of his vehicle," said a lady who had witnessed the event. "They were trying to get behind a car they wanted to tow away."

"But my buns were in it," said Paddington.

"'Were' is probably the right word," replied the lady. "I daresay even now they're parked in some side street or other wolfing them down. Driving those great big tow-away trucks of theirs must give them an appetite."

"I don't know what Mr. Gruber is going to say when he hears," said Paddington. "They were meant for our elevenses."

"Look on the bright side," said another lady. "At least you've still got your suitcase with you. The basket could have been clamped. That would have cost you eighty pounds to get it undone."

"And you would have to hang about half the day before they got around to doing it," agreed another.

Paddington's face grew longer and longer as he listened to all the words of wisdom. "Eighty pounds!" he exclaimed. "But I only went in for Mrs. Bird's bottled water!"

"You can buy a new basket on wheels in the market for ten pounds," chimed in another stall holder.

"I daresay if you haggle a bit you could get one for a lot less," said another.

"But I've only got ten pence," said Paddington sadly. "Besides, I wouldn't want a new one. Mr. Brown gave mine to me soon after I arrived. I've had it ever since."

"Quite right!" agreed an onlooker. "You stick to your guns. They don't come like that these days. Them new ones is all plastic. Don't last five minutes."

"If you ask me," said a lady who ran a knickknacks stall, "it's a pity it didn't get clamped. My Sid would have lent you his hacksaw like a shot. He doesn't hold with that kind of thing."

"Pity you weren't here in person when they did it," said another stall holder. "You would have been able to lie down in the road in front of their truck as a protest. Then we could have phoned the local press to send over one of their photographers, and it would have been in all the papers."

"That would have stopped the lorry in its tracks," agreed someone else from the back of the crowd.

Paddington eyed the man doubtfully. "Supposing it didn't?" he said.

"In that case you would have been on the evening news," said the man. "Television would have had a field day interviewing all the witnesses."

"You'd have become what they call a martyr," agreed the first man. "I daresay in years to come they would have erected a statue in your honor. Then nobody would have been able to park."

"What you need," said the fruit-and-vegetable man, summing up the whole situation, "is a good lawyer. Someone like Sir Bernard Crumble. He lives just up the road. This kind of thing is just up his street. He's a great one for sticking up for the underdog—" He broke off as he caught Paddington's eye. "Well, I daresay he does underbears as well. He'd have their guts for garters. Never been known to lose a case yet."

"Which street does he live in?" asked Paddington hopefully.

"I shouldn't get ideas above your station," warned another trader, "if you'll pardon the pun. They do say 'e charges an arm and a leg just to open 'is front door to the postman."

"If I were you," said a passerby, "before you do anything else, I suggest you go along to the police station and report the matter to them. I daresay they'll be able to arrange counseling for you."

"Whatever you do," advised one of the stall holders, "don't tell them you've been towed away. Be what they call noncommittal. Just say your vehicle has gone missing."

He gazed at the large pack of bottled water Paddington had bought at the grocer's. "You can leave those with me. I'll make sure they don't come to any harm."

Paddington thanked the man for his kind offer and, after waving good-bye to the crowd, set off at a brisk pace toward the nearest police station.

But as he turned a corner and a familiar blue lamp came into view, he began to slow down. Over the years he had met a number of policemen, and he had always found them only too ready to help in times of trouble. There was the occasion when he'd mistaken a television repairman for a burglar, and another time when he had bought some oil shares from a man in the market and they had turned out to be duds.

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