Paddington Goes to Town

For our December “Reading and Refreshments,” we decided to read yet another Paddington book: Paddington Goes to Town, due to the emphasis on the Christmas holidays—it seemed very appropriate for this festive season.

“Look,” said [Mrs. Brown], pointing ahead. “There’s the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square. If we hurry we may be in time for the carols.”

Mr. Brown gave a sniff. “I’ll tell you something else,” he said. “I can smell hot chestnuts.”

Paddington licked his lips. Although it wasn’t long since he’d had his tea all the excitement was beginning to make him feel hungry again. “Hot chestnuts, Mr. Brown,” he exclaimed with interest. “I don’t think I’ve ever had any of those before.”

The Browns stopped in their track, and for the second time that day stared at Paddington in amazement.

“You’ve never had any hot chestnuts?” repeated Mr. Brown.

Paddington shook his head. “Never,” he said firmly.

“Well, we can soon alter that,” said Mr. Brown, leading the way towards a coke brazier at the side of the road. “Seven large bags, please,” he announced to the man who was serving.

“What a good thing I brought my camera,” exclaimed Mr. Gruber. “Two firsts in one evening,” he continued, as he set up his tripod. “The decorations and now this.”

Paddington Goes to Town

Of course you could trust Paddington to get into a scrape when taken into a big city like London to see the Christmas lights, but there is plenty of Christmas hilarity right around 32 Windsor Gardens as well.

Such as the carol singing in order to raise money for the Children’s Hospital:

“One and fourpence ha’penny,” said Jonathan bitterly, as he shone his torch into the cardboard box which they’d been suing for the takings. “A measly one and fourpence ha’penny.”

“It’s not too bad,” said Judy, “considering only six people have answered the door.”

“They can’t have all been out,” said Jonathan. “I wish we’d started our school holidays earlier. The trouble is everyone’s getting fed up by now. I reckon we’ve left it a bit late.”

“Perhaps we could say we’re collecting for next Christmas,” said Paddington hopefully.

Paddington Goes to Town

And then there’s the mix-up when Paddington gets mistaken for a waiter and ends up serving dinner at Mrs. Smith-Cholmley’s Christmas party:

“Talking of paws,” said the man Paddington had been standing behind, “you’ve got one of yours in my soup.”

“Oh, that’s all right,” said Paddington politely. “It isn’t very hot.”

The man eyed the bowl distastefully. “May I give you a tip?” he asked.

“Oh, yes please,” said Paddington eagerly. Now that he was getting used to the idea of being a waiter he was beginning to enjoy himself and after giving his paw a hasty lick in order to remove some soup which had accidently overflowed he held it out hopefully.

“Don’t carry quite so much next time,” said the man sternly . . .

Paddington Goes to Town

But we don’t suggest trying Paddington’s Christmas dessert as your refreshment this month . . .

Mr. Brown stared at Paddington as if he could hardly believe his eyes. “Do you mean to say,” he exclaimed, “that you actually served this Mrs. Smith-Cholmley baked elastic?”

Paddington nodded unhappily. “I found some rubber bands in a tin, Mr. Brown,” he explained.

“He didn’t realize Mrs. Smith-Cholmley said ‘Baked Alaska’,” said Judy.

Paddington Goes to Town

Roasted chestnuts sound like a much better idea! And have two servings, as Paddington himself would suggest . . .

“Are you having trouble with your exposures, Mr. Gruber?” he asked hopefully, as he came to the end of his chestnuts.

Mr. Gruber looked up in some surprise. “I only wondered,” said Paddington hastily, eyeing the brazier before his friend had time to reply, “because if you are I thought perhaps you’d like me to have another bag just to make sure!”

Paddington Goes to Town

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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