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bear

- ursine mammalian quadruped
- ursine stuffed toy
- ursine mammalian biped (male)
B/002

As for four-footed bears, no strong feelings – never met one. Favourite fictional bear has to be Bubba from Peter Dickinson's The Dancing Bear, and least favourite fictional bear has to be the one that trees Gerard and Denys in Charles Read's The Cloister and the Hearth. A bear-skin features meaningfully in Elinor Glynn's Nine Weeks.

As for teddy-bears, how can anyone achieve a reasonably balanced adulthood without one? Mine, known imaginatively as Teddy, was a present from my favourite aunt on my first birthday and is now in need of careful and restorative attention; forty-three years ago, after all. Friends have recommended a restorer in Sheffield, and one of these days I should be brave and send him away.

As for other bears ... well, the third type is a solid, furry man; opinions differ on how important the fur actually is, but it certainly matters to me. I might qualify, I think; I've never set out to look for a pack, but a week in the US – a more aware habitat than Belgium – netted me a number of smiles and nods I incline to take as approval. Bien dans leur peau, as the French so neatly say, bears have nothing to prove. Things might have been easier if examples like this – they don't try to present themselves as role-models – had been available when I was trying to come to terms with my feelings.

Ah well. It took me a long time, I made a few mistakes along the way and know I hurt a few people: but now I have come to feel fairly bien dans ma peau myself.


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