EPISODE 15A: BEAR
The Teddy Bear is a fixture in the hearts and minds of children everywhere. If you didn’t have one growing up, you certainly knew someone that did.
These stuffed toys are often looked upon with fondness, and can trigger all sorts of happy memories……..most of the time that is……
Teddy Bears can unfortunately also be the root of sadness and childhood trauma, and perhaps even be the the cause of a few scares………..
Winnie the Pooh is by far the most famous teddy bear in history.
These immensely popular children’s stories captured the imaginations of children and parents alike………but………what is the real tale behind the boy and his menagerie of animal friends?
This tale begins with the author of course.
Alan Alexander Milne was born on January 18th, 1882 in London to a private school headmaster and his wife.
And while a literary influence was present in Alan’s early life, one of his teachers was actually HG Wells, he ended up pursuing a career in mathematics, and later attended Cambridge on a scholarship.
It’s here at Cambridge, where Alan was bitten by the literary bug.
He began editing for Granta magazine, a school publication, while finishing his degree.
After school he returned to his birth place of London to pursue writing full time.
In 1906 Alan joined another magazine called Punch, where he found his voice as a humorist and essay writer.
Shortly after getting married, the new husband who was actually a life long pacifist, joined the military and was briefly stationed in France, but fell ill and was later discharged.
After the war, he turned his attention to writing plays and created a few successful comedies, before finding a new passion: writing poems for his young son Christopher Robin.
Christopher Robin was born to Alan and Dorothy (who also went by Daphne) on August 21st, 1920.
The young boy was enthralled with his collection of stuffed animals. They provided comfort and distraction away from his socialite mother and emotionally distant father.
There was Eeyore, Piglet, Kanga, Tigger and of course, their ring leader was the soft brown teddy bear named Edward.
Specific details about how Ewdward became Winnie the Pooh are a bit fuzzy, as conflicting accounts exist, but the most agreed upon version is that Alan renamed his son’s teddy Winnie, after a black bear who was a mascot for the Canadian Winnipeg regiment during the war.
It is just as likely that when father and son went to the London Zoo to see Winnie (where she lived post war), the boy began calling Edward by Winnie himself.
The Pooh part of his name, actually comes from another toy Swan of Christopher’s called Pooh.
Writer’s, especially of the fiction variety, tend to combine multiple elements of a person or thing into one character or idea, so I am of the personal belief that it was Alan who indeed changed Edward’s name.
Needless to say, the four original Winnie the Pooh books exploded in popularity, and the young family was changed forever.
While the money and notoriety surely benefitted Alan and Dorothy, the brunt of the criticism and mockery fell on young Christopher Robin.
He was quite open in his lifetime about his youth and the bullying that plagued him in his school years.
He later came to loathe the stories and poems written about him, often referring to the poem Vespers as a particular source of shame.
“It is the one work that has brought me over the years more toe-curling, fist-clenching, lip-biting embarrassment than any other,” he wrote in his biography The Enchanted Place.
Christopher sadly never really regained his love for Winnie while still in his youth. The bullying had proven to intense and changed him forever.
When he failed to find a job or live up to the success of his father, he blamed Alan for this as well saying,
“my father had got where he was by climbing on my infant shoulders, he had filched from me my good name and had left me with nothing but the empty fame of being his son."
The divide between son and parents grew bigger when Christopher fell in love with his first cousin Lesley.
Lesley’s father and Christopher’s mother had been estranged for years, and to her it felt as though her only son had betrayed her.
The young couple went on to get married and have a daughter named Clare, after cutting ties with their parents.
Many years later, Christopher and Alan reconciled, but their relationship was still somewhat strained.
His relationship with his mother was never fixed and even on her death bed she refused to see him.
For a child who only ever wanted to feel love from his parents outside of a storybook, this must’ve been a hard pill to swallow.
Before his death in 1996, Christopher Robin seemed to have made some sort of peace with his best friend Pooh, but no matter how much Christopher had distanced himself from his namesake, he will always be left with these few lines as his legacy:
“So they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing."
Despite the sad backstory to Winnie the Pooh, it is safe to say that he has been a positive fixture for other children all over the world for years and will continue to do so for many to come. That had to have brought Christopher Robin some relief in his later years.
Like I mentioned at the top of the episode, a Teddy Bear can also bring terror, illness and community upset.
That is exactly what happened when one called Mr. Ted, stayed overnight with a group of people at the famously haunted Bolsover Castle.
Despite there being a lot of information about this strange Teddy, it all talks specifically about this one encounter, which of course does not lend much credibility to his paranormal history.
One such article says that Mr. Ted is owned by a psychic medium named Debbie Davis.
Unfortunately the Instagram I believe belongs to her, has no trace of the infamous bear, so I can’t find any more information from the source.
So, Deborah says that she has been the owner of Mr. Ted for a few years and that he is definitely possessed by someone, or something.
How he came to be in her care I do not know, but it is quite common for mediums or people in the paranormal field to become guardians of haunted objects nobody else wants.
One of the only photos available of him show him sitting in a glass case surrounded by chains, but I have yet to confirm whether that is really him in the pictures.
A lot of misinformation has been spread about Ted by a famous Tiktoker so separating fact from fiction has proven difficult.
So what makes Mr. Ted creepy?
Well he is said to make people extremely unwell and nauseous, and others claim to hear him growling.
In fact, he doesn’t seem to like anybody at all, including Deborah.
A British TV station decided to test out Mr. Ted and brought him to the castle I mentioned earlier.
They then found some volunteers to stay overnight with him with cameras pointed at them for the duration.
Set up in a different room was a paranormal expert named Jo Lockwood, who would help sort general nighttime activity from haunted strangeness.
At around 3am, famously called the Witching Hour, all the cameras seemed to mysteriously lose their connection.
Shortly thereafter, one of the lead producers came down with a debilitating stomach illness of some sort and was rushed to the ER.
Luckily they recovered and it was not life threatening, perhaps just unnerving.
The group of volunteers decided to try and communicate with Ted using a spirit box.
For those of you who don’t know, a spirit box is a small radio that scans the AM frequency at high speeds. Voices and words can be heard speaking through it, and if they remain consistent in tone and pitch over a few channels, it is likely you’ve picked up a spirit using the energy of the radio to communicate.
When the group asked out loud for the Mr. Ted to show himself (whatever that means), it replied in a loud voice “Leave.”
Since the investigation and news story, Deborah says she buried Mr. Ted in an undisclosed location 30 miles from her house…..where he can’t bother anyone again.
In my professional opinion, that’s how you start a chain reaction of events that become a horror movie twenty years down the line…but hey, what do I know?
Whether the possessed teddy bear exists or not, my main problem with this investigation is that they brought him to a known haunted location in order to get proof.
Bolsover Castle is not only spectacular from an architectural standpoint, it also has consistent reports of paranormal activity spanning decades.
It is likely that the voice heard on the spirit box, was that of one of its resident ghosts, in which there are many.
From an objective standpoint, that is no way to test the validity of a haunted object.
While Mr. Ted may not be who you want to spend much time with, there are any number of supposedly haunted Teddy’s listed on Ebay who might strike your fancy.
One such doll claims to be possessed by the spirit of a ten year old girl named Sarah.
The seller goes on to state that Sarah bear was owned by a parapsychologist and investigator who had recently passed.
Sarah had supposedly gone missing from a playground a few years prior, and has never been found.
I think the record should reflect here that I tried looking into the case, and got nowhere.
Sarah’s mother said one day the bear began making what she described as a “white noise.”
When the mother got sick, she passed Sarah Bear along to the collector.
The listing states that the bear seems to ramp up activity on April 28th, the mysterious missing girls birthday.
While it makes a great story, I don’t believe this one is true.
That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in haunted objects, I most certainly do…….especially ones that evoke such strong feelings in us.
One thing is for certain though, Teddy Bears remain a childhood staple, and the overwhelming majority of them bring comfort in times of need.
In fact, when a child dies a large portion of parents opt to get a Teddy Bear headstone for their son or daughter…a gentle symbolic send off into the afterlife.
This has been the Memento Mori Oracle Podcast with me, your host, Claire Goodchild. Find out more about the Memento Mori Oracle deck at blackandthemoon.com
See you next time!