Tuesday 2 July 2019


Hi everyone - I'm Peter Ted. I'm a revolutionary. A veteran survivor of the Siege of Petergrad. Perhaps the only one. Mum's the word on that. Incidentally, I'm a bit of an academic bear too. Strictly autodidact - you see I never went to Oxford. My Rob left me behind when he buggered off there on his Leathersellers' Scholarship. How many of my fellow animal creatures sacrificed their skins to pay for his higher education? Not that I hold grudges. I've done very nicely, thank you very much. I bet you didn't know that the phrase 'Mum's the word' has its origin in late Middle English: imitative of a sound made with closed lips. You don't need to have spent three years at an Oxford college to be well-educated. Trust me, I've been around the block a few times. Here's a picture of me in my prime when I first came into Rob's world to look after him - after my wounds in mind and body had healed, in the aftermath of that terrible Siege.

Me, Rob, and his Mum - Lewisham - c.1952

Now, it's quite possible that some of you may not have read my first post in cyberspace that I published on the 7th of November, 2016. How time flies! Not like in those unspeakable siege years. So here's the link to my sensational arrival in the blogsphere:


Did you enjoy that? Silly question, of course. When you're reading the ursine counterpart to Joyce,

Eliot and Roth, all rolled into one, who wouldn't treasure? Stop glowering at me, Sally Ann - you stupid grey bear!

Time I think for the story of last weekend.

As I have said - many times - I got left behind. Aloysius, however, was not abandoned by his human, Lord Sebastian Flyte. That contrast hurts. You can read the whole story in this book by a chap called Evelyn Waugh. It's quite a good read, although Sebastian turns out to be a bit of a loser by the end. He must have stopped listening to the wisdom of Aloysius. Now that's where Rob got it right. Once he realised his big mistake and rescued me from the cupboard in Welling, all was well and has stayed well ever since. Sally Ann, Louise's bear, was of course icing on the cake. Sugar and spice and all things nice. A bit too lah-di-dah, methinks - at times. But I'd better keep quiet on that subject. Her left hook is a remarkable weapon in the armoury of feminism!

Peter Ted and Sally Ann - c.2014

When I knew that Rob had his 2019 St Catherine's College, Oxford Gaudy invite, I had some serious words with him on the quiet and before long he was telling Louise that he had had this brilliant idea. He would take me with him to Oxford and I could spend time in his college room and if anyone came in he would introduce me to them. He remembered his lines rather well considering he's getting on a bit now. It was of course all my idea! But then I'm the brains around here - the ultimate sine qua non.

And so it came to pass.

In the end, I was rather disappointed. Nobody came to visit and so I missed out on being introduced to all the very interesting people he met in the space of the day we spent together in Catz, as it is affectionately called by the cognoscenti . But at least they can read me here which is a kind of introduction and maybe in the future we can have a proper shaking of paws. And did he meet some interesting humans! Do you know, there was one guy there who had been in his year and reading modern history like him whom he hadn't seen for half-a-century! That's almost as far back as the Siege of Petergrad - well not quite, but it is an awfully long time. This chap had gone off after getting his degree and got married and then less than a year later was confined in a Turkish jail after being arrested for distributing copies of the Christian Bible. Bishop Bill, he's called now - the Right Reverend Doctor Bishop Bill. When Rob told me the story, I said that's so cool - becoming a jail-bird less than a year after Finals. But Rob said I should show more respect and recognise these were matters of faith and all to do with having a relationship with God. I thought that was very interesting since I have sometimes wondered why I've been blessed with my omniscience and omnipotence.

Rob, Bill, David, and Ian - I, Peter Ted, slipped off to the Turf Tavern for a quick pint before the dinner. 

This picture above is of the very nice Doctor Bishop Bill with Rob as they waited to enter the great Dining Hall for their Gaudy dinner. It was taken by the delightful Hilary who is the wife of Bill and the mother of their four children. They have five grandchildren. There must be lots of teddy-bears in their houses!  

So who are the other two alumni? (Rob's told me that 'alumni' is the fancy name for OBs - Old Boys - the guys you went to college with) Well, next to Bill is David and next to David is Ian.

David is a former civil servant who had a very successful career in the Treasury. Ian is a former high-flying accountant. Rob says I can't say any more than that because of personal data issues but what's important is that they are good companions and having connections with people who go right back to the three years that helped make him the person he is now is very important. And David was musical long before Rob began his saxophone journey ten years ago. In fact, David - being a Scot - was the Catz bagpiper (1967-1970) - but that's another story.

Ian and Rob were History scholars. Those of you familiar with Alan Bennett's 'The History Boys' will understand that they must have been taught very well and so assimilated the techniques of impressing Oxford examiners. Ian, like Bill, has always been a man of faith - in Ian's case, the Catholic faith. (Rob discovered faith later in his life and told me recently that he is a demythologising Christian Socialist. He says it's his own kind of trinitarian faith.) By their own admission, Ian worked too hard during his time at college and Rob did not work hard enough until the last few months before Finals. And Rob adds that it might have been a bit of an indulgence to have married at the end of his second year - although it did work out well enough for his late wife, Glynis, from St Anne's College also reading History, who succeeded in getting a first class honours degree. I never met Glynis - but respect! I have met Louise, of course, and she has my very deepest respect!

Dave S, Rob D, Ian R, John J, David R - Matriculation in the first week of the Hilary Term, October 1967 - the Catz Oxford experience begins - the boys are now 52 years older. The photographer is John R, another Catz matriculand - more of John later.

I thought you would like to see this image above from the family photo archive, not least because Rob sent a number of such photos off to the Catz Development Office and Jonny Murphy, the Events Officer, used them in the Lodge display for the Gaudy - as you can see below.

Gaudy display of memorabilia in the Catz reception area - Saturday 29 June 2019

John R, the photographer acknowledged further above, has become Rob's friend by email since they renewed their connection online earlier this year. John is a professor of History who sent his apologies for not being at the Gaudy. He clearly would have loved to have been there - but has made his academic journey in Canada since graduating and lives an international conference life during vacations. He and Rob have a common interest outside the academic world: marathons! John completed his Blue Nose Marathon walk in Nova Scotia on the 8th of June, earlier this month, in 6 hours 55 minutes and 37 seconds; Rob took 6 hours 28 minutes and 40 seconds to get to the end of the London Marathon run on April 28, a couple of months ago. I think John did better than Rob because Rob was cheating and 'flying' for at least eight and a half miles.

One other Catz man that Rob met and told me about was Chris M. He read English but Rob used to bump into him on his staircase and now they have a love of Greece in common. Chris has written books on the Greek Orthodox Church and the island of Crete. Chris still knows Renny Rye who was an English scholar back then and is now a retired famous TV director. We think he's famous because he has directed a significant number of 'Midsummer Murders' and we love watching them to relax and crying out as they start: 'It's a Renny!' when we see his name as the director. I join in too because they are very good programmes and for another reason that Rob says I'm not allowed to mention in cyberspace.

My place at the head of the bed 

A college wall is behind me - I am in the place where the wind knows my name!

These pictures above I have waited over half-a-century to enjoy. Me in my Catz college room.

I hope you have enjoyed this bear tale as much as I have savoured its creation.


  1. Back in St Ives Sally Ann Teddy enjoyed a very welcome, peaceful rest and on reading this is delighted to see that PT used the spell check as he does normally have a rather eccentric style of writing and spelling - learnt during the siege!

    1. PT says he could devote a whole chapter of his epic tale of Petergrad to the hazards of writing during the siege.

  2. Delightful, Rob - and Peter Ted!!!!

  3. Delightful, Rob - and Peter Ted!!!! Bp Bill

    1. Rob and PT say what a thrill it was to get such a review - and so quickly! Many thanks - and thanks too for the book which has arrived safely and we'll be writing a blogpost about it soon.

  4. A great life story. Many happy feelings.

    1. Thank you, Texas - PT and I love our American connections which thrive through the Jago Stone story. And PT says to tell Texas that Rob's dad, Frank (1908-92) was born in New York and we've got the certificate to prove it!

  5. Nicely Rob, What a delightful Hoot ! we loved it. Whats more it's such a relief to know that your 'famous four' had significantly more fun and caused infinitely less damage than did the Bullindon Club's disreputable 'four'. But, best of all, you and your Chumrades all went on to make a valuable contribution to Society, unlike those four 1987 buffoons.

    1. Thank you so much, Harry and Irene - a lovely compliment! I have only just now read your comment - I don't get notice of who has made a comment and to be honest they rarely appear. This post has been an exception and you know who's claiming the credit! By the way, Peter Ted wants you to know that he's got a word to describe those four which is considerably stronger than 'buffoons'.

  6. And Sally Anne Teddy is a very peaceful bear who goes to a Teddy bear Quaker Meeting... she values the silence!