19th June 2023

In the film “Paddington 2”, poor Paddington has been put into prison for a crime he hasn’t committed. Prison food is pretty terrible and Paddington enquires why someone doesn’t have a word with the chef. He is challenged to approach the much feared chef Knuckles and he agrees: “Aunt Lucy says, if you look for the good in people, you’ll find it”.

At the end of a scene with some very Paddington-esque mishaps, he’s at risk of being turned into bear pie, when his marmalade sandwich lodges in the chef’s mouth. The chef puts Paddington under his protection in return for agreeing to make marmalade!

It takes Paddington a while to win over Knuckles but eventually he helps with making marmalade for the prison breakfast. Knuckles has no confidence in his latest breakfast offering, saying “My father always said I’d amount to nothing and he was right”. Paddington persuades the chef to take a look into the canteen – and Knuckles receives applause from the inmates.

Paddington says that they only know how to make marmalade, but if they have any recipes… The prisoners venture that they know how to make everything from panna cotta to roulades. Cue much activity in the kitchen, prison canteen transformed to look like a tea room with all sorts of elaborate cakes and a song “… you will lend your brothers a helping hand … Life would be easier, life would be breezier, if you love your neighbour”!

I rather like this story as a picture of what can happen if you reach out to those others fear, and the cascade of good that can follow.

Ruth Allen