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I used to loathe having to read “Berenstein Bear” books to the gels.  The real thing is way cooler:

A brown bear who became an unlikely hero after serving alongside Polish soldiers during the Second World War is finally to be honoured with a statue in Warsaw.

Wojtek, who was adopted as a cub by Polish soldiers stationed in Iran during 1941, liked to share beers and a cigarette with his fellow comrades, was taught to salute when greeted, and provided a welcome distraction to the horrors of war.

By 1944 and at 6ft tall on his hind legs and weighing in at close to 500lbs he was enrolled in the Polish army with his own rank and service number to circumvent orders that forbade animals from being taken to the frontline.

Showing no fear under fire, the Syrian brown bear joined the 22nd company of the Polish Army and carried live munitions during the battle at Monte Cassino, a feat that led him to become one of Poland’s best loved war heroes.

Now, after a long campaign, he is to be honoured in the country he served, but never visited, with a statue in the centre of Warsaw.

(The effort to get the statue erected, it should be noted, was spearheaded by a Scot, not a Pole.)

I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of the ammo-packin’ bear before.  Glad I know about him now.

UPDATE:  Speaking of bears always reminds me of this piece of nonsense I used to watch faithfully in my misspent yoot, nicely capturing the exquisite awfulness that was the mid 70’s:

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Nothing much to say today, perhaps because of the bug that seems to be sweeping through the ranks of the port-swiller household.  Two out of three gels are home (doubtlessly sneaking teevee shows behind my back), while the rest of us trudge along in various states of mild to moderate discomfort.

Speaking of discomfort, it’s just over a week until ol’ Robbo gets his ulcer checked out.  Now I ask you, friends of the decanter, if a nurse is trying to get hold of one for a pre-surgery telephone interview, wouldn’t it make sense for her to, you know, leave a return number as part of her voice message?  I’d have thunk so.

But then again, I’m not a doctor.  Nor do I play one on teevee.

I recently posted some observations on various books I’ve been reading.  Allow me to make another one?  Dickens is thrown away on high school kids.  Following on a resolution I made a few weeks back, I’ve picked up A Tale of Two Cities, a novel I haven’t read in, oh, thirty years or so.  What fun!  This brings up the age old question about the overall wisdom of exposing the kiddies to the classics (not just in liddushur, but also in musick and other arts).  On the one hand, yes, I suppose it’s a good idea to give them said exposure.  On the other, as I say, that exposure probably is a waste in most cases.  Also, it leaves the kiddies thinking that since they’ve already “done” Dickens (or whoever) in high school, there’s no reason to ever go back again.

Of course, I’m assuming that Dickens is still read in high school, but really, I’ve no basis for that assumption.  What do the kids read these days?

Those of you keeping track at home of the various household breakages at the port-swiller residence may be interested to know that it’s now the turn of the dining room chandelier, which I have a sneaking suspicion has fallen victim to mice chewing on the wires (although I have not, to date, detected any odor of fried mouse).  The result is that we’ve been eating dinner by candle light.  I must say that this is one of the more pleasant inconveniences we’ve had to endure.

Well, that’s about it, but I may as well let out of the bag now a treat that I’ve been saving up for you:  Next week, ol’ Robbo hits the road on his biznay travels again.  By happy circumstance, I will be passing near enough to Chez Peperium to warrant a visit.  Knowing Mrs. P as I do, I have every reason to expect that said visit will produce all kinds of blog-worthy material.  It’s gold, Jerry.  Gold!


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January 2012