Thursday, 5 April 2018
LADY BE BE BY STEVEN SMITH
Lady Be Be
By Steven Smith
This is the amazing story of a true star, Lady Be Be, the most famous and fabulously glamorous bear there ever was.
She was born Baby Be Be, deep in a Canadian forest, home of the black bear. Be Be's mother knew straight away that her little one was going to be special as, unlike the other black bears, she was born with fur that was sandy-blonde. And, just as she let out her first little cry, the largest shooting star imaginable passed through the sky, lighting the whole forest up.
"Look, my little daughter is going to be so very special,” gasped Mummy Be Be. She hugged her baby cub so tight, and was full of love for her, wishing only that the baby's father could have been there to see his amazing daughter. Sadly, a few months earlier, the hunters had raided their village and killed Pa Be Be for his shiny black fur, turning him into a hat for the Queen of England’s guards. Ma Be Be had managed to get away, and hid until it was safe. When she looked at her beautiful new cub, she could see her beloved husband gazing back at her in the eyes of Baby Be Be. He would live on in her forever.
Not all the other bears in the village shared her joy, however. Some were unsure about the unusual new cub and sniggered at her strange colour. Unkind talk and gossip swiftly spread through the forest community.
"It's not natural, if you ask me” sniggered Clara Bear, gawping in horror at Baby Be Be. “Are we quite sure the father is not a moose?” All the other bears hollered with cruel laughter. “Or maybe a red squirrel,” jibed one of Clara's friends.
Never in the history of the black bear had a cub been born such a colour. But, as proud Ma Be Be fussed over her child, she tried not to listen to the vile comments. "It’s the child I feel sorry for. Trust me, she will be bullied at bear school,” said Dee Bear, frowning. “Mmm, no no no! I sure won’t let my little Abigail play with such a bear cub – it might be catching!” said Dee, rolling her eyes heavenwards.
This was more than Ma Be Be could stand and she let out an almighty roar, a roar so powerful it knocked some of the lady bears off their feet. There was no way Ma Be Be was letting those small-minded village bears talk about her little baby that way. Her warning roar sent them a clear message – back off!
"Well I never, we were just trying to be helpful and observant,” said Clara. “There ain't anything nice about being different,” she said, as she and the other bears scampered off with their heads between their legs.
For the first few years of her life none of the other bears would play with Be Be. They were always too busy or just looked the other way when Be Be passed by and she was never invited to any bear parties. True to her word, Dee Bear refused to let her precious Abigail have anything to do with Baby Be Be and when Abigail had a birthday party, every other cub was invited except her.
Baby Be Be filled her long hours alone by watching the campers at the edge of the forest. She loved it when they sang and danced around the campfires at night, or had the radio on during the day as they picnicked and she would often impersonate them when she got home.
"Look Mum, I am dancing Bear, full of cheer. A dancing bear, for you, oh yeah!” Ma Be Be clapped and cheered – and so did Abigail and the other cubs passing by. “Sing more,” they would shout. So Baby Be Be danced and sang and they all cheered her, as mum handed out peanut cookies – a bear's favourite – and fizzy lemonade “borrowed” from the campers (bears never, ever steal anything, they simply borrow and forget to put back....).
Suddenly Dee Bear interrupted the festivities. “Abigail, get here now! Stay away from that odd coloured bear, you could end up catching all sorts,” she roared.
There was a silence as Be Be stopped singing and started to cry. This was the final insult and Ma Bear was preparing to charge Dee Bear when suddenly Abigail stood up. “No Mum,” she said, firmly. “That is prejudiced. We learnt at school today that to dislike someone because they are a different colour is wrong. She is every bit as good of us, if not better, and I want her at my party. Please mum, you can't or stay away from someone just because they're not the same colour as you.”
Having said her piece, Abigail ran to hug Baby Be Be, just to show her mum that she wouldn't suddenly be turned sandy-blonde.
Dee Bear was shocked. For once, she could think of nothing to say. She had certainly never thought of herself, or any of her friends, as being prejudiced, she just thought she was protecting her young from something different.
Looking at sweet Baby Be Be crying, and seeing the accusing glances of Abigail and the others, Dee Bear suddenly realised that she had been a very unkind and silly bear and that she had not been setting a good example to her daughter. There was no such thing different - Be Be was special.
"Oh what a silly old bear I have been! Of course she can come to the party. I am truly sorry - can you ever forgive me?” she begged Baby and Ma Be Be. "Of course,” Ma Be Be replied, smiling. “It would be prejudiced of us not to!”
So Baby Be Be was the star at the party and sang for all the children. She wore a special hat her mum had made out of pine-cones and leaves and everyone said she looked amazing.
"Let's be friends, let's be friends, take my word, let's be friends, take my word, it is here for you…..”
But that was not the last time Baby Be Be - or Lady Be Be as she famously became known - suffered jealousy or prejudice. In her best-selling biography she told how she turned the prejudice around to make her stronger and that she had forgiven those who had been unkind to her, just as her mother had taught her.
She would need all of that strength years later, after her mum died unexpectedly and she set out on her journey to fame.
Lady Be Be, the most famous and glamorous bear there ever was, was preparing for a party. There was nothing she liked more than parties, especially if she had been asked to sing. And that day she was going to sing her brand new song, ‘I Want To Be Free’.
“I am a most glamorous and fashionable bear, and soon to be famous,” Lady Be Be told Chutney and Bandit, her two loyal friends - or, as she liked to call them, her accessories. They were, in fact, two ferrets on the run from immigration in Canada. Lady Be kept them hidden in her very trendy tree house, which was kept in a very stylish fashion, of course. Just in case a magazine came to do a ‘Lady Be at home’ article.
She continued to arrange a small pillbox hat carefully on the side of her head; it was one of her own designs and crafted from leaves and twigs. “There are no famous lady bears”, giggled Bandit, but Lady Be Be ignored the ferret’s comments. If bears like Pooh, Paddington and Yogi could make it, then so could she. It was time for Girl Bear Power.
She slipped on a small red dress that she had ‘borrowed’ from a picnicker. Well, the girl clearly didn’t need it as she’d left it lying on the grass when she went for a swim in the river. Handily, it was next to a hamper full of good things and Lady Be Be helped herself to two smoked salmon bagels that had also been left unattended. Being glamorous is such hungry work.
“There, do I not look lovely?’’ she cooed.
“The most beautiful bear in town”, chanted Bandit and Chutney, breaking into a chorus of giggles. They hadn’t fully recovered from the events of the previous day, when Lady B took it upon herself to dye their hair – green for Chutney and blue for Bandit. They had been rewarded with extra fish and, their ultimate treat, peanut butter.
“Now for my jacket!’’ declared Lady Be Be. Bandit and Chutney scampered to the corner and pulled out a bright red jacket that was Lady Be’s pride and joy. She could not quite remember how she acquired it, but it looked just perfect on a most fashionable and soon to be famous bear.
“Thank you my darlings, you’ll still be my friends when I am famous,” she said. “Remember, you are having big bit of my pie now. When I am famous you may only get a small slice, but I love you.”
She had once heard a diva say that on TV and liked the sound of it. The TV was another possession she had acquired from a careless camper. Lady Be never thought of it as stealing; she was simply pursuing her art. She had learnt to speak perfect English from watching the programmes and she felt sure the owner would be thrilled the TV had gone to such a good cause.
“Pie?” Chutney’s head shot up. “You eat all the pies.” Bandit giggled and Lady Be was not impressed. “I am very slim for a bear, all I am saying is once I am famous do not expect to see as much of me.” Having made that quite clear, she applied her lipstick to complete the look.
“Any more peanut butter left?” squeaked the ferrets, more interested in their tummies than her look. “Patience, dears, after we have rehearsed my song for Ben and Roger Bear’s party.”
Meanwhile, not too far away in the forest Craig Bear had only just got up, and was defiantly not getting ready for a party. Craig Bear hates mornings; in fact Craig Bear hates most of the day, except bedtime. But the thing he hates most of all is parties. “Noisy things, full of other bears making silly small talk, never invite me to one,” he would growl. Come to think of it, Craig was not too keen on bears at all, with or without a party. What he really loves is hibernation, and collecting things he may need for his long sleep. “You can never have enough things to hibernate with,” was his rule number one.
Craig was busy collecting things and scratching his butt when he spotted his two least favourite bears, Mirabelle and Mandy. It was too late to hide - just the worst start to a day a Bear could wish for. “Rule number two, do not speak to a Craig Bear unless he speaks to you, and that will be never.”
“Good afternoon Craig Bear,” said Mandy, fluttering her eyelashes at him (though grumpy, Craig was a very handsome Bear). As always, she got a sharp reply: “What’s good about it?” he snarled, turning his back and continuing to collect leaves and acorns.
The lady bears just giggled at how grumpy a bear he was. “What are you doing?” inquired Mirabelle. As Craig Bear’s rule number three was “never reply to a stupid question” he of course gave no answer.
“Are you coming to the party tonight? We are all going, it’s Ben Bear’s birthday, there is going to be a peanut cake and all sorts. Those bears give the best parties ever!” Miranda said, shaking herself in excitement.
Craig Bear continued collecting, ignoring the two excitable lady bears.
“So we will see you there then?” said Mirabelle and Mandy, undaunted, and they waved a cheery goodbye.
“Not if I see you both first,” he muttered. “I would rather eat mouse dung than go to that party. Now leave me alone, can’t you two dumb bears see I am busy,” he said, flicking two acorns over his shoulder at them. “Rule number four: never invite a Craig Bear to a party; he hates them. Closely followed by rule number five: Craig Bear never dances, especially at parties.”
The lady bears took off, amused, as there had never been such a grumpy but handsome bear in the forest in all their years. Meanwhile, Lady Be Be was almost ready for the party.
“Come along now; let’s make all the other lady bears jealous. And we won’t take any notice of what they say - all great stars suffer on the way up.”
“Not quite as much as you!” said Chutney. “All the other lady bears seem to get quite upset when you’re around.” And then he got a shock himself, as he caught sight of his reflection, and his dark green hair, in the mirror.
“It is not nice to make people jealous or to be jealous” said Bandit, checking his hair out in the mirror. Lady Be Be knew Bandit was right; she would try her best not to flaunt just how amazing she was. Bandit, on the other hand, was pretty sure nobody was going to be jealous of him and his green hair.
“Are we sure the Queen’s hunters will not be out and about?” asked Bandit. Giggling, Chutney let out a most unfashionable gasp of wind, chanting: “If it’s blue, it was you.” Lady Be Be and Bandit were most unimpressed. Ferrets make great accessories, but rather smelly house pets.
“I do not think they will be around; a bear as famous as I am about to be could never be made into a hat for the Queen’s guards, I’m entirely the wrong colour,” said Lady Be, with great conviction.
Bandit and Chutney scampered over to Lady Be, arranging themselves around her neck like a stylish scarf. Not only did they look good, it was an excellent disguise in case the immigration man came looking for them. Ferrets are outlawed in Canada, as they eat all the fish, but it wasn’t fair, Bandit and Chutney thought, as they ate peanut butter too.
It wasn’t long before Lady Be Be, looking every inch the star, bumped into Mirabelle and Mandy and Mirabelle’s two little bear girls, Lovable and Joy, who where all heading to the party.
“Look mum, it’s her! I hope she sings,” screamed the girls.
“Oh no girls! Stay away, she is a disgrace to all bears. Who does she think she is?” Mandy sneered.
“Bears do not dress like that, it is most inappropriate,” snarled Mirabelle. The girls still begged their mum to let them hear Lady Be sing.
Ben and Roger bear came out of their tree house and rushed towards Lady Be. “You look wonderful, are you going to sing for us?” they said, jumping with enthusiasm.
“Must she? I have a headache,” groaned Mirabelle, as Chutney and Bandit unraveled themselves from Lady Be’s neck, snarling at Mandy and Mirabelle.
“Ooooh, Mum, what are those?” shrieked the girls, looking at Bandit and Chutney with a mixture of excitement and fear.
“They are squirrels,” answered Lady Be Be, swiftly tucking the ferrets back around her neck. Mandy and Mirabelle looked unconvinced.
“They are part of my act. They do backing vocals”.
“Singing squirrels! Whatever next!” Dancing badgers?” laughed Mandy and Mirabelle.
“Sing!” commanded Ben and Roger. “Sing please,” pleaded the two little girl bears, jumping up and down.
“Let’s wait till everyone is here,” said Lady Be Be to the birthday boy, “then I can sing my new song.”
News of a new song got everyone exited, and the chat was about little else as Roger and Ben laid out food and drink and greeted new guests.
“Just our luck, a new song…hope she does not sing too many,” sighed Mandy, getting less and less in the party spirit. But, as more and more guests turned up, the crowd began chanting for her to sing and Lady Be Be could resist no more.
“Oh darlings, if you insist” she said.
“We don’t,” said Mandy and Mirabelle. “Oh please, mum,” screamed the little girl bears, getting frustrated at their mother’s lack of enthusiasm for Lady Be Be. They were desperate to be just like her.
All the noise had quite upset a certain grumpy bear. Craig Bear was trying to enjoy an early night but his tree house was shaking with all the commotion. “Parties, parties, who needs them…I will give them a party!” he growled as he jumped up, scratched his bottom and wiped his eyes clean. Then he made his way to the party.
Lady Be took up position and Bandit and Chutney ran down from her neck and took up their posts too.
“Ooooh!“ screamed Mandy. “They are such an odd colour!” Up went Bandit and Chutney’s backs, as they spat at her.
“First a big Happy Birthday to the bear who helped design my tree house and who gave the forest the bear touch.”
Lady B began to sing:
“Call me Be Be, call me Lady,
I am what you want me to be,
but just set me free.
Free, free, free
I believed in love, I believe in being free
You can see me in the stars
You can feel me in your hearts
So set me free, free, free.”
The ferrets joined in the chorus:
“Ah, ah, set her free. I am not your Lady, I am not your bear,
I want to be free.”
The little crowd erupted, and Ben and Roger screamed: “We love you Lady Be Be!” As the diva took a bow, the ferrets jumped up and down and then rearranged themselves around her neck.
Unknown to the partygoers, hidden behind a large bush was one very startled Bear. Craig Bear had arrived and was about to make his feeling known but when he heard Lady Be sing something very strange happened to him. His legs and body started to move in a strange way and he couldn’t work out what was going on. Then suddenly he realised that he was breaking one of his biggest rules. “Oh no! I am dancing!” he roared.
Craig Bear peered through the bush and, for the first time ever, he saw a bear he liked. In fact, his heart was thumping so hard he felt quite giddy. He just had to meet the amazing bear with the wonderful voice!
He slipped away quietly and dashed to his tree house to find a gift for Ben Bear - and a comb to smarten himself up. He found a jar of gel – “that would make a perfect present” he exclaimed. And it would also give him a sleek and stylish new look.
Craig Bear’s arrival at the party caused quite a stir, especially as he looked so dashing. Mandy rushed to say hello. “Yeah, yeah, whatever,” Craig said, pushing past her.
“Welcome to my party,” said Ben, who was very surprised to see him – and more than a little worried that Craig Bear had come to complain.
Craig shoved the gel in Ben’s hand. “Happy, um, er, birthday. I don’t have them myself, but here you go,” mumbled Craig. He tried to smile but his face would not let him and he only managed to lift the left side of his lip, making it look more like a snarl. Besides, he was really only looking at one Bear - Lady Be Be.
She started a new song:
“Love Bear and want to be a love Bear
Do not have a care, just be a love Bear
Do not be mean; do not be unkind, just be a love bear.
Let’s swing around ah ah ah ah ah ah love bear.”
Before Craig knew it, and much as he hated it, he was swinging around and dancing to the music. He even blushed, as much as a bear can bush anyway.
“If you do not love, you will not feel true happiness from above
Come love with me ah ah ah ah ah ah”
The ferrets joined in “ah ah ah ah ah ah she just loves love.”
Lady Be Be moved among the audience to dance with Ben Bear on his special day.
“It’s good to huggle, and cuddle, love bear,” she sang.
It was all too much for Craig Bear. He pushed Ben aside and started to dance with Lady Be Be. She was shocked at first and not sure what to say, but he was such a dashing Bear so she smiled. Craig Bear smiled back and this time almost managed to get both sides of his mouth moving at the same time.
Suddenly, a loud gunshot rang out and the excitement turned to panic. Roger collapsed to the ground.
“Aagh,” screamed Mandy, “it’s the Queen’s hunters! We are all going to be hats.”
As she ran to scoop up her young, there was another shot and she fell down. “Mum has been shot!” the two little bears cried. With her last breath, Mirabelle said: “Mandy, take the girls. Quick! Hide!”
Another shot rang out.
“Ben, everyone, get away. Leave me, I cannot be helped,” Roger urged. “It’s not safe here. We will all be hats by morning.”
The shots were getting louder and more frequent and one bullet narrowly missed Lady Be who had lost Craig Bear in the commotion. The ferrets, which were whimpering in fear, ran back up Lady Be Be’s neck for safety.
“I am a star! How can they shoot?” said Lady Be Be.
“Run!” shouted Roger.
She and the terrified ferrets ran and ran and ran so fast through the forest, past the picnic area, over the river and across the railway track, where she jumped on a slow moving container train.
Once Lady Be Be had got her breath back, she saw a large container with a sign “UNITED KINGDOM LONDON.” Stealing a look inside, she saw the most marvelous clothes; clothes that were fit for a star such as she. There was a red military hat and jacket she had seen some singers wear on the TV. “Oh look, it is perfect for me.”
The ferrets rolled their eyes - only Lady Be Be could think of fashion at a time like this.
“Ferrets, we are going to London,” she declared. “Only in London will a star such as myself be truly appreciated. Climb aboard!”
“Does this mean we’re not getting any peanut butter?” demanded Bandit.
“Darlings, follow Lady Be to London and I will buy you a jar of peanut butter as big as a house”.
Bandit and Chutney wasted no time scrambling into the container. “Hurry, we can’t keep the fans waiting now, can we.” Chutney snuggled down as Lady Be closed the door of the container. “Next stop London, my loves”, she said happily.
Somehow they knew there was no bridge over the Atlantic Ocean so the train was going to be only part of the journey. But Diva Bears never did let the facts get in the way of a good story.
COPYRIGHT Steven Smith
LAWYER HENRI BRANDMAN
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