Welcome to Cozy Week, where we’ll curl up by the glow of our screens to celebrate all that’s soft in entertainment. Pour yourself a cup of hot cocoa and sit by us as we coo over the cutest games, cry over the tenderest movie moments, and drift off to the most comforting shows. Because it can be a cold world out there, and we need something to keep us warm.
Moving cities can be a completely chaotic affair. Sometimes piecing together your new life — applying for jobs, figuring out the rental market, picking a phone provider, finding out which bars to avoid — goes as well as one Paddington Bear trying to fix a phone book with sellotape.
To clarify, this does not go well.
But while you’re trying to unravel yourself from your sticky peril, it’s the will to succeed that gets you through a huge life change like moving — and you probably won’t be simultaneously hunted from the ceiling by a crazed taxidermist. Probably.
If you’ve ever moved cities, or are planning to one day, I can thoroughly recommend watching Paddington, as well as its offensively delightful sequel. The story of an overtly polite Peruvian bear who fumbles his way through adorable moments of slapstick comedy to finding happiness in his new home of London, these movies capture the anxiety, excitement, loneliness, and sense of independence that comes with finding your feet somewhere new.
I’ve moved cities overseas twice, moving from Sydney to New York and back again, and most recently moving to London, like our marmalade-addicted, duffled-coated hero. And, like all journeys, things have found a way of working out — albeit with all the waterlogged grace of Paddington “using the facilities.”
Put simply, Paddington’s adjustment to London is nothing short of absolute chaos. He navigates his way through a new city with all the elegance of a Nutri Bullet improperly sealed. From his first interaction with the Browns, his future family, he pours hot tea all over a cafe table, gets his foot stuck in a cup, squirts ketchup over fellow diners, and finds himself inexplicably covered in whipped cream — all of which is pretty much how my first few months of living in New York City went, give or take a few details.
Paddington inexplicably flooding the entire bathroom by breaking the toilet after almost drowning in it is me figuring out a new country’s tax system while doing my tax return for back home. Paddington riding an avalanche of water in a bathtub down a spiral staircase is me researching phone providers only to get sucked into an online whirlpool of recommendations. It is just wildly relatable disorder.
A quick note before we move on, it must be recognised that Paddington does not willingly leave home on a flight of fancy. In fact, he emigrates to the UK as a refugee after a natural disaster, an earthquake, tragically takes his home and his beloved Uncle Pastuzo from him. “They will not have forgotten how to treat a stranger,” Aunt Lucy tells Paddington, giving him an optimistic last piece of advice before he ships out. “Remember your manners and keep safe.”
Yeah, it’s not always that easy.
Your very first, probably chaotic day
It doesn’t matter how many times you study up on a place, your first day there will throw it all out the window. Like would-be travellers with their noses plunged into a Lonely Planet guide, Paddington and his family meticulously study London etiquette from records — what to say, how to say it, how many ways there are to talk about the weather.
“Follow these simple rules and you will always feel at home in London,” the record says.
Anyone who has emerged at a foreign train station hoping to get their bearings by asking someone, or who has simply taken a train in London during peak hour, can identify with one moment in the film. Arriving in his namesake station, Paddington immediately puts all his ‘training’ to use, politely greeting the morning rush hour of commuters, wielding his well-rehearsed one-liners about the weather. No one stops, of course. Paddington, for all his politeness, is ignored. Didn’t he follow the rules? Where was the warm welcome the guide had promised?
Paddington pretty quickly finds himself somewhere to stay that isn’t a dingy hostel or the station itself. Of course, Paddington is a distant fairy tale to many who have been displaced or relocated to a new city, those who haven’t found loving, generous families headed by a benevolent Sally Hawkins and a curmudgeonly Hugh Bonneville to scoop them up and give them a home — sadly, Paddington’s plight is the best case scenario. His luck at being found by The Nicest Family in The World is something I truly wish for those who’ve found themselves in uncharted territory. It doesn’t always happen, in fact, it rarely does.
When I moved to London, I was lucky enough to be scooped up by dear friends who’d already made the long voyage to the city from Sydney (Australians in London? Who knew?) or who’d grown up in the UK and could teach me the ways. After dragging my notably marmalade-less suitcase into my dear friend’s house for a generous, delightful spell, I was then graciously introduced by another dear friend to a very kind future friend who gave me a place to live, with a slanted roof and a window that looked out over Brixton’s rooftops, kind of like Paddington’s wonderful little attic. I truly lucked out, finding safety in a brand new city purely thanks to wonderful, generous people. I know it doesn’t happen that way for everyone, and it’s a big problem.
Not exactly like the postcard
Many of us tend to project a level of fantasy onto places we haven’t yet visited, as dramatically as Uncle Pastuzo does when praising his distant love. “Ah, London, where the rivers run with marmalade and the streets are paved with bread,” he says, lathering up his next sandwich and admitting he “skimmed” the book on the city.
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In fact, it’s more often than not the complete opposite of what you had in your head.
“London is not how we imagined it,” Paddington writes to his Aunt Lucy in the first film. “Hardly anyone says hello, or wears hats, and you can no longer simply turn up at the station and get a home. It’s hard to see where a bear could ever belong in such a strange, cold city.”
“It’s hard to s
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