Saturday, 18 December 2010

A Book Review - Rupert Bear

In these stories a much loved character that is known as Rupert Bear is featured in a continuous series of adventures. What most people should realise from his name is that he is not in fact a fictional character at all, but a real person. All fictional bear characters invariably have a name starting with B, Bruno, Barney etc. As his name is Rupert we can see immediately that like Winnie the Pooh, it is a real name. No one could make up a name like that.
Describing him as a bear is rather unkind because there is nothing ursine about him apart from the shape of his head. Unknown to most people, he is completely human but suffers from an inherited genetic deformity analogous to the Elephant man, but more symmetrical in effect. His deformity is an inherited condition that both his parents and many of his relations suffer from too, and may in fact be a mutation. Other symptoms of this condition are that he is completely hairless and his body chemistry causes his skin to be paper white most of the time. His complexion sometimes takes on a brownish yellow hue, something like a sun tan, but which is actually the reverse and is caused by a lack of sunlight since this colouration is most predominant in midwinter, particularly around Christmas time.

Rupert is brown in midwinter

Rupert is otherwise completely human, having correctly proportioned limbs and five fingers and five toes on his hands and feet. However, he rarely takes his shoes off, even when playing at the seaside, and appears rather reticent to expose his feet. I can only assume that whilst not deformed visibly they need his special supportive boots that he wears constantly.

This poor child has been brought up in a kind of reservation which is shared by other similarly afflicted people, including an entire family of ‘Elephant Man syndrome’ people who are much more elephantine than Rupert is Ursine, having very deformed bodies giving rise to thickened skin, a trunk like appendage on the face and deformed hands and feet. Most of the other unfortunates living in the same location have the same white pigmentation and as with Rupert’s friend Bill, a black banding which gives rise to his nickname Bill Badger. The white areas on most of these victims, turns a slightly different colour around mid winter too, ranging from the brown Rupert shows to a grey colour for the Elephant family.

Amongst the deformed people living in Nutwood you will run across a few healthy people who are employed by the institute. The ‘Professor’ and the scientist, known only as the ‘Chinese Conjurer’, are medical professionals who are working on possible cures, but the main aim of Nutwood is integration with the outside world.

These two men have dedicated their lives to helping people like Rupert

To this end carefully selected staff are encouraged to live in along with their own families and mix with the afflicted and are slowly integrating them into a modern society.

Occasionally Rupert and his family travel outside this area, often to a particular destination, a small seaside town referred to as Sandy Bay and the nearby Rocky Bay, where they mingle with many normal people who are unusually kind to them, obviously aware of the project and ‘that there but for the grace of God etc.’ The names of these places given in the stories are obvious disguises for the real locations.

Mixing with normal people can be quite traumatic for poor Rupert and sometimes after a long visit away from Nutwood he requires counselling.

I felt everyone really hated me
As well as dedicated professionals, occassionally this is done by voluntary groups often recruited from the Girl Guides, since they are able to retain a child’s perspective.

Sometimes being accepted by these children is important therapy

To pay for this vast and very long term project, apart from the yearly Rupert annuals on sale around Christmas, a great deal of merchandising is done based around fantasy versions of their life, which whilst a steady mans of funding for the institute, is also a subtle means of preparing the outside world for the sight of these unfortunate, hideously deformed, people when they are finally integrated fully into the outside world.
This project has been running for several decades and needs to be staged very carefully to avoid trauma on the part of the victims and encourage acceptance on the part of the outside world. One very interesting side effect of the complaint which causes these ghastly deformities is that almost all of the victims have incredible longevity and they age so slowly that over the entire length of the project few have shown any signs of ageing. This too is being researched very closely since it is obviously of great interest to the outside world and seems to have been passed on to some of the social workers and medical teams that have had long term contact with these victims. This is not advertised widely since it is little understood and the team would be overwhelmed with volunteers whose only motive would be to gain longevity.

It is difficult to imagine what it must be like for the children to remain immature for such a long time, but with only one or two exceptions, notably the Foxoid brothers and the porcine girl, they seem well adjusted and remain perpetually cheerful and in good spirits.

Because of the longevity of many of the long term people working there you will see a number of different styles of clothing being worn from many different eras, which suggests some have been working there a very long time indeed. Amongst the inmates of this institution, symptoms can be limited to just his skin pigmentation and the longevity.

The two characters shown below, the Regency gentleman and the Pike man, who has been in the area a very long time, have no visible mutations at all other than longevity and a greater or lesser degree of skin pigmentation disorder.

Normality in appearance is not always a sign of dedication to the project, because certain unfortunate cases have been unable to cope with the longevity and have lost touch with reality. In their minds they believe themselves to be genuine pirates or bandits and so on and before discovery are often able to hide in the vast Nutwood grounds with fellow delusionists, living the life of an outlaw and so reinforcing their delusion.

The published stories that have come out of this amazing institute, as opposed to the unpublished details of certain case studies which remain too disturbing to reveal, whilst more often are fantasy, not all are entirely fictious since delusional patents believing themselves to be real bandits or pirates have needed the authorities to flush them out of hiding so that they can be restrained and given therapy.

Because Rupert and other children are free to roam the Nutwood grounds, they have occasionally stumbled across these unfortunate victim’s hideouts and become involved in their recapture. On these occasions, the marketing department quick to realise the potential as a narrative, have used some of these real life situations as the basis of various published adventure stories.
Long before I discovered the truth behind them, Rupert stories were an important part of my childhood literature and I read and re-read any Rupert Annuals I was given for Christmas. Now I am aware of the wonderful charity that is behind these I am overwhelmed with admiration and hope that modern science can improve the lot of thes remarkably cheerful individuals.
All the stories are very entertaining and I give them 9.9 out of ten for readability and despite the tragic truth behind these stories I would recommend them for any child.
Because the Nutwood institute is entirely self funding, they have a registered charity which can be found at where donations may be given via Play Pal.


  1. Snafu, your humour should be bottled and available on the National Health Service. I'll be chortling away all day now, thinking about these poor, pallid unfortunates. x

  2. Wow. I am most impressed.

  3. Good grief, Snafu! You have really outdone yourself this time! I had to read it twice to make sure I didn't miss anything.

    I loved Rupert Bear. It was in Rupert bear books that I saw some drawings of cliffs like those at Flamborough. Then when we moved north to Flamborough, (actually it was Filey we went to first), we took a taxi to get to our new home. Looking out of the window as we were driving, I first saw the Flamborough cliffs in the distance. Now I was only six at the time but I was completely bowled over to see cliffs, just like in the Rupert books. Up until that moment, I, in childlike innocence thought Rupert's cliffs were just a part of the imaginary Rupert world! I can't tell you how excited I was to discover there were REAL cliffs in our world. My first introduction to Flamborough -- no wonder it has gripped me so.

  4. Chris, I had a similar experience because I had never been anywhere with rocks and tall cliffs before Flamborough. We had been to Norfolk and a rather flat part of Kent, so like you I always thought the scenes in Rupert books were just for effect and cliffs like that were only in stories or faraway lands.
    Isn't it funny how you see all the spelling mistakes after you have posted:/

  5. I never, ever noticed that Rupert never, ever took off his did I miss that?

    Rabbit, your book reviews are doing this generation of children a great service -- keep up the good work -- the world is a better place because of you.

  6. Kaybee, he does take them off in at least one episode to show normal human feet. Due to the Infringement of Personal Privacy EC ruling 1995, I can only post released pictures.

  7. Scarily I recognise most of the pictures on this entry of your blog.

    I now realise that he never even took off his boots when he was suffering from that dreadful sticky Chinese carpet....... Poor lad must be very upset about his feet

  8. Never thought of poor Rupert's feet before but they are clearly visible on page 71 of the No 68 Annual for 2004 in the story 'Rupert and the Lost Shell' - and they are definitely human!

  9. How does one email snafu direct?

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