The Third Leader: Bear market

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The Independent Online

This space is aware of its responsibilities: in some matters, readers expect not only comment, but guidance. And so we turn to what no less a figure than Mr John Humphrys has defined as one of "the big questions": Paddington Bear and Marmite.

Mr Humphrys, I fancy, was being a touch sarcastic about the controversy raging around the ursine Peruvian's commercial flirtation with the said savoury spread after many years of uncomplicated devotion to an orange-based sandwich component.

It is, nevertheless, a matter that touches on tradition and renewal, art and patronage; on whether we should move boldly forward, or – in a very real sense in this instance – conserve.

This, after all, is the very question presently troubling Mr David Cameron, Mr Nick Clegg, the Rugby Football Union, Northern Rock account holders, Stella Artois and Mr 50 Cent. The confusion over the extent of Paddington's espousal is also finely contemporary.

A ticklish matter, then; and not made any easier by Independent readers' renowned relish for the renowned relish, or, as I have already noted, the adoption by Rupert Bear of trainers.

But this is a newspaper for the daring, the visionary and the shock of the new. Undeterred by the frankly lukewarm reaction to my suggestion that the way to counter the machismo and attract female drinkers is to rename it Brad Artois, I today call for King's Cross Bear to drink Tennent's Extra, Gromit to eat Cheesy Wotsits, Violet Elizabeth Bott to wear Prada, Thomas to fall off the wagon and Tarzan to come out as someone who swings both ways.

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