There’s been a skip outside a house up the street for a couple of weeks now, gradually filling with rubble from demolition, then off-cuts of wood, then spare bits of insulating board. Each time we walk past we automatically check the contents and think, can we use any of that? Untreated wood gets hauled out and put n the stove, and we’ve been considering the insulating board for a couple of days, when this morning I spot… a furry foot.
“No!” I cry in anguish, “you can’t do that!” and I pull hard, and there is a rather unprepossessing brown bear in a grubby white dress with sailor collar. She is semi stiff with frost, and not exactly clean. A immediately names her Elsie, and we carry her home to defrost.
It always upsets me when perfectly good bears are left are left at roadside shrines for accident victims. Bears should be comforting the bereaved, not sacrificed on altars. And those bears you see grimed and polluted, tied to the radiators of HGVs and waste disposal trucks, presumably rescued from waysides and bins, but what a way to treat a bear – couldn’t they be sat on the dashboard?
“Time for an Alton Towers moment”, A says as I strip off the sailor-dress ready for a spin in the washing machine.
“What’s Alton Towers?” asks Elsie, embarrassed to be caught in her under garments – only her feet and arms and head have fur; the rest is plain white cotton, like a nineteenth century wax doll. Elsie’s head is over large, the dress has to come off downwards.
“Whee…!” says Elsie, and that’s all we hear from her for about an hour.
Elsie is recovered from the wall of death and put on a radiator to dry out, none the worse for the adventure. Hilary Behr (prof) who is on the radiator too, sniffs disparagingly. She once wrote a thesis on the teddy bear in popular culture with the subheading prop or icon, which she will make available to this blog if the public make enough fuss; and she has regular comments to make about what she calls marketing opportunities.
“What’s a marketing opportunity?” Elsie asks, and “will you turn me over now, this side’s done.” She is still minus the dress, which is in the washing machine now, but may need bleaching.
“Careful, or she’ll have her paws under the table.” A says, heading off to bed. She can talk, she is personally responsible for a small raft of rescue cases that sit on her window sill together with ghastly zombie bears that she has been given by devoted students at various points in her teaching career, and hasn’t the heart to dispose of.
“Lets get one thing clear,” H Behr (D Phil) says, “This is a charity case, as in going in the next charity bag, this radiator isn’t big enough for another bear.” There is a chorus of approval from the radiator, where Liberty, Jezza, Eric, Sylva, Ron, Buffy and Jake gently warm their stuffing.
That’s the trouble with stuffeds. Give them a name and they’ll take a personality, a political outlook and an entrenched attitude to other toys. There is a subtle jockeying between the stuffeds and the knitteds. I think the knitteds, led by Eric the dinosaur are currently in charge. The Cats of course treat them all with contempt; although they never tangle with them, they know which are their toys, and which are Toys… I think it’s much the same as when cats chase squirrels, they always do so at the exact speed the squirrel is going, so that they run away, but they don’t get caught; so no one has to work out whether they are actually prey or not.
“You do know they aren’t real?” Julian asks, as he tries to get between me and the laptop. I recoil from his whiskers and encourage him off. He settles himself to sleep with his shoulder against my thigh, muttering “not another bleeding stuffed,” as he gets himself comfortable as only a cat knows how.
© Cherry Potts 2012