Sitting in the car last Friday, I was listening to Desert Island Discs on the radio.
I remember this from years ago, which is not surprising as it’s one of Radio 4’s most popular and long running programmes as it dates back to 1942.
The format is simple: the presenter asks ‘castaways’ to choose eight records, a book and a luxury to take with them to a mythical desert island.
It took me back over 50 years to the time as a child I became anxious as to what I would take if I had to leave the house in a hurry, say in the case of a fire. It wasn’t that I had a lot of ‘things’ or toys, but if I could only take one thing, I wanted to be prepared for such an emergency if it arose. I was about 5.
I opted for my Teddy Bear. He was the Guardian of all my childish secrets, my best friend, and undoubtedly my favourite toy.
He wasn’t my first bear though, as apparently the one I was given as a baby was stolen from my pram. I can’t ever remember giving him a name other than ‘Ted’ although these days he’s referred to as Grandad because of his age. I know I gave him an identity crisis by dressing him up in a purple net petticoat tutu with satin ribbons for years. Now he just wears a pair of red and white checked underpants held up with a safety pin to protect his modesty.
He’s an old style bear though, his head being made in sections and seamed, straw filled (so I was always careful not to get him wet) , with leather paws, plush fur, button eyes, a stitched nose, jointed limbs and when you tipped him forward, he’d growl.
His paws are all darned now, he’s almost bald, and has lost his voice, and being the same age as me, he’s considered to be an antique.
About five years ago, the ladies group I belonged to were short of speakers and I got nominated to do a talk.
Never one to have been in front of an audience in this regard, I wondered what on earth I could talk about that would hold the interest of some 25 elderly ladies for about half an hour.
I came up with the subject of the Bear Necessities.
A friend was on the committee, and knowing how frugally we lived, spelt it as BARE, so most people were expecting something along the lines of budgeting and shopping tips.
Hubby and I arrived at the hall laden down with baskets containing books (the last gift from my father was a teddy bear book, which is priceless and so very precious to me) and a selection of teddy bears, plus a tripod for my flip chart (nothing as sophisticated as a computer slide show) . I’d run off half a dozen or so Teddy Bear Timeline fact sheets, and had examples of earrings, tea towels, ornaments, candle stick holders, and a load of other samples of our collection laid out on one of the tables.
Being an arctophile, my talk consisted of childhood memories, facts and figures about bears, plus loads of illustrations we’d found on the internet.
We’d even managed to do a large poster in segments of our teddy bear ‘Hug’ (collection of teddy bears) which we pinned up on the front of the table, and using bluetac so as not to mark the walls, put up the words of Me and My Teddy Bear (which I sang with my friend at school aged 6) and The Teddy Bear’s Picnic.
I have to admit it all went down rather well.
All of our bears have names, and each have their own story to tell, from the bodyguard armed with a water pistol because he hates violence, to Bashful whose arms got stuck in position as he was forever hiding his face.
Not to mention the punch up that ensued between our two pilots over who was going to be in the captain’s seat of the model spitfire Hubby built.
Grandad by the way is at the back next to Ralph, our largest bear (he’s the cheeky chap waving) and Barney (the chocolate bear who is Second in Command of the group) .
And you see that tiny yellow chap right in the middle at the front wearing the pink vest and black bow tie?
That’s Charlie, and he started it all. Now his is a story for another day.