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Just About a Teddy Bear With a Wonky Nose*

“What does he think I am? A baby?”

Deep embarrassment was making me peevish.  I did not want my mother, grandmother – and, especially, the guests – to think I was still a little girl who liked teddy bears.  After all, I was five.  It was bad enough that I was already in my pyjamas and slippers, ready for bed, when everyone else was staying up – but rubbing it in with a teddy bear was insulting.  Luckily, my mother’s boss – the man responsible for my social discrediting, this Christmas Eve – was not present, so I was able to ridicule him with as much haughty outrage as I felt.  It was not the first time he had triggered my anger.  When I heard he went hunting pheasants at weekends, I used my mother’s mechanical typewriter to write him a letter which began, “Dear Murderer” before spiralling into accusations and heartfelt wishes that he might be appropriately punished for his crimes against animals.  I then gave the letter to my mother to take to him, never doubting that she would deliver it straight into his hands (even then, diplomacy was an alien concept to me).  When, a few months later, I heard that he had injured his thumb whilst cleaning his hunting rifle, I cheered.

And now, that horrid man was giving me a teddy bear for Christmas.  Not just that – but a cheap and nasty-looking one.  My other teddy bear, which my mother had bought me the previous year, and which sat on an armchair, gathering dust, was made of wool and velvet, with articulated paws.  I will never know why I did not play with him, but he was a quality bear.  This one was stuffed with some kind of mediocre sponge, and was not even brown but some kind of non-descript pinkish-reddish-orangey, with white muzzle, tummy and feet.  Dark brown bead eyes with large black pupils, an upside down, vaguely  heart-shaped piece of red felt for a mouth, and a little black nose which was stuck off-centre.  A cheap teddy bear with a wonky nose.  Couldn’t my mother’s boss at least have spent a little more?

Of course, there would never be any question of my playing with such a low quality toy but I could not stop staring at the wonky nose.  Defective.  No one would ever play with him.  He would just lie there, under the Christmas tree, on top of the scrunched up wrapping paper.  Later, the lights would be switched off, and he would lie there, alone, in the dark, with his wonky nose.  Suddenly, tears were streaming down my face.  No one would ever love Teddy, and he would be thrown away.

I took wonky-nosed Teddy to bed with me, to comfort him.  I told him it would only be for that night, because it was Christmas Eve.

I fell asleep, hugging Teddy, for many, many years to come.

He now lives among my woollen jumpers.  He is still with me.

Scribe Doll

* With thanks to Rosy Cole for inspiring me to write this, with her story Elephant’s Footnote.

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Comments
26 Comment count
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Precious

Precious.

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Thank you :–)

Thank you :–)

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Lovers of "wonky teddy bears"

Lovers of "wonky teddy bears" are the best kinds of people.  

 

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Or maybe it's just that they

Or maybe it's just that they feel wonky, too.

Thank you for reading and commenting, Amy.

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Yes, perhaps.  That's how

Yes, perhaps.  That's how they understand that "wonky" can still be lovable.

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Who knows?

Who knows?

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I just can't help but see a

I just can't help but see a bit of all of us in that wonky, imperfect, adorable pink teddy bear.  

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I guess he does look pink in

I guess he does look pink in the photo.  He's a little more reddish in real life.

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Just About A Teddy Bear With A Wonky Nose

What a skillfully written blog that delighted and moved me in equal measure. This is a seriously good piece of writing that touches on so many things in life way beyond the title of your piece. Well done Katia. 

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Thank you very much,

Thank you very much, Nicholas.  I appreciate it.

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Wonky is one of my all time

Wonky is one of my all time favorite words!

Loved this story, Katia!

Annette

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Thank you so much, Annette.

Thank you so much, Annette.  Glad you like it.

I like "wonky", too.  Very idiomatic, isn't it.

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Katia, thank you for this delightful piece

I suspect we are born with a natural instinct for healing ourselves, inner and outer, which 'reason', the world's agenda, and so much else, distracts us from. Without being sentimental, there is such powerful innocence here. It's one of the great handicaps of humanity, that what we deeply 'know' must be unlearned in order to function as adults.

On top of that, it can be a bit alarming that even 'given wisdom' (which once purported to be timeless) is subject to the whims and changes of fashion. Some truths are lost to whole generations who are now casting about in a desert of materialism. I don't mean this in any religious sense, though faith can inform.

Anyway, it's good to know that Teddy survives!!

Thank you kindly for the mention :)

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"It's one of the great

"It's one of the great handicaps of humanity, that what we deeply 'know' must be unlearned in order to function as adults."

I totally agree with you.  Only yesterday, I was trying to explain to someone that there are two ways of knowing something (in my opinion).  One form of knowledge is empirical or based on calculation and reason – all of which can only be "codified" by means of our physical brain.  Now, at least in my case, my brain functions are painfully limited and coarse in processing much finer information and realities.  I often feel that my brain is like a basic dictionary with just not enough definitions in it.  Then, there is the second form of knowledge, which, I think, transcends the coarse physical tools we have at our disposal.  Some people call it instinct or intuition.  It's a way of reaching knowledge by jumping over all the boring hoops of empiricism.  You just know.

I always imagine type 1 knowledge as crawling on the floor, analysing every tile in great detail, and then, after a long time, deducting that it is a floor.  Knowledge 2 involves standing up on a chair and immediately seeing it's a floor made up of tiles.

Having said that, I am not content with instinct alone, and I think learning empirically is the only way we can evolve into beings whose physical and non-physical parts work in perfect harmony.

Alas, the process is laborious and painful.  Moreover, while our brain is at the "adolescent" stage of evolution, it causes havoc and damage all 'round.

For a writer, I am not expressing all this very well, but I hope you understand what I mean.

Thank you for your thoughtful and very wise comment, Rosy.

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Brain as dictionary...or reference index

A well-conditioned memory is vital, but real intelligence is about the ability to classify information and feel the contextual pulse.

The older I get, the more I value intuition. Things I 'knew' in my teens, but dismissed due to environmental wisdom and pressures, have proved to be sound. I've taken a very tortuous detour to arrive at this conclusion. But that's what life is. The journey. Empiricism and learning by it along the way, or else empiricism that proves what we sense. However, I'd probably have made just as many mistakes, if of a different kind, had I followed my star decades ago. But there is real virtue in making your own mistakes and not adopting the 'sensible' or prescribed course and suffering 'second-hand' consequences. It works for me and I trust it now. The sages who say that for seekers of wisdom, all roads lead to God, were on to something. Recognising who God is, of course, can require a trip to Specsaver :)

To me, the great adventure and art of living, is acquiring the judgment of where to fit the frame in any situation, in order that the picture is vivid, viable and an inspiration.

Katia, you described your thoughts graphically...as usual! :)

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"But there is real virtue in

"But there is real virtue in making your own mistakes and not adopting the 'sensible' or prescribed course and suffering 'second-hand' consequences."

Hear! Hear!

Thank you for responding to my comment, Rosy.

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Wonky indeed

It takes a real genuine soul to see past the wonky exterior to find a way to embrace the imperfect around us.  Cute little bear. Interesting account of schadenfreude too with the mishap and the boss.  You don't get that a lot - cute bears and schadenfreude in one post!

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I've always had a mean streak

I've always had a mean streak ;–)  

Thank you for reading and commenting, Anne.

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And you are still a girl who

And you are still a girl who likes teddy bears! Did you just find it packed away in one of your moving boxes? What a great story to remember. How you rescued a stuffed animal. I wouldn't expect anything less from you. xo

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Shhh! Don't tell! Yes, I

Shhh! Don't tell! Yes, I found Teddy among towels when I was packing to move out.

Thank you for reading and commenting.

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What a beautifully told

What a beautifully told memory--Wonky Teddy and all. I loved it!

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Thank you, Judee.  Glad you

Thank you, Judee.  Glad you enjoyed it.

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Prop Wonky Teddy up on the

Prop Wonky Teddy up on the armchair and let him look out the window at the world beyond, K. I can just see him with his little legs crossed and a pipe in his mouth musing on the universe and all its coming and going! mx

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He can't cross his legs, they

He can't cross his legs, they aren't articulated.  But putting him in the window armchair is a great idea.  

Thank you for reading and commenting, Mary x

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Katherine: There is something

Katherine:

There is something about defen=ctive toys that draws me to them. A wonky nose would be akin to a pleasant quirk. Loved your reminiscenes. I am not quite ashamed to admit that I still buy soft toys - some as gifts and most certainly one for myself. There is something reaffirming about them, and when they get frayed one wants to protect them.

Shared warmth. Just like here...

~F

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I like hand-made soft toys

I like hand-made soft toys because, as you say, each is an individual with a quirk.  I used to love and have a large collection of soft toys.  My ex-husband used to buy them for me every birthday and Christmas, we would give them names (I know, that's so 'sad') and they would 'sign' all our greeting cards.  They grew into a ridiculously large collection.  Then, when I got a cat (who slept on my bed every night) I somehow didn't want cuddly toys anymore, and took them all to the charity shop.  I now have two, Teddy (above) from my childhood, and a mini-teddy given to me by a Polish student in the first class I ever taught after I qualified in Teaching English as a Foreign Language.

Thank you for reading and for sharing in the warmth :–)