And now for something completely different.
The other day I was at my sister's place. She lives in the country with her 6 children, 2 goats, 2 cats, squillions of chickens, 1 husband and a rusty old dog. I was surprised - nay, shocked - to see someone she once loved lying on top of a pile of junk that was headed for the rubbish tip. It was Edward the giant teddy bear. He was a gift from our parents on her 7th birthday. He was hiding in the cloakroom when she came home from school. She went to hang up her coat and there he was in the dark corner, waiting for her.
Edward is - was - a bright yellow bear about 4 feet tall. My parents bought him second-hand for five pounds sterling, so he's of unknown vintage but is in his mid-thirties, at the very least. His seams are coming apart, his stuffing is leaking out, his nose has gone completely flat, his ear is half ripped off... But he's Edward! And my sister was just throwing him out! No room, she said. Too many toys filling up the house already, and she didn't have time to repair him.
When I was little, every stuffed animal I owned was a person with a soul. I loved them to bits, sometimes literally. I remember walking to school one day with my sister and seeing a garbage bin on the street overflowing with old stuffed toys that the local children's home was throwing out. We were devastated. We wanted to rescue them but didn't dare raid someone else's bins.
So I rescued Edward. I'm going to pull him apart, wash him and patch him, refill him with new stuffing (nice clean polyester from Lincraft instead of nasty foam chips) and stitch him up like new. Edward the giant teddy bear has suffered (in a good way, mostly) at the hands of my sister and her six children. Now he will be my baby's giant teddy bear so she can love him to bits all over again.