A really organised person, I am sure, strips the bedclothes off the beds thirty seconds after her visitors have waved goodbye and headed off home. Me? No, I am afraid I am a bit of a slob where Bed Stripping is concerned.
I wait for the next set of visitors to descend before changing the bedclothes. After all, it might turn out that the next visitors are the same as the last visitors (please keep up, won't you?) in which case they won't require a change of linen unless they've
stayed for a week. And I would have stripped the beds, washed, ironed and remade said beds all for nothing.
I am ashamed to admit to such slovenliness but this is the Daily Blog and my readers are
entitled to expect total honesty from me.
Today, however, I need to change the linen on the beds in both spare rooms in honour of the Eldest of the Darling Daughters and the Third Eldest Granddaughter coming
to stay. As I pull back the duvet on the single bed, last occupied by Young James, I find a sweet cuddly toy nestled beneath the covers.
It is a skinny, cream-coloured bear with beady black eyes, a bright
pink nose and a felt heart attached to its front declaring "Special Mum." As James, by no stretch of the imagination, can be considered a "mum", special or otherwise, I conclude that the loving bear must once have belonged to the Darling Daughter-in-Law but
gifted to her son for some reason. Possibly, I muse, she had suggested that it would be better to take this particular teddy, rather than a much-more-treasured toy with him on the family's recent visit just in case it was left behind in the packing. If this
was, indeed, the case then it shows great prescience on the part of the Darling Daughter in Law.
We made a similar decision when James's Dad was about his age now. We had already lost - and replaced - one
cuddly rabbit and couldn't face the trauma of another Tragic Loss. We were bound for France, staying at hotels on both our way down, and our way back, to and from the Dordogne. Too many opportunities to lose our son's most treasured toy (most treasured, that
is, after his Martin Chivers Super Football) and I was not confident that my school-girl French would be up to to the challenge in a local gendarmerie, should it become necessary to report it missing. In its place, therefore, our son insisted on taking a rather
large, golden elephant who went by the less than original name of Babar.
I still recall returning to our rooms in a rather special hotel in Vichy. Our nightclothes had all been laid out in readiness for bed
- the sleeves of Our Boy's Thomas the Tank Engine pyjamas, however, had been wrapped, lovingly, around his elephant. Mr B remembers this hotel experience for a different reason: the French maids in their tight black skirts, lacy aprons and crisp white hats.
I remember the old-fashioned, open lifts, all black wrought iron and creaking lifting gear. Each to his own reminiscence.
We still have Babar the elephant, Our Boy was amazed to discover. He was even more
amazed to hear that the rabbit is still with us too, though hidden away in the loft somewhere. He declared his intention of venturing into the loft on his very next visit to reclaim the Lost One. This particular bunny has great sentimental value: when its
owner had to wear a plaster over one eye in a bid to force a lazy eye to work, imaginative measures were called for. Hence, as immortalised in song:
"Lazy eye, doesn't want to work,
Lets the other eye do all the work,
So he's got a super patch -
And Bunny's got a patch to match!"
My Son and I
burst into song in unison. We were word perfect, almost forty years on. The Welsh Boys looked at us, singing away, as if we were quite, quite mad.
When I was Brown Owl (Brown Ale, the dads called me) of the
3rd Staplehurst Brownie Pack, I used to take the Brownies on Pack Holiday every year. A week or so before each holiday, I would hold a meeting at my home for all the parents to go over arrangements. Among other things, I would explain that every Brownie should
bring a cuddly toy with them. Even if they did not need the comfort of a toy in bed at night, the fact that everyone brought one meant those who would not be able to sleep without a furry friend would not feel embarrassed.
At which Mr B, listening in unashamedly to my homily, piped up: "But this year I'm not wearing those floppy ears!"
Mr B. My very own Teddy Bear.