Thursday, 19 June 2014
KID KLASSICS - LITTLE LOST BEAR ON A BEACH...
A small breeze blew in off the sea as I strolled along Portsmouth beach on a mid-evening in March, back in 1981. Gulls circled overhead, keen eyes peeled for edible tit-bits dropped by careless passersby, out for an idle wander (like myself) or a bracing 'constitutional' before returning home for a relaxing 'nightcap' prior to bedtime.
Turning my gaze from Neptune's watery domain, I was momentarily startled by what appeared to be a small body lying face down on the pebbles a little ahead of me. As I got nearer I could see it was a sopping wet Teddy bear which had been washed up by the tide, presumably having fallen overboard from some ship or ferry.
I stopped to observe his drenched and pitiful form and, I blush to confess, found myself (much to my surprise) feeling somewhat sorry for the little chap. I picked him up, noticing how heavy he was due to his immersion, and squeezed his purloined portion of ocean onto the beach. Then I sat him in a more comfortable position and studied his bedraggled face thoughtfully.
Was some heartbroken and inconsolable child at that very moment lamenting his loss and praying for his safe return? Or had poor ol' Ted been cast into the briny deep on the perverse whim of some capricious brat curious to see if he would float or sink? Who could say? There was no mistaking, however, that here was a fellow in need of a helping hand if ever there was one.
At some stage in his life Teddy had lost his eyes, whether as a result of his seafaring adventure or some previous misfortune I am unable to say. As he sat there, I could swear he was aware of my presence, too proud to beg, but listening intently, head slightly cocked, silently hoping that I would not forsake him. If I ignored this noble bear's unspoken plea, his likely destiny seemed either to be gathered unto the sea once more and consigned to its depths, or to end his span on a refuse tip when those responsible for maintenance of the beach spotted his unauthorised occupation.
A sense of shame fills my soul as I now recall my response to this poor creature's plight. I hardened my heart and turned my step in the direction of home, telling myself that he was too wet to carry, that my landlady wouldn't allow him on the premises, that I would be unable to find him a new owner on account of his blind and wretched condition. As I departed with crunching footsteps, I seemed to hear what sounded like a faint, sad sigh behind me.
Just for a moment my resolve weakened, but I managed to hold fast. However, something told me that this poor bear's existence should not go unrecorded; that there should be some kind of reminder of his short sojourn on Earth when, hopefully, he had once been loved and cherished and validated by the affections of a child whose life revolved solely around him. So I turned, beat down the nagging voice in my heart, and snapped a photo before abandoning this soggy, sorry, uncomplaining little bear to the encroaching gloom of evening.
Even today, over thirty years later, I sometimes find my thoughts returning to that little lost bear and hoping that a kinder person than myself gave him the good and loving home he deserved, and which I in my selfishness had denied him. Ashamed of my heartlessness, I seek a small measure of consolation in the hope that, regardless of his eventual fate, he would have under- stood and forgiven me for not being the good Samaritan that I should have been.
He just looked to be that sort of a bear.
(And, by the magic of technology, Ted has now been given a bit of a 'wash' and had his sight restored. Ahhh.)
Posted by Kid at Thursday, June 19, 2014