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 over-
head, keen eyes peeled for edible titbits dropped by careless passers-
by, 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 momen-
tarily 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 main-
tenance 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 exist-
ence 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 aban-
doning 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