by Anton Wills-Eve

Toy Story

my favourite toy


I lost my favourite toy when I was 68. I was gutted, totally washed out. My world was at an end, it really was. How on earth would I sleep without  Nou Nours. I mean big brown bears defend you from all sorts of things.

When I was just two and a half  my French god monther gave him to me to protect me from the Germans. I used to sleep with my head tucked behind him to protect me. And boy, did it work. Not a single bomb ever hit me. That was some bear.

Then when I was four  I was playing in the garden when a snake crawled on its belly towards me through the grass. But Nou Nours saw him first. He jumped off the top of my shoulder and landed so hard on the snake that it leaped and rolled all at once and actually fell into the water. I was so proud of brave Nou Nours that I gave him an extra helping of merigue at tea. Of course I had to eat it for him as bears aren’t allowed meringue.

But as I grew older he wasn’t forgotten. At sport he became my mascot. Surprisingly for a French bear he was a good cricket coach. I always batted with him tucked in my cricket top, just his eyes peeping out. But he could tell which way a ball was going to swing or spin and in some of my biggest innings he had a lot to do with my success. I even learned the French for, ‘I think the next one’s going to be a bouncer by the way he’s walking back’. “Je pense que le prochain un sera un boncement bal parceque le bowler a l’air tres malin”! And at rugby he really was a god send. I squashed him inside my jock strap and many a possibly unpleasant tackle awasn’t too bad at all.

But when I reached that age when a fairer attraction threatened to replace Nou Nours in my affections the fact that he was French turned out to be a blessing. One very pretty girl was only too pleased to get the come on from me but he was having none of it. “Mais, non, mon vieux. Elle est bien belle, d’accord, mais regarde sa bouche. Elle ne sait pais donner une grosse bise” If you think you’ve worked that out, you’re right. And if you’re lost, your imagination will be good enough. Actually she kissed like a wet dishcloth and I decided to take his advice in future.

It was when I was twentytwo that I saw a rather ordinary looking girl but she had something about her sad smile that made me feel sorry for her. I asked Nou Nours. He came and gave her the once over. His elbow was digged so painfully into my side that I looked up at him in suprise. He had a huge smile on his face and was nodding his head vigorously. “You sure?” I said in disbelief.

“Ba, mon ami. Pourqoui demander mon avis si tu ne le veux pas?” He had a point, so I found it easy, much to her surprise, to take her out to the cricket club party that weekend. She was certainly good, if very shy, company. But as the night wore on we realised we had started to like each other quite a lot. Actually an awful lot by four in the morning when I was asked in for a coffee as her parents were away that weekend. No, Nou Nours couldn’t have fixed that! Could he?

Any way Belinda was everything I wanted and it appeared I was rather high up on her delectable list too. This could have been why seven months later we got married.  The only serious problem we had on our honey moon was that Nou Nours jumped on to the bed and snuggled down between us. No way, “Eh, Nou Nours. What do you think you’re doing. Out!” As he grumled and growled his way out of the bed he remined me that after all he was a French bear and anyhow he thought he had to protect both of us!

Over the years Nou Nours suggested he might help play with the children and he went down a treat and was known to all three of our children as Daddy’s French bear. That was actually what Belinda called him when she first met him, you can see why she and I got on so well. It was getting off that was the problem. But the children thought Nou Nours might be lonely and found him a lovely English girl bear for company. She was called Lucy, but at first all he said was  “Une Anglaise! Mon Dieu, eh bien quand a Rome!” But she blushed next day and whispered in my ear that she now knew Nou Nours was French for Teddy Bear.

But years passed, which is what God invented them to do, when on a short weekend away together, we were both 68, Belinda discovered Nou Nours was not in the car. We were distraught. “Oh no”, she said, tears starting to trickle from her eyes, what shall we do?” We went back and hunted high and low to all the parts of the hotel where we had stayed, and retraced out steps on our walks, but all in vain. We were both inconsolable. We finally gave up and drove home. And there, in the hall way stood Nou Nours looking more cross than I had ever seen him.

“Eh alors! Je ne merite pas un weekend avec vous deux, quoi?” We’ld left him behind. Belinda hugged him harder and longer that I did,  but he forgave us as long as we never did it again. Well that was ten years ago, and he now has ten cubs and grand cubs, I won’t go through all their names. But we are just starting to get a bit forgetful, but do you know in all those ten years we  have never forgotten him, or Lucy or the kids or grand cubs even once!!

Anton Wills-Eve