This is Humphrey

January 2, 2014 at 3:35 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments
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A teddy bear blog post triggers a wonderful reader response

A reader responds like never before.

I just received one of the most extraordinary reader responses of my entire blogging career.

It was triggered by this post and it came through privately via Facebook.

I was so overwhelmed by the quality, generosity and candour of Chris’ comment and accompanying pic that I sought his permission to reproduce them.

When he kindly agreed, I realised a separate blog post was the only way to properly honour his feedback.

So here’s what Chris wrote:

‘This is my childhood friend. His name is Humphrey and he’s a child of the 60s, like me.

Humphrey lives in my linen cupboard downstairs. Out of harm’s way, for my reassurance, and out of sight, for the benefit of the rest of the family.

He still wears the pants that I gave him at an early stage in his life; a Catholic household demands modesty. He bears the scars of more than a few hasty repairs, executed lovingly in a childish hand. Most of his fur has fallen out. In places his stuffing is poking out. His eyes wobble about alarmingly.

But he is still alive and his enigmatic smile reassures me that he is happy in his old age.

He smells a bit like all the places that I’ve lived in over the years, although mostly he smells like the big plywood box in which my family used to store the blankets. The box was big enough for two kids and a teddy to climb into, close the hinged lid, and hide from parents or go on an exciting but very comfortable expedition to places far away and mysterious.

This morning I showed each of my immediate family members Humphrey and asked them to describe him in one word. “Creepy’ said my daughter. “Scary” said my son. “Antique” said my wife with what amounted to a sympathetic tone, balancing her actual thoughts, what she gauged to be my feelings and her recognition of a loaded question.

Humphrey is not a Creepy Scary Antique. He’s the friend who like me relished the warmth of the sheets and blankets on the cold winter nights of my childhood. He was an excellent listener, shared many of my first experiences and feelings, and taught me that the answers to most of my questions could be found by looking inside myself. Never did a monster dwell under my bed in Humphrey’s presence.

After years of Humphrey’s company, my boyish adventures became more spirited and my independence and understanding of the world burgeoned. I began to wrestle with the question of at what age a boy should reasonably stop sleeping with his teddy. But I needn’t have worried. Humphrey knew well enough the answer to that question and when the time was right to take his leave. For some time after the initial separation he kept a daytime vigil, sitting on the bedspread and making sure I was alright. Then he moved to his permanent address in the wardrobe, and the wardrobes of all my homes that followed. From there he observed my progress and that of the friends and acquaintances that entered and sometimes disappeared from my life.

He’s still there in the wardrobe. Watching over me.’

I think this is an extraordinary piece of writing – on many levels.

I’m deeply grateful to Chris for sharing such a special recollection.

What say you?




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  1. It is an extraordinary piece of writing, because all of us who have such a friend, still guarding over us from the wardrobe, completely relate to this –
    Thank you Chris for vocalizing it 🙂

    • Thank you, Linda. I couldn’t agree more. I had wild thoughts yesterday of starting a compilation book called Blokes & Their Bears. Fonnie said I may have to workshop the title a tad for contemporary search engine trends. But just the fact that a man in his 40s can reveal his childhood friend gives me hope that there’s more to men than cars, beer, footy and wife bashing. Kind regards, P. 🙂

  2. Great blog post! Nice to meet you, “Humphrey”! My 23 year old son still keeps his Elmo proudly displayed (“Elmo is the man!”). My two daughters (all grown up, like my son) have “Mick” and “Baby Blue”…brought them to college where they quickly became their dorms’ mascots. (I recently confessed to my daughter that when she lost “Mick” when she was a very little girl, there really was no “” where I was oh so lucky to find him…I just went and found another “Mick,” dragged it through the dirt and pulled its tail off to replicate the original. She was soooo upset with me for that confession! But all is forgiven. LOL!!

    Happy New Year everyone!
    Warmest regards,

    • Thank you very much, Deb. It’s wonderful to welcome a new reader. Stories like yours add so much value to blogs like this. I’m very grateful for your entertaining share. Kind regards and please come back soon! P. 🙂

  3. Wow. That was extraordinary. Humphrey makes me want to cry. The only thing I’ve kept from my childhood is a diary I began at 10 years of age. I became sick of it half way through the year and stopped writing in it unlike my online ‘diary’ at the age of 53.

    • Welcome, PP! I’m so pleased you joined us. And that you feel the same about this piece. Everyone’s revelations have been so humbling, I’m really glad you’re along for the ride. Kind regards, P. 🙂

  4. Hi Paul,

    Happy New Year and I’m enjoying your blogging!

    A great story that was read to me by my wife who accessed through Facebook while we were away. Well done Chris, some powerful writing!

    It’s a fantastic story and one that moves us to think about where our childhood friends are; mine also resides in the wardrobe where he occasionally springs out when the door is opened (perhaps falls, I think he drinks).

    My Teddy, named after my grandfather Edward ‘Ted’ Boase who gave him to me the day I was born, has just turned 50. Still looking the goods, well stuffed and both eyes present, he resides over the relics of my past and has a secret friendship with, what is now, a terribly politically incorrect gollywog.

    Perhaps it’s time for them to finally come out of the closet, or wardrobe, to meet the next generation of our family, our grandson Logan, who also received a Teddy from his grandfather on the day he was born. I don’t think he named him after me, after all Malcolm would be a very unusual name for a bear.

    • By gum, WLBB, this thread just gets better and better! Thank you for reading and sharing. Your tale made me laugh out loud. I get the sense that things to do with life are circular. So if your teddy is up to the challenge, an intro to your youngest family may well be the go. Re names, I think Fred, Pooh and Paddington are far more suspect than Malcolm. Kind regards and thanks, as always, for your wonderful support! 🙂

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