"Mum, you can’t just have two skirts from a charity shop for Christmas” exclaimed Ailsa as we stood on the pavement outside Barnardo’s in

Stockbridge.  “Can’t you think of something else you’d like?”


I contemplated for a moment. The skirts were lovely and, really I didn’t need anything but if Ailsa was up for a challenge…


“Why not see if you can find me a teddy bear for my collection?” I suggested.


(I’m one of these slightly dotty dames you often see scrabbling through the soft toys in those exclusive boutiques like ‘Oxfam”, ”Save the Children “ and “Cancer Research” in search of interesting   teddies who’d appreciate a good home)


There was an audible groan from my long-suffering daughter.

“OK, I’ll try but don’t hold your breath”


We came home to Lismore for Christmas and Ailsa and David headed south to his parents.


The telephone rang on Boxing Day


“Mum, I’ve got you a bear. He’s gorgeous – just wait till you see him!!!”

“How lovely” I said, “Where did you find him?”

“He was in an Antiques Centre on a shelf. I looked at him and I knew he was just right for you!! 1”


My heart sank slightly. I’ve seen these bears and they cost money…. I just hoped she hadn’t spent too much.


D. J and I picked up Ailsa, David and our friend Douglas B. at Dunblane a few days later.


On the way home to Lismore in the car, I had a brief glimpse of a pair of furry ears and two bright boot- button eyes peeping out of a paper bag.


“His name’s Dagfield”, my daughter informed me, “and he’s got a letter for you.


Later, at home, we got properly acquainted.


He was about ten inches tall, with mohair fur and a very expressive little face. It wasn’t a placid, teddy bear face at all – more a fierce, assured and somewhat superior cast of countenance.


I opened his letter


“Dear Freda” I read

“Hello – my name is Dagfield  (of Dagfields). I am a bear of impeccable pedigree (and considerable intelligence) The exact year of my birth is shrouded in mystery – suffice it to say that I was a cub of the ‘30s, and, as such, am considerably older than you.


As a young cub I was drafted into the Royal Air Force – initially as an observer. I was part of Bomber Command and flew many missions into the heartland of the Reich.


On several missions our Lancaster was hit and we once had to ditch in the Channel. Fortunately I had commissioned a ted-sized Mae West from my tailor and so was able to remain afloat until help arrived.


Our finest hour came on 9th May 1942 when as part of the 617 Squadron, we carried out the “Dambuster Raid”. Those bouncing bombs did an excellent job! Unfortunately, during this mission our Lancaster suffered from extensive “flak” damage – one piece penetrated the aircraft and injured my left hind paw.


The rest of the lads were cool and collected – they bound me up and a new patch was sewn on as soon as we had limped back to Blighty.


I looked at his paw and, sure enough, there was a neat patch!!!

His letter continued as follows:


“And so it was that (after many more adventures), I ended up in a cabinet in an Antiques Centre where I was spotted by your daughter who persuaded me to move to Lismore.


To be honest, my dear, I did not think that I would move again and that my years of being useful were over – so I look forward to my new life and to meeting some of the splendid chaps I have heard about from Ailsa. One small request – I feel somewhat bereft without my uniform. Could you recommend a decent tailor?

With kind regards,



The “splendid chaps” Dagfield had heard about were obviously some of my collection who had recently given the Childrens’ Address at Lismore Church. !!!!!


“Well, “ I told him, ‘you’ll have to wait for your uniform until I can beg some material scraps from Sarah at “Mogwaii Designs”, but I’ll knit you a jumper and some trousers meantime….


Douglas, D.J. and I decided against going to the New Year Dance on the 2nd January and instead began to play whist (with a wee dram at our elbows)


“We need a fourth for the   dummy hand, “ said Douglas  “how about Jeeves?”    (Jeeves is our loopy Burmese cat)

“No chance!!” said D.J and I


Dagfield was sitting on the coffee table resplendent in his new gear so we popped him opposite Douglas and began play.


I sent a text to Ailsa, who was on her way to the dance.


“Dagfield says he came here for a quiet life and instead he’s got involved in a card game with three dodgy characters ”


Daughter responded with

“Don’t be fooled.  He’s an expert player and he’ll clean you all out”

We had a good laugh at that as the cards were dealt.


However, it soon became apparent that the bear had a good hand – an excellent one, in fact.


It was so outstanding that the little sod took thirteen tricks and trumped my ace!!!!!

Freda Drysdale

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