I started, my glasses slipping off my head, the Saturday papers crumpling on my chest. I wiped a line of drool from my chin. I had only closed my eyes for a second after dinner. Just a second. The sunlight which warmed the conservatory glass had lulled me into an unplanned afternoon nap.
“DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAADDDDD!” The cry wasn’t as long this time, but it was more anguished. My daughter stamped into the house, a look of such childish frustration on her face that it was a huge effort not to laugh.
“What is it, pet?” I asked, stifling a yawn.
“HE took my teddies. HE made them have a WAR. Wars are for boys. My teddies DO NOT HAVE WARS!” she stamped her foot to emphasise the point.
He, of course, was my son, and her brother. But when she was infuriated with him like this, she would never call him by name.
I followed her out to the garden. It was carnage. Teddies were strewn everywhere, lying where they had been cut down in the heat of battle. The mastermind behind this bloodshed had already grown bored with the havoc he had wreaked. Now he was studying the grass by the back door with a frightening intensity.
We picked up the fallen reverently and I assured her that I would place them with the utmost care into the washing machine. “It will be as if they are having a day at the spa.”
I nudged him to apologise and her to accept, and as I loaded up the machine, I saw them gazing at ladybirds together.
I fancied, as I put in her favourite, long-serving companion, that there was a certain ruefulness in his plastic eye at the end of his military adventures.