Thompson’s Adventure

Now for something big.

 

I had a plan. It was simple because that’s how I like my plans. The plan failed and for that I am truly sorry. It was a great idea but it was dependent on my use of technology and sadly technology let me down. What did come of it was the following story. It is a departure from what I normally publish on this site but I liked it and wanted others to read it. It is my version of a ‘PG’ rated children’s story (hey I tried to write a poem) but hopefully can be read for the entertainment of all. It is long, very long and may require more than one sitting to complete. I hope you enjoy Thompson’s story and it isn’t too painful a read.

 

Legal Disclaimer

The following is based on an actual event that just recently occurred. It is a work of FICTION. Fiction meaning “I made it up!” Any similarities to actual people or specific events are purely coincidental and are not a result of creeping around people’s Facebook pages.

 

 

 

THOMPSON’S ADVENTURE

 

My name is Thompson.

 

I am a stuffed bear (not trying to fool anyone here, used to have a ‘made in China’ label sewn to my ass) and I am part of the Paddington collection. In a factory in Shang-hi I was wrapped in plastic and placed in a very large container along with many other bears dressed just like me.

 

“Where are we going?” I asked the other bears around me.

 

“The store,” they replied.

 

“We’re going shopping??” I was very excited, after all I was just a few hours old and already I was on my first adventure but the other stuffed animals just laughed at me.

 

“We’re not going shopping, we’re the merchandise people shop for!” they told me.

 

Okay well that kind of sucked. I didn’t want to sit on a store shelf, I was a Paddington bear and I was supposed to have adventures!

 

“Where is the store?” I asked the others.

 

“It depends how they dress you,” I was told, “You’re dressed like the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. So you’re going to Canada.”

 

“How am I getting there?”

 

“By boat,” I was told.

 

Hmmm… I’m on my way to another country… on a boat… just like the real Paddington. I can work with this! Instead of a bear stowing away on a boat from Peru to England, I will be a bear that arrives in Canada on a boat from China! And when I get there I will have adventures!!!

 

The next few days were a blur. We (all the other stuffies and me) were scooped, tossed, kicked and smooshed down into boxes, loaded on trucks and driven to the docks. There was unloading and more tossing, and re-loading until we came to rest in the hold of the ship in a big metal crate.

 

The sea voyage was rough. I was okay for the most part, it’s hard to get sick when your face is rammed up another bears butt, but the giraffes in the next box were losing it. I could hear retching and coughing and moaning the whole time. We landed in Canada and there was more unloading and tossing and kicking and re-loading until finally the box I was crammed into was opened and I was dumped onto the floor in a warehouse along with the rest of the stuffies.

 

“What’s this place?” I asked the bear beside me.

 

“Sorting,” was the reply. “You’re going into another box to be sent to a store somewhere in Canada.”

 

“Like down the street?”

 

The bear beside me laughed. “Canada’s 6521 kilometers wide,” he said “I doubt you’re just going down the street. You’re probably on your way to some remote store in the North-West Territories or worse… Regina!!”

 

He was laughing hysterically at the moment he was grabbed and tossed into a box on a conveyor belt and disappeared from sight never to be seen again. My turn came and I too got tossed into to a passing box and landed face to face with one of the giraffes from the trip. Good thing we were in plastic bags, his had stuffing all over the inside of his.

 

“Got a breath mint?” he asked.

 

“No.” I didn’t know what else to say! Why would I have a breath mint? I didn’t have real pockets!!

 

We lapsed into uncomfortable silence as other stuffies were added to our rather small box and it wasn’t long before the smooshing began again. The top was shut and sealed. I could hear the packers talking.

 

“Where’s this one going?” one said to the other.

 

“Regina, Saskatchewan,” was the reply.

 

There was a collective moan from the other stuffies in my box.

 

“What’s wrong with Regina?” I asked the giraffe.

 

“It’s like stuffed-toy hell,” he replied. “Once you get to the store shelves you sit there forever. No one buys stuffed toys in Saskatchewan. If you’re lucky you get to go to a large toy store where some two-year old will see you and want you but there aren’t many of those in Regina.”

 

“What if you’re not lucky?” I asked.

 

“Then you get sent to the airport to be sold as a souvenir to the tourists. Problem is that not too many tourists travel to Regina. We’ll probably be stuck in this box for some time.” He looked sad. “My name’s Ralph.”

 

“I’m Thompson,” I replied with a smile. “I’m pleased to meet you.”

 

In case anyone is curious the airport code for Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada is YQR.

 

****

 

It took eight months for me to be removed from the box and my plastic bag and be placed on a shelf alongside a variety of other stuffed toys. I introduced myself and it was not long before we were all acquainted. Many of them had been on this shelf for quite some time, in some cases many years.

 

“They only put one of each of us on the shelf at a time,” Daisy the dragon told me, “Like I’m the only dragon on the shelf.”

 

“I’m not the only bear,” I said to her. “Dudley is a bear and he’s dressed like the Mounties do too.”

 

“Yes but he has the right hat on,” she explained, “You have a floppy hat on, not the correct Mounties hat.”

 

“I’m a Paddington bear,” I told her in no uncertain terms. “It’s a trademark hat.”

 

“Yeah… about that Thompson,” she said. “No one around here knows who Paddington Bear is. If you were part of the Winnie the Pooh collection you’d be okay but most people just think the factory made a mistake with your hat.”

 

“How do you know this?” I was incensed.

 

“Because Milt, the bear you’re replacing was here longer than any of us and people kept saying that the hat was wrong and would buy the Mountie that looked like Dudley.”

 

“Well someone bought him.” I was starting to feel distraught.

 

“No Thompson, they threw him out because after ten years he was too faded.”

 

This news was devastating. Was the hope I had of going on an adventure going to end on the shelf of an airport? Was I destined to just watch people as they boarded airplanes and travelled to distant places, never getting a chance to do so myself. Every time anyone would approach my shelf my heart would race and then break when they bought the sno-globe on the shelf below me or worse, Dudley.

 

****

 

For many months I sat propped on the store shelf and watched as other merchandise and stuffies were purchased and left the store. One day a young couple came into the airport store and were all excited about going on their honeymoon. The pretty young women was so excited that she even picked me up off the shelf and held me for a few moments giving me a hug. Was this it? Was I finally leaving the store? She put me back when the man she was with told her it was time to go. So close.

 

“What’s a honeymoon?” I asked Daphne dragon, who had replaced Daisy a while back.

 

“It’s a vacation for newlyweds. You know, people who have just had their wedding,” she told me.

 

I had heard the others talk about weddings before, every time the new Brides magazine would come to the store. It was a celebration that people did. There was a ceremony followed by eating, drinking, dancing, more drinking and even some singing occasionally. It sounded like a place where a bear like me could have an adventure.

 

“I’d like to go to a wedding.” I said to Daphne. Truth was I’d like to go anywhere. Sitting on this shelf was boring and after a year of existence I was ready for just about anything. The other stuffies just laughed at me.

 

“Fat chance of you ever going to a wedding,” Morris the moose said to me. “The best you might get is to a baby shower and that is unlikely because you’re a souvenir bear not a play toy.”

 

“Why would that matter? I’m cute and cuddly.” I was starting to get angry.

 

“You’re also dressed like a Canadian police officer,” Morris replied. “People don’t give stuffed police bears as baby gifts and they sure don’t give stuffed anything as wedding gifts.”

 

Once again this news sent me into a spiralling depression. I was doomed to these shelves until I faded like Milt and was sent to the trash bin. My thoughts of going to a wedding became the butt of everyone’s jokes. If I had had tear ducts I would have cried.

 

****

 

Ralph the giraffe appeared on the shelf one day. He smiled at me, obviously grateful to finally be out of his bag and the box in the back.

 

“Hello Ralph,” I said to him.

 

“Hey Thompson, you’re still here? I thought you’d be out having an adventure by now. Just like Paddington bear.” The other toys snickered at his comment. He looked confused, “What did I miss?”

 

“Well,” said Harry the hippo, never one to miss out on an opportunity to slam me. “Thompson here has decided that his Paddington adventure will be to go to a wedding.”

 

“You can choose where you go?” Ralph asked in all honesty.

 

All the other toys laughed loudly, even I smiled. The newbies always asked that sort of question when they come out of the box in the back.

 

“No pencil neck,” Harry said, “you go where the first crying 3 year-old takes you. Which is probably home where they’ll hug the snot out of you for a week then lose you under the bed where the spiders will crawl all over you.”

 

“Don’t listen to him.” I said to Ralph. “He’s always like that.”

 

A week later Ralph was taken off the shelf by a woman who gave him to a little girl with tear streaked cheeks.

 

“Now stop crying,” the mother said to the little girl. “Were getting on the plane real soon and if I get you this I don’t want you to be making a fuss.”

 

“Okay mommy, I won’t.” The little girl squeezed Ralph so hard that I think his eyes bulged and gave her mother a brilliant smile.

 

“Atta go Ralph, you’re a bribe toy!” Harry the hippo shouted at Ralph as he was taken to the register, “Just so you know, spiders have eight legs! The ones with six legs are the roaches!!”  The other toys all laughed. Many of them were becoming bitter over the length of their stay on the shelf.

 

“Be quiet Harry,” I said. The last I saw Ralph the giraffe he was headed out of the store in the death clutch of the little girl.

 

****

 

Time once again passed and the only way I came off the shelf was to be dusted. Until one day a man in a suit came rushing in and went to the clerk at the counter.

 

“I’m looking for,” he unfolded a small piece of paper and read from it, “bear… dressed like a lumberjack or RCMP officer.” He shoved the note back in his suit pocket.

 

“Over there.” The clerk responded pointing my direction.

 

The man came over and inspected the shelf I was sitting on. He picked me up and held me up to the clerk, “Have you got one with the proper hat?” It was the story of my life. I was ready for the inevitable until I heard the clerk say.

 

“Sorry just sold the last Dudley Do Right a few days ago; I can look in the box in the back for you but I think we’re waiting for a new supply.”

 

The man in the suit brought me to the counter and placed me down beside the register. “This will have to do.” He said looking at his watch. “I’m due to meet with the vice-president of my company’s plane in 30 minutes. I need to go.”

 

“No problem,” the cashier said as she picked me up and scanned the tag attached to my butt with a laser beam.

 

“Gift for your kid?” She asked the man in the suit pleasantly.

 

“No,” he replied, “colleague at work needs it for a wedding gift.”

 

My eyes went wide and if I had a bladder I’d have peed myself in delight. Harry who had been taunting me for being a ‘will have to do’ purchase fell silent from the shelf. I was ecstatic!! Not only was I leaving the store with the box of stuffies in the back, I was going to a wedding!! I was placed in a bag and as I left the store I raised my arm over its top and gave Harry, ‘the paw’. It may have been rude but I couldn’t resist.

 

I was finally on an adventure, one that would end with me at a wedding. The man hurried down the concourse. He was obviously confused; the exit door was the other way. He stopped, looked at his watch and sat down on a nearby bench, placing my bag and his briefcase next to him.

 

He looked down at me in the bag. “What am I going to do with you for the day?”

 

“How about take me to your colleague so… well I don’t know… I could go to a wedding!!” I thought at him.

 

I guess I shouldn’t have been so sarcastic because the next thing I know he opened his briefcase, moved his computer and papers to one side, took me still in my bag, and smooshed me down on the other side and closed the lid. Oh great, I’m back wrapped in plastic inside another damn box!! The only light I saw all day was when the case was opened to remove one of the items in there with me, and when it was put back. I had been moving around all day, mostly in the trunk of a car, but I had no way of knowing where I was. Finally at the end of a very long day the case was opened wide and I was removed. Looking around I knew right away where I was, I was back in the Regina Airport!!

 

I could see the store where I had spent the last year of my life. It was closed for the day but all the other toys were looking right at me. I don’t know what he was saying because I was too far away but I could tell Harry was screaming something about ‘winning something’ through the glass walls. All the other stuffies were laughing, so I knew whatever he said wasn’t very nice. I gave him ‘the paw’ for a second time that day as I was placed in a tray and sent down the belt at security.

 

It was not very nice of me but I had spent an entire day travelling around the countryside locked in a case and when I finally get loose, I’m right back where I started.  I’m sorry to say my anger got the best of me and I would have to do my best not to let it happen again. The first day of my adventure had been a bust but I was still on the move to…

 

“Winnipeg!!! Are you kidding me?!!?” I couldn’t believe what I was seeing on the sign at the boarding gate. Winnie the Pooh was named after that city!! Pooh is every Canadian kid’s favorite bear!!! I’m going to a wedding in Winnie the Pooh country??? I’m a Paddington bear, I do English train stations not Winnipeg weddings!!! I was beside myself as I was shoved in the overhead compartment and the door closed.

 

****

 

Not willing to let this turn of events impede my adventure, I calmed myself down determined to make the best of my new life as a Paddington bear in Winnipeg. I spent the first night in the trunk of another car. I knew I was in Winnipeg, I could smell Pooh everywhere. The next day I was taken to an office and given to the woman at the front desk.

 

“What’s this?” she asked the man in the suit.

 

“It’s for Shane, he’ll pick it up the next time he’s in the office,” he replied.

 

She took me out of the bag and looked me over. “He’s so cute!” she exclaimed and gave me a hug. Rather than put me back in the bag, she set me prominently on her desk. Over the next few days people would ask the woman what was the deal with the bear.

 

“He’s a gift,” she would reply, “isn’t he cute?”

 

“What’s wrong with his hat?” they always asked.

 

“Nothing,” she would reply indignantly, “He’s a Paddington bear. Didn’t your mother read you the stories about him when you were little?”

 

The reply was always the same, “No she read me Winnie the Pooh stories.” Damn silly bear!

 

At least the woman knew who I was and she seemed quite pleased with having me as company. When colleague Shane finally arrived to pick me up she seemed sad to see me go.

 

“Is he a present for your grandson?” she asked colleague Shane.

 

“No,” he replied as he held me up and looked me over, “actually he’s a wedding present. We’re friends with the parents of the bride, it’s an inside joke.” He held me up and gave me a once over. “It’s perfect that he’s a Paddington bear.”

 

“You know Paddington bear?” the woman behind the desk exclaimed. “No one else around here has the faintest idea who Paddington is.”

 

“Sure I do,” colleague Shane said as he looked me in the eye, “Peruvian bear stows away on a ship, lands in England, lives near Paddington station and has adventures. My mother read me the stories when I was young. I’m not from Winnie the Pooh country.”

 

“Me either,” the woman behind the desk said.

 

“Yes, it’s rather appropriate he’s a Paddington bear because he’s headed home,” colleague Shane said.

 

The woman behind the desk gave colleague Shane a puzzled look.

 

“The weddings in England,” he told her as he put me back in the bag she had produced from below her desk. “Be sure to thank the boss for getting him for me.”

 

England!!! Did colleague Shane just say England??? Could this really be happening to me?? I love this guy!!! Like a bladder, I don’t have bowels, but if I did…! I was going to a wedding in England!! The other stuffies on the shelf at the airport in Regina won’t believe it. This would shut that loud-mouth Harry up forever! I just hit the jackpot in Winnie the Pooh country!!!

 

“Good bye little bear,” the woman behind the desk said as she waved farewell to me. I was about to wave back but realized at the last moment that she might think I was giving her ‘the paw’ and thought better of it. She had been very nice to me.

 

I was put into the front seat of a truck and driven out into the countryside. The smell of Pooh diminished as we left the city. Even though I was now in the province of Manitoba it appeared to quite similar to the brief glimpses I’d seen of Saskatchewan. Maybe Canada all looks like this once you’re out of the city, blue skies, vast fields and look there’s a cow!! I was so happy with the knowledge of what lay ahead that everything around me looked beautiful.

 

We arrived at the home of colleague Shane and I was brought inside, removed from my bag and placed in front of a blonde woman.

 

“Meet Thompson. What do you think Honey?” colleague Shane asked his wife.

 

“He’s perfect,” she said with a smile. “He’s even dressed for a wedding.”

 

“Good,” said colleague Shane, then picked me up, put me back in my bag and put me on the shelf in the hall closet and shut the door. Ah, come on!! Do I really need to be on a shelf again??? The answer was obviously yes, because that is where I sat for the next month.

 

****

 

One day the door to the closet was opened and I was taken down from the shelf. Colleague Shane placed me on the table beside a small box.

 

“I think he’ll fit,” he said to Honey as he placed me inside the box and tucked my arms inside. “Perfect,” he declared.

 

Perfect!?? Are you serious?? You’ve squeezed me into a coffin!! My legs were scrunched, my arms wedged and my chin was on my chest. I couldn’t fart if I was able too! The only thing colleague Shane hadn’t done to get me inside was… Oh Damn… he smooshed me down and closed the lid.

 

I remained on the dining table for the next week as Honey debated on how to best wrap me. Turns out she is a very crafty woman and simple wrapping paper would not do. She had at least opened my lid so I wasn’t as cramped. When the day came for me to be wrapped colleague Shane removed me from my coffin and cut the tags off my ass. He then placed a small sign on my chest before replacing me into my coffin and of course there was smooshing.

 

I was wrapped and set back on the table and left there for mailing. It was dark but at least I could hear what was being said around me. Most of the conversations were garden variety house talk, then one day I heard colleague Shane talking about me.

 

“I’m not sure about this,” he said to Honey.

 

“Not sure about what?” she asked.

 

“Not sure about sending Thompson to the wedding. We don’t even know the doctor duo.” He said to her. “What if they don’t find the idea of a Canadian wedding crasher very funny?”

 

Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, back this bus up! Did he say wedding crasher? You mean I’m not even invited to the wedding?? You don’t know the people getting married??? Isn’t it bad enough that you’re sending me to a foreign country with the tags cut off my butt ensuring a body cavity search at customs but you’re sending me to total strangers! As a gift!! What stupid tree did you fall out of???

 

I strained to read the sign hanging around my neck. I could barely make out the first two lines, ‘My name is Thompson. I have come to this wedding from Canada, eh.’ ‘Eh’? Wow, that’s original.

 

“It’ll be fine,” I could hear Honey saying, “If Dee-Dee is anything like Ginger I’m sure she’ll find it funny. I don’t know how The Earl will like the idea but I’m sure Thompson will be received in the vane we intend.”

 

“Yeah, I guess,” colleague Shane said, “I’m just worried that they may think having a stuffed bear crash their wedding is childish and in poor taste. If this was a local wedding I wouldn’t worry, but they’re British and I wouldn’t want to offend anyone.”

 

What is the deal with this guy? Did he hit every branch on the way down the stupid tree??? They’re the British! The people that gave us Benny Hill and Monty Python!! They invented childish behaviour!!! Listen to your wife, it will be fine. I’m cute and adorable, just get me there and I’ll do the rest. Do I have to get out of this coffin and take away your man card?!!! Take me to the post office already!!!

 

“You’re right, the worst that can happen is they won’t like him and just throw him in the closet and never mention the whole affair.” They both laughed. “You wrap it and I’ll send it tomorrow.”

 

****

 

The next day I was picked up off the table and I heard Honey call colleague Shane some very adult four-letter words for forgetting me. She placed me in a bag and took me out the door. I was soon placed on a counter and I heard Honey say, “I want to send this to England.”

 

“Air or ground?” the post person asked Honey. “Or in this case water.”

 

Water? As in another cargo ship?? Please Honey in the name of all that is good and decent in the world, DON’T PUT ME ON ANOTHER SHIP!!!

 

“What’s the difference?” Honey asked the post person.

 

“Ground is delivery within 24 days and Air is 7 days and $30 more.” Post person explained.

 

Oh please… please… pleeeeeeeeease…

 

Honey picked my box up and put it close to her lips and whispered “Goodbye Thompson, good luck and have a good time.”  She then handed me across the counter to the post person. “Air,” she said.

 

If I had tear ducts… I would miss Honey; she too had always been nice to me.

 

Later that day I was put on a truck and brought back to the city of Pooh and delivered to the airport. This time instead of being brought onto the plane and stowed in the people cabin, I was put into a shipping container and stowed in the bottom of the aircraft. Okay this was starting to resemble my boat experience! We went up, we went down and my container was removed from the plane to be placed onto another.

 

“Where’s this crate going?” I heard one of the airport workers ask.

 

“Gate 26,” was the reply. “British Airways, headed to Gatwick, England.”

 

If I hadn’t been so jammed into my box I’d have been doing a happy dance right at that moment. I was headed to England, land of Paddington where I too was going to have an adventure; I was going to a wedding.

 

****

 

When you’re scrunched inside a box, the British mail service feels just like the Canadian one. There is shoving and tossing and piling. You’re placed in one truck then another until you finally end up at your destination. Which in my case was some place called the Dairy Farm. Oh good more cows, I wonder if they moo with an accent?

 

“Oh my, it’s a parcel from Canada,” I heard a woman say as she took my box from the post person.

 

“Who’s it from Mum?” asked another female voice.

 

“It’s from Shane; it’s addressed to Dee-Dee.” The first woman said. She held the box out so the other could see.

 

Since I had heard Honey and colleague Shane talk about their friends from England and I am not a stupid toy, I deducted that the first voice was Ginger and the second was probably Gypsy, Ginger and the Earl’s youngest daughter.

 

“Dee-Dee won’t be here for a week. The package says it should be opened immediately.” Gypsy said to her mother.

 

“Put it on the table,” Ginger told Gypsy, “and we’ll ring Dee-Dee later and be sure she doesn’t mind if you and I open it.”  I was placed on a table. Both women disappeared and for some time the only sounds I heard were from outside. It was not until much later that I was noticed.

 

“What’s this then?” a booming voice called out as my box was picked up and given a shake. I didn’t need to be a world-class detective to know that I was being held by the Earl.

 

“What’s what, dear?” Ginger said as she entered the room. “Oh damn, I forgot about that. I need to ring Dee-Dee and tell her it’s here and I should send a message to Canada as well.”

 

“It says to open immediately.” The Earl told her.

 

“Yes, I did happen to notice that.” Now it could just have been the accent but I do believe there was a touch of sarcasm in Ginger’s tone.

 

“Are you going to?” the Earl asked.

 

“Am I going to what?”

 

“Open it,” he said and I heard him start to pick at the tape.

 

That’s right man, go for it! Open immediately, means right now!! Tear away my packaging and set me free. I had been crammed in this box for six days and I had stopped being even remotely comfortable after the first day.

 

“No it’s addressed to Dee-Dee.” Ginger said to the Earl. He stopped picking.

 

“But it says to open immediately.” The Earl sounded like he was pleading. I knew that tone, colleague Shane used it a lot.

 

“Yes but it doesn’t say to be opened by you immediately. It’s addressed to your daughter.”

 

“But it’s just the outer wrapping, surely the gift will be wrapped inside,” the Earl countered.

 

“That it might be,” there was finality in her voice, “but the outer wrapping that is to be ‘opened immediately’ is addressed to Dee-Dee.”

 

There was no way that the Earl was going to win this argument, I had heard Honey and colleague Shane have the same kind of discussions… he never won either.

 

“Well are you going to?” the Earl asked again.

 

“Am I going to what?” Ginger replied… again.

 

“Call Dee-Dee,” the Earl said in a quieter voice. When I get out of here your man-card is mine buddy!

 

I was placed back on the table. Ginger and the Earl must have left, hopefully to make the call that would grant them permission to release me. A short while later I heard someone enter and they picked me up and started to remove my wrapping.

 

“What are you doing? That’s addressed to Dee-Dee,” said The Earl from across the room.

 

“I know,” Gypsy replied, “but it says to be opened immediately.”

 

“Yes, but by the person that it is addressed to, which is Dee-Dee.” He sounded firm voiced again knowing he was speaking from the side of right.

 

What is with this guy?? Ten minutes ago he was picking at the paper and now he’s found some high moral ground!! Your card is so mine!!!

 

“I know. I already talked to her. She said to open it.” Gypsy continued to un-wrap me. You go girl!! I could feel the wrapping being removed, my time was finally here!!!

 

“See the gift is wrapped,” Gypsy said to her father. Oh No!!! I’m double wrapped!! Damn you Honey!!! “There’s a card and a letter addressed to Dee-Dee. The letter says to open before the wedding.”

 

“Well open it,” the Earl said.

 

“It’s addressed to Dee-Dee,” Gypsy replied.

 

“But it says to open before the wedding,” the Earl pointed this out to his daughter. Oh no, please don’t go there; it didn’t work out well for you the first time.

 

“I’m not daft, I can read, but it says to be opened by Dee-Dee before the wedding not you and I!” She placed me back on the table.

 

There was silence, I could imagine the two of them staring each other down. Then I heard the Earl say, “I’ll see what your mum says.” I heard him leave the room. Don’t forget to bring me your man-card when you come back Earl!!!

 

Gypsy too must have left the room because I could hear voices from the next room, one I was sure was hers. They were laughing and I thought I heard the word Canada and something about the wedding but it was all a bit far away to be sure. This went on for some time until I heard the Earl’s voice get closer.

 

“…that will be fine darling. No I don’t mind waiting to open up Thompson until you get here next week.” Next week!! Seriously you’re going to leave me smooshed in this little box for another week???  I heard you say my name… you know I’m in here… show a brother some compassion!!! You’re the Earl for cryin’ out loud!! Assert some authority!!!

 

“I’ll just put him on the mantle ‘til then,” He said to his daughter as he set me in my new home. “I love you precious. Bye-bye.” What was that? Did the Earl just blow kisses at the phone??  Really Dude? Have you ever owned a man-card???

 

I spent the next week waiting patiently on the mantle for the bride-to-be to finally arrive and release me.

 

****

 

“Thompson’s on the mantle, dear” I heard Ginger call out one day.

 

“Got ‘im!” I was snatched from my perch and brought to the table. “It’s so nicely wrapped…  It’s a shame to open it.” It was Dee-Dee and she was un-wrapping me! The day had finally come for me to actually see England, and to have England see me.

 

I hope that two weeks in this box hasn’t made me malformed, I thought to myself. What if they don’t like me? What if they do think I’m childish? They could throw me in the closet or worse toss me in the trash! It’s not like they were expecting me, I was starting to panic; it was the moment of truth, will I be welcomed or am I headed for a British landfill? I sucked it up and prepared myself for what was to come no matter what I was keeping my card.

 

Light once again filled my world as the lid of the box was opened. Thankfully my face expanded to its proper proportions and my head came off my chest. I stared at her, she stared at me.

 

“Let’s see.” I heard Ginger say. I was tilted and now I could see all three of the women’s faces. Their eyes were identical and after a moment of silence that if I had lungs I would have held my breath through, they all smiled at me. I smiled back.

 

“He’s so adorable!” Dee-Dee exclaimed

 

“Take him out of the box so we can see what he looks like,” Gypsy said to her sister. I am really liking this girl!!

 

Dee-Dee took me from my box and my stuffing let out a sigh of relief. My uniform had a crease and my hat needed a little readjusting but for the most part I had survived my journey in flying colours. The women passed me around and each said “Hello Thompson,” and Ginger added “welcome to our home.” I love these people!!!

 

The rest of the day I spent on the kitchen table in the middle of the conversation, which was pretty much centered on Dee-Dee’s upcoming wedding. Weddings, I learned, are very elaborate affairs. Everything needs to be planned right down to the doilies. Where people sit, when people sit, what people eat, when people eat, where people speak, when people speak and on and on. There sure seemed to be a lot of rules at a wedding.

 

Every so often one of the women would pick me up and give me a squeeze, telling me how cute I was. This home was warm and inviting and so were the people who lived there. I was very much going to like being at the Dairy Farm.

 

“You must be Thompson,” a voice boomed from behind. I was picked up and spun around so I was face-to-face with the Earl. If I had had any internal organs what-so-ever something would have let loose, the man scared the be-geezers out of me! He gave me the once over through bushy eye-brows and was about to pronounce judgement when Dee-Dee came up and gave him a hug.

 

“Isn’t he adorable?” she said to the Earl as she rescued me from his grasp and gave me a hug that demonstrated to her father how I was to be treated.

 

“He is that,” the Earl said to Dee-Dee smiling down at her.

 

“Come on daddy and take a look at some of the flower arrangements we’ve picked out.” She placed me back on the table and took her father’s hand leading him away.

 

That evening when the family sat down to dinner I was placed back on the mantle, this time sans box, and there I would stay for the next few weeks. It was great!! I had a view of both the dining and sitting rooms, and there were two windows directly across from me. Look, a cow!! It wasn’t the same as sitting on the shelf in a store, where people ignored me. These people acknowledged me and made me feel like I belonged. They would say “Good Morning Thompson,” or “Good evening Thompson,” when they passed me by. Even the Earl would give me the occasional nod and “hmmpft” when no one else was around; I think the man was starting to warm-up to me.

 

The very best thing about sitting on the mantle at the Dairy Farm those first few weeks was that there was laughter in the house. Dee-Dee, Gypsy, Ginger and even if he tried not to show it, the Earl were happy people. Being there on that mantle gave me a feeling inside that matched my outside… warm and fuzzy.

 

****

 

It seemed to me, that after a few weeks of watching the family up close and personnel like I had been, that Ginger was in charge of all things wedding. Everything to do with anything went through Ginger. “Ginger, do you think we should…?” or “Mum, would it be alright if…?” Ginger was the final authority. She consulted with Dee-Dee trying her best to accede to her daughter’s wishes but if there was a disagreement between the two, Ginger usually won. I liked this woman; she probably had a whole drawer full of man-cards.

 

With only ten days to go until the wedding things on the Dairy Farm started to really ramp up. I sat on the mantle watching through the window as Ginger gave instructions to the workers who were readying the grounds where the dinner and party was to be held. The workers of course were Gypsy and the Earl.

 

“We need to put up some rope along that ridge,” she was telling them, “someone is bound to fall down the hill if we don’t.”

 

“Yes mum, we know.” Gypsy said back in a less than friendly tone.

 

Gypsy was struggling with the mower, the grass was growing rapidly. I heard that was because the Earl had spread too much fertilizer over the area and even though it was moving towards fall, the grass was growing like it was spring.

 

Ginger ignored her daughter and starred at the Earl until he finally acknowledged the request with “Yes Ginger, I know,” then she came inside.

 

Boxes with table cloths, vases, cutlery and dishes were now stacked in the dining room and the table was scattered with all the papers Ginger was constantly scouring through as she tried to keep things organized. Dee-Dee had returned to her home in London to continue her doctor work, so all the immediate decisions fell to Ginger.

 

“Never again Thompson,” she said to me, “the next one is eloping.”

 

Ginger had taken to talking to me quite a bit in the last few days when we were alone. I was more than happy to listen but could do no more than smile at her. At least she wasn’t talking to herself right? She spent hours poring over her lists, calling merchants to arrange deliveries of flowers and food and she talked to Dee-Dee every day.

 

“Yes dear I know it’s hard,” she was always saying to Dee-Dee, “but you need to decide, it’s your wedding not mine.”

 

Ginger would listen to the reply.

 

“Yes that’s fine,” she would start writing and then circling and drawing arrows as she listened to Dee-Dee. “No we already decided that we would sit Uncle Clayton and his fourth wife with the Willington’s from down the road and their six children.” More listening. “Yes but Aunt Celia, Clayton’s first wife will be there, and it would be best to keep those two as far apart as possible.”  Listening. “Right then, that’s decided.” Ginger then would start underlining what she had just written down repeatedly as the conversation continued.

 

One day Ginger telephoned Dee-Dee to give her some bad news.

 

“There seems to be a small issue with you leaving the church after the wedding. One of Simon’s horses has taken ill and the carriage we were going to have you leave in needs two horses to pull it.” Ginger said then waited listening to her daughter’s reply.

 

“No, it seems that you can’t just strap another horse to the carriage. The horses need to work together and there’s no time to train a new one, we’ll have to come up with a new plan.” Dee-Dee said something and Ginger got a little huffy. “No, my daughter is not going to leave the church on a beautiful carriage pulled by two cows!” There was a pause, and I saw Ginger relax a bit. Score one for mom. “Yes, the old cart would work with one horse but it is currently full of the manure that your father is using to fertilize with. Maybe we should think of something that doesn’t involve livestock.”

 

The conversation went on and I honestly tuned out, I already knew Ginger had something in mind until I heard “… So we’ll clean up the ‘Noddymobile’ and use that then.”

 

Did she Naughty-mobile? You’re putting newlyweds on something called a naughty-mobile?!!? In public?!!? And you think using cows is a bad idea?!!! I trusted Ginger’s decisions but this one left me more than a little worried that she was becoming a bit unhinged.

 

Ginger ended her conversation with Dee-Dee. She placed her phone down onto the table, sat back and looked at me. She looked weary. I felt bad for her.

 

“I’m never going to make it Thompson,” she said to me as she rose from the table and made her way to the kitchen.

 

I smiled back, “Yes you will,” I thought to her, “you are strong, you are a warrior.” It’s what the aboriginal toys use to say at the airport store in Regina every time one of us got sold. I don’t know what it means but it sounded right for the moment.

 

****

 

The marquee, which is a very large tent in Britain, arrived at the Dairy Farm the same day as Dee-Dee returned. The pieces were stacked outside my window to be assembled the next day. Only six days remained until the wedding. The final preparations were at hand.

 

Putting up the tent was a major undertaking. It involved many people; Ginger, Dee-Dee, Gypsy and the Earl were all there, as well as at least three of the Earl’s mates from the pub. Ginger had them unroll the canopy and she measured it, then she walked to the area where the tent was to be erected and measured that placing a small stick at each of the corners. She then walked to the middle of the space.

 

“Lay the center post here,” she told those assembled, “and the corner posts beside those sticks.” She pointed to the corners. Ginger had it in control, she held the instructions in her hand and it wasn’t until she said “these damn instructions are in Punjab!” that I started to worry.

 

It didn’t take long before a small crowd of neighbours appeared to watch the construction taking place in the yard of the Dairy Farm. Some joined in to help because that’s what neighbours do but most just stood and watched yelling out advice and encouragement because that’s also what neighbours do.

 

“You all need to push up at the same time!” one old-timer bellowed.

 

“Hush-up Horace,” the woman beside him said, giving him a smack on the arm. “They are doing just fine without your help. Ginger has it in control.”

 

That she did. I could hear her belting out commands to the crew. “Thomas and Lloyd get under the canopy and hook the center pole to the middle and when I say, lift it up… no, the other Thomas, the young strong one.” She recruited from the crowd anyone she needed and it wasn’t long before the Earl’s pub mates were relegated to spectators.

 

“We can’t find the middle,” a muffled voice came from under the tent.

 

“Go give the men some assistance,” Ginger said to Gypsy. Gypsy scampered under the tent’s edge and disappeared.

 

“Got it,” Gypsy yelled moments later.

 

“Alright,” Ginger called to them, “raise the pole! The rest of you pull backwards as the center rises!!”

 

The center went up, and then started to lean.

 

“More tension on the right,” Ginger commanded. The tent started to fold in and the center post started to fall as tension on the one side slackened.

 

“Who’s in that corner?” Ginger called out pointing to the far side of the half erected tent.

 

“It was Lionel,” the man on the closest corner to Ginger replied.

 

“He slipped and fell down the hill,” a spectator with a view of that corner said.

 

Never one to miss a beat, Ginger ordered another man to that corner before yelling, “Lionel dear, are you alright?”

 

“I think so,” was the faint reply.

 

“Please go down and see if he’s okay,” Ginger said to Dee-Dee who dashed around the tent and down the hill.

 

“Alright then,” she said returning to the task at hand, “Corners pull out.”

 

After three hours the marquee was finally up and relatively straight. It had been very hard work and on more than one occasion some very adult language had been used. In the end though everyone had been smiling and laughing and Lionel had only sustained minor abrasions from his fall.

 

Some of the neighbours had left during the erection of the marquee, I assumed due to boredom, but they returned with sandwiches for the crowd and they all had a picnic style lunch under the canopy of the marquee when the job was done. It had started to rain lightly.

 

Then next morning as the sun rose behind the clouded sky I saw the tent, it had collapsed. Not completely, the center pole still stood but it now resembled a teepee. The weight of the rain accumulating on the rooftop had been too much for two of the side poles and they had broken. This released the tension on the other posts and they had collapsed towards the center as far as their tethers would allow. Ginger was not going to be very happy.

 

Since the center pole was already up, the task of resurrecting the tent required fewer hands and took much less time. Gypsy and Dee-Dee were inside the tent with brooms knocking the water off the roof as each side was put back into place. By the time the tent was back up everyone was soaked including the two women inside. Because in addition to weak poles, it also appeared that the roof had holes.

 

The tent stayed up for two more days before strong winds over-night brought down one side and repeated the deed again the next night. The rain, sometimes just a drizzle, had not stopped since the marquee had gone up and there was always someone going out to knock the accumulated rain off the canopy, even in the wee hours of the morning. It was usually Ginger but I did hear the Earl grumble out there occasionally in darkness.

 

****

 

The day before the wedding things really started to happen. DSIL (pronounced diesel), the groom-to-be had arrived the night before along with his posse. He came up to me on the mantle when he arrived and looked me over. He obviously had been told about me crashing in unannounced.

 

“Hello Thompson,” he said at last, “are you ready for a traditional British wedding?” Then he winked at me. I was going to like this guy.

 

All day I watched as tables were set up under the big top. It continued to rain on and off and I could see everyone taking turns with the broom. Tables were moved ever so slightly so that none required a pot in the middle to catch the rain. They were adorned with linen table clothes and each dinner setting was meticulously placed, vases of white and pink roses were placed on each as a centerpiece. The men spent quite a bit of time up ladders stringing lights from the canopy. All the finishing touches were being put in place and everyone was happy. They laughed and joked the whole day, I could feel the excitement mounting in all of them.

 

I enjoyed very much being able to see all the activity but I very much wanted to be out there with them. Gypsy once again came to my rescue. It was just shortly after dark when she bounded into the house and snatched me off the mantle.

 

“Come along Thompson,” she said as she took me out the door, “it’s time you joined the party.” I gave her a virtual hug.

 

We crossed the lane towards the marquee. It was magnificent. Greenery wound up the interior poles softening their stark industrial appearance. The lights were strung along the canopy like a pinwheel tied to the center pole and they illuminated the gold sunflower design on the tent’s fabric. The glasses and cutlery glittered and sparkled in the light. The inside was large but had a soft intimate glow. It was magical! It was something out of one of those bride magazines that they sold at the airport store. This was so cool!!! I wish I could show the stuffies back in Regina where I was and what I was doing. Most of them would be excited for me but I knew one that would be envious and even though it was a nasty thought, I really would love to rub Harry the hippos face in it. I’m probably going to stuffie hell for thinking that.

 

We didn’t stop at the marquee but went past it to another tent. It was smaller, a mini-marquee, and I had not seen it go up from my seat on the mantle. It too was lit by spiraling lights but instead of just round tables it had rectangular ones too and a bar covered in all sorts of liquor at the rear. Hay bales sat along the walls, probably as much for anchoring the small tent down as for seating.

 

I entered the tent to a fanfare of “Thompson!!” That’s sweet, I just entered a ‘Cheers’ episode. Even the Earl, who sat on a hay bale with a plate of food in his lap, raised his beer in salute. I was saved once again by the lack of tear ducts; these people were touching my heart.

 

There were quite a few people there. The bride and groom and both their posse’s were there, as well as Ginger and the Earl and some of their family. I was passed around spending a little time here and a little time there.

 

“We should give this a trial and see if it works,” said a member of the crowd. He picked me up and set me into a wheelbarrow full of beer, then got out his phone to take my picture.

 

“Wait,” Ginger called out. She went to the bar and grabbed a bottle from behind it. “From the Earl’s private stock, I wouldn’t want Shane to think we didn’t treat our guest right would we?” She approached me and tucked the beer under my arm. “There perfect!” she pronounced.

 

My picture was taken.

 

“What’s the sign say?” I heard someone ask from behind me.

 

“My name is Thompson. I have come to this wedding from Canada, eh. Take a picture with me and create a wedding memory,” Gypsy said, “and then gives a phone number. He’ll be around at the wedding tomorrow for people to take pictures with if they want to.”

 

“Right, it’s gone off to Canada,” the posse photographer said a few seconds later.

 

Sometimes things take a second longer to process when you have stuffing between your ears. There had been so much activity at the Dairy Farm that I had completely forgotten about the sign around my neck. My picture just went to Canada? I looked at the bottle in my arm; it was a Corona, colleague Shane’s favorite beer! My picture just got sent to colleague Shane!! This was way beyond cool!! Other guests were going to take my picture tomorrow and send them to Canada!! It was too perfect!!!

 

More photos were taken and sent to colleague Shane that night and he must have responded because the posse photographer started to laugh. He turned to Ginger and the Earl and read from his phone.

 

“Your friend says ‘you do realize that Thompson’s a Canadian Bear not a Canadian Beer?’” they all laughed. Don’t laugh you just encourage him, I moaned inside.

 

I was returned to the mantle later that night. The rain had not stopped all day and I watched as Ginger stood guard with a broom under the marquee after the others had gone to bed. She sat reading and every so often would rise, take the broom and move about the tent pushing the water off the roof. There was no way that it was coming down tonight if she had anything to say about it. The rain finally stopped in the wee hours of the morning and the skies cleared and I watched Ginger finally go to bed.

 

****

 

The big day was finally here. Just a few puffy white clouds dotted the sky and the sun shone brightly, it was the perfect day for a wedding.

 

The first thing that must be said about my hosts is that they sure clean up good!! I had been seeing them in jeans and work shirts for weeks, covered in mud and grime, but today the all looked fabulous! The Earl had even trimmed his beard and moustache and looked ever the English gentleman in his tuxedo.

 

It was chaos for most of the morning in the house on the Dairy Farm. I sat invisible on the mantle, there was no ‘Good morning Thompson’ being said today. The closest I got to any recognition that morning was when someone asked where the marker was and they were told “on the mantle beside Thompson.”

 

I could see people milling about out by the marquee; Ginger had put out coffee and tea for them. Although Ginger didn’t seem very pleased that people didn’t know the difference between noon and three, she was the perfect hostess. The guests on the lawn sipping tea were all dressed up, the men in suits and the women in formal dresses. Most women had some sort of head gear, hats of different shapes and sizes; one had what looked like a flower garden in her hair.

 

There were also people inside the house who I had never seen before, some were close relatives of the bride and some I think were there to help, they kept asking Ginger where she kept things. One I’m sure was a professional photographer; she gave her business card to everyone she took a picture of and she took lots of pictures.

 

An older woman who I thought was the Queen of England sat in a chair in the dining room. She was very smartly dressed and looked just like the painting of the Queen in the Regina Airport. I was sure it was her. I was wrong of course, it turns out that this was ‘grandmother’ or as Ginger called her ‘Mum’. She sat sipping tea and watched in amusement as the others buzzed about her. Occasionally she would lower her teacup below the table to rummage for something in her handbag. She never seemed to find what she was looking for because when she sat back up the only thing in her hand was the teacup. One of those times when she sat back up our eyes met. She gave me a small smile, and then winked as she took a sip of her tea. That’s right the old girl winked at me! I’m thinking karaoke may be in my future!!

 

Dee-Dee and her entourage came into the room. She looked beautiful in her gown! They all looked beautiful!! The Earl even looked beautiful!!! He took his daughter’s hand and with a tear in his eye he told her the same thing. Damn Chinese!!! Would one lousy tear duct have been too much to ask for!!!

 

Then they were gone. Every last one! I sat alone on the Dairy Farm not understanding what had just happened. Ten minutes ago there was a crowd and now there was no one. Two hours later they all came back and some.

 

****

 

The first to arrive back were the now Doctor Duo, Dee-Dee and Dsil. They came roaring back on the back of the ‘Noddymobile’, which turns out to be the farms ATV all cleaned up. The duo were laughing and kissing, they were now married. They got off the ‘Noddymobile’ and it drove away. They walked hand in hand to the front of the marquee and a table that had a bottle of champagne and two glasses on it. They were alone, Dsil opened the wine and filled the glasses, handing one to Dee-Dee. He started to speak to her but I was too far away to hear what he said. When he finished he kissed her gently and held his glass up to her. She wiped the tears from her eyes and smiled at him, tapped her glass to his and they both drank. Then she hugged him and they kissed in a way that made me blush. I felt bad for having witnessed such a private moment but what was I to do… no eyelids.

 

Suddenly the door to the house burst open and I heard a strange voice say, “Alright ladies let’s get organised” and nine, no ten, strange people came in through the door. I would later hear Ginger refer to them as ‘the ladies’ and they were the caterers. I looked back out the window and could see that Ginger and the Earl along with Dsil’s parents, had joined the doctor duo. There was hand shaking and hugging and they were all very happy.

 

People continued to arrive in groups of four and five and it wasn’t long before the lawn was completely full.  They mingled about sipping wine and chatting with each other. The sun shone brightly and everyone seemed to enjoy being at the Dairy Farm for a wedding. A short while later Gypsy came into the house and once again snatched me off the mantle.

 

“Time for you to meet the guests,” she said to me and took me out the door. I loved this girl!! She understood that you didn’t have an adventure sitting on a mantle; you had to get out there!

 

Once again I was taken to the bar tent and this time set on the hay bale next to the bartender. She straightened my hat and turned the sign I wore around my neck so it faced the wall, “I’ll be back for you later,” Gypsy said to me and “Keep an eye on him please,” to the bartender. Many people asked what the bear was all about when they came to re-fill their glasses and the bartender would just shrug. It was all very exciting; all the other guests were dressed up in their finest clothes and I didn’t feel out of place because I too was dressed up in a Mounties finest.

 

“Well he looks very dashing in the red serge,” the lady with the garden in her hair said to the bartender when he had shrugged at her question about my origins. She raised her glass to me as she went to rejoin her companions; she had difficulty navigating her way.

 

“That’s her third trip here,” the bartender whispered to me, “she won’t make it to dinner.”

 

Later Gypsy came and moved me to the marquee, setting me on the ground at the end of a long rectangular table near the microphone. The people that had been mingling out in the garden started to make their way into the tent. They meandered about the round tables looking at the little cards that were placed at each chair until they found the one with their name on it and sat.

 

The last people to enter were the bride and groom and their respective entourages. There was applause as they made their way to my table and all took seats. Then one of Dsil’s boys got up and approached the microphone. He introduced himself as the master of ceremonies and he welcomed everyone and called on the local Pasteur to say a prayer before the meal. Which he did, then ‘the ladies’ started to serve the meal.

 

After the meal, as everyone was having tea and desert, the MC got back up to the microphone an announced that it was time for the speeches. Everyone in the tent moaned, and then they all laughed. Quite a few people spoke; telling funny stories about Dee-Dee or Dsil and at the end of each speech everyone inside raised their glasses and drank. My favorite speech was the Earl’s; he got up to the microphone, cleared his throat and said, “Welcome to the wedding of Dsil and Dee-Dee and thank you to everyone that made it possible.” Then he sat down and everyone laughed and drank. The man does not waste words.

 

At the end Dsil and Dee-Dee got up to speak. Dee-Dee spoke for both of them.

 

“I want to thank everyone for coming to our wedding,” Dee-Dee began, “some of you have travelled great distances to spend this special day with us.” She began to identify only the guests that had travelled particularly far because the truth is, everyone had to travel to get to the Dairy Farm. She then thanked all the people that had helped and ‘the ladies’ for the lovely meal. She then spoke directly to both their parents and thanked them for just about everything on the planet. She was crying, they were crying and many of the guests were shedding a silent tear. It was beautiful I thought, sitting duct-less at her feet.

 

“Oh I almost forgot,” she said as she finished her speech. She reached down and picked me up. “This little guy,” she told the crowd, holding me up for all to see, “has travelled further than any of our other guests.” Did she say guest? “He has come to this wedding from Canada, his name is Thompson and he wants to have his picture taken with you.”  She explained about the sign and of course the all important number. “So feel free to pass him around.” She finished by telling everyone to enjoy themselves and the band began to play. That’s right, they had a band!!

 

****

 

I moved about the room for the rest of the evening. It was great! I was on the dance floor; I was at the bar; I was moved from chair to chair and table to table. People would take a selfie with the stuffie and then send it to the number on my sign.  I’d hang for a while, listening to talk of the wedding and other world events, then I would be scooped up and taken to another table, more pictures, more hanging and drinking and then I’d be away to another table. I was hugged and kissed on the cheek and on more than one occasion one of the other guests would say, “You’re so cute Thompson I may just have to take you home with me.”

 

I caught a glimpse of the Queen, she was seated with some of the older guests, and I assume these were her friends. I watched as she sang along with the rest of her table a song the band was playing. I knew there would be karaoke! I needed to get to that table! But later when I looked at that table again, most of them had nodded off including the Queen.

 

The band stopped playing and MC guy had everyone gather around the dance floor. I was left behind and couldn’t see what was going on but there was lots of cheering and applause. Suddenly arms went into the air and the women started to scream and OMG… was that the flower garden lady’s head being thrown in the air??? If I’d had a heart it would have stopped! Turns out it was only Dee-Dee’s bridal bouquet. Legend has it that if you catch the bridal bouquet you will be the next to get married; only unmarried and recently divorced women are allowed to catch it, it’s one of those wedding rules. I saw Ginger restraining Gypsy’s arms when it was thrown.

 

The band started to play again. People had stopped taking my picture and I sat in a chair watching them dance. I thought I was having a very good adventure indeed until a truck pulled up and unloaded a large box. Boxes of any size made me nervous. Men went to work quickly and before I knew it Dsil was announcing that the photo-booth had arrived and was ready to go. From this point forward picture taking took on a whole new meaning.

 

“You’re going to want some of this action Thompson,” Gypsy said to me as she brought me to join Dee-Dee and the rest of her posse. We all went inside the photo-booth and when everyone was ready someone hit the start button and the machine we were in started taking pictures, really fast! The flashes were blinding (Note to Chinese: See… eyelids would be helpful). The photo-booth had funky hats and glasses and the girls laughed as they put things on and tried to pose for the next shot. They left me behind in the photo-booth, the flashes continued, so I improvised. Then Dsil and his posse came in and they played around and mugged for the camera. The whole time I was hamming it up along with them. I went in and out of that booth all night long! What an adventure I had!! It was the best night of my life!!!

 

My night ended back in the bar tent, where I sat and watched as people left the gathering. They always came up to the Doctor Duo before they departed. They hugged and kissed Dee-Dee and Dsil wishing them both the best and thanked them for their hospitality. Many came and said thank you to Ginger and the Earl whom I sat on the bale behind. A few even addressed me and said’ “It was a pleasure to have met you Thompson.” I would smile back at them, “the pleasure was all mine.”

 

“He’s sloshed,” Ginger would comment to the Earl when the guest left, “he’s talking to a stuffed bear.” The Earl would just smile at her and nod.

 

****

 

“There you are,” Gypsy said picking me up. I was still in the bar tent lying on a hay bale. A few of Dsil’s boys lay close by and if I wasn’t mistaken Dsil himself. She took me inside, the sun had been up for some time but everybody looked like they had just risen from bed. This was not going to be a normal Dairy Farm day.

 

Gypsy dried me with a towel, judging by the smell the same one they use for the dog, and set me on a chair in the corner. There was a fair amount of moaning to be heard, the loudest being from Dsil and his small band when they came into the house begging for coffee.

 

There was some good natured ribbing from the Earl to his new doctor son-in-law about how he had just spent his wedding night. That was until Dee-Dee came in the door moments later still in her wedding dress with straw in her hair.

 

“Shower,” was all she said and disappeared. They all laughed, including the Earl.

 

Later that day people dropped by for a visit and they all sat outside in the garden and relived the events of the day before. It was funny to hear how so many people had different visions of the same thing. There were lots of funny stories, like when Aunt Celia bumped into Uncle Clayton outside the loo. Those two really don’t like each other!

 

People came all afternoon but at a casual pace. On more than one occasion Ginger, Dee-Dee and Gypsy had to come into the kitchen to refill platters of cheese and meat; there were no ‘the ladies’ today. It was at one of those times that Ginger’s cell phone gave a ring.

 

“Oh, no,” she said reading the message.

 

“What is it mum?” Dee-Dee asked.

 

“It’s from Shane in Canada,” she replied, “it seems that none of the pictures that we sent to him of Thompson yesterday arrived.”

 

“Well that is a shame now isn’t it?” I thought as I sat smiling in the corner of an English kitchen.

 

****

 

It was dark. The store at the Regina International Airport had been closed for quite a few hours and the last planes of the night had departed. The stuffies sat on their shelf trash talking the newest addition to their ranks.

 

“Yeah the last guy that had your spot was some doofus named Thompson,” Harry the hippo said. “He wanted to go have an adventure just like Paddington too. He got lucky and went to a wedding… in Winnipeg!!!” The other stuffies erupted in laughter. “He’s probably in some closet somewhere trying to keep the spiders away!” Harry was laughing so hard he almost split a seam.

 

Suddenly one of the cell phones on the wall across from the shelf lit up and a picture appeared, followed by another. Then one of the other display phones powered up and more pictures started appearing and on and on it went.

 

“Hey look,” exclaimed Morris the moose, “the pictures are coming from England.” They all sat quietly watching the pictures appear.

 

“Who’s that?” the newbie on the shelf asked the other stuffies.

 

“That’s Thompson,” Harry quietly said.

 

 

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****

 

Some days later Ginger called out to Gypsy from the kitchen. She appeared in the doorway.

 

“What do you need mum?” She asked.

 

“Dee-Dee forgot Thompson,” Ginger said pointing in my direction, “would you be a dear and put him away somewhere.”

 

“Sure,” she replied and scooped me up and took me to a bedroom and placed me on a shelf. I was not alone as I noticed other stuffed toys in the room. My eyes settled on one in particular.

 

“Ralph?” I said after Gypsy had left the room. “Is that you?”

 

“Thompson!” he replied with obvious joy.

 

“How did you get here?” I asked. I was in shock at finding my friend right here at the Dairy Farm. “The last time I saw you that little girl was strangling you.”

 

“That’s right,” he said to me laughing, “The little girl fell asleep and left me on the plane, I ended up in Jamaica mon!” He saw the puzzled look on my face because Jamaica is a long way from the Dairy Farm, England. “It’s a long story…”

 

****

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

  1. Wow! This is a GREAT story! I mean it. I’m not sure if technology let you down though. I guess there were a lot of pictures you didn’t receive. But the ones you got sure capture the mood of the tale. All in all, I think it was a good decision to send Thompson on his epic overseas journey. He was certainly well received.

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