Stella loaded her teddy bears into the car. There are six who travel with us wherever we go.

The smaller ones fit in a rucksack. The giant one — Big Bear — she carries in her arms because he doubles up as her pillow. She is nearly 15; opinionated and sharp-minded, she whets her feminist world view on her hapless, increasingly doddering, parents. At night, though, she clings to her moth-eaten toys, seeking their mute love as she drifts off.

She took her bears and got into the car. We were going home to Belgium, fleeing London and the chilling lunacy of Boris Johnson’s fighting talk as the COVID-19 deaths escalated and schools remained defiantly open.

As we…

The Fabulist

Former theatre critic, mum, grammar nazi, cynic, small-island girl far from home. Believer in the socialist Christ.

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