After therapist and teacher Tim Allsop discovers his Paddington has been mauled by moths, he is confronted with exploring the meaning in his beloved childhood toy. Are all toys transitional objects?
Paddington has for the last three years sat on the corner of my desk in my study watching me as I work. Before that time, he lived on a chair in the spare room, but after a series of guests and family came to stay, I thought it safer that he sat in my office — out of a fear he might get damaged. A fatal move.
The study is oddly built. The previous owners had been a little over zealous in their use of MDF and had built a large workspace and desk into one wall — with MDF panels going up to the ceiling on side of the room. It was a distinctly average piece of DIY, not so much Handy Andy and Andy Pandy. Paddington sat in the far corner, nestled up against the wall. The result of this was that the beige colour of the MDF provided perfect camouflage for the common clothes moth (Tineola bisselliella).
Now and then I noticed a moth clumsily fly across the window and I dismissed it from the world with a slap from whatever book I had beside me. But beyond that, I gave it little further thought. Then a week ago, I noticed one crawling up the front of Paddington’s blue coat and using my hand like one of those toy grabbers in an arcade, I removed the animal trying my best not to mark the cloth. In doing so, I noticed a small hole and something white half-buried in the fibre. On a closer inspection, I could make out the larvae of a moth. I picked up Paddington and saw a couple of holes in the front of the jacket and more larvae. Then I turned the bear around and I might as well have just stumbled upon the deceased Barbara from Stranger Things, the horror was that grotesque. Half of the coat was missing and there were perhaps two dozen larvae munching their way through my beloved toy. Three adult moths were having a party under Paddington’s orange hat.
Carrying the bear to the bathroom, I held him over bath while carefully removing the jacket and hat and throwing them down into the tub. I flicked the moths and any larvae stuck on his fur into the toilet and then I felt a swathe of emotions, calling for my…