by Gladly Ball
Dedicated to Aunt Tish & Uncle Eddie

My brother Fred and I are two of the very earliest members of our Hug, which since I was adopted in 1981, now totals some 533 bears and other animals.

Fred and I, are the joint Chief Hug Bears, and over the years we have been much loved and cuddled, so much so that our fur began to get rather thin and worn in places. So some years ago Dad kindly bought us some clothes, to protect us from further wear. These include a tracksuit set, rugby shirt and shorts for summer and our favourite winter outfit Arran sweater and brown corduroy trousers. It was a sad day therefore, when I suddenly found that my trousers kept slipping down and realised that the elastic in the waistband had perished.

"Never mind", said Dad. "When we go to Manchester later in the month, I will visit the bear shop and try to get you a replacement pair".

This cheered me up and on the day I waited with anticipation for Dad and Uncle Brian to arrive home.

"Did you have any luck", I asked.

"Yes in a way, although they did not have any in the dark brown colour, only a lighter fawn. Also the waistband is different, so we will have to see whether they are suitable", replied Dad.

"I'll try them now if you don’t mind", I said.

They looked fine, but as Dad had thought with the waistband being different, they did not grip properly, and in fact slipped down more than by existing trousers.

"Oh dear", I said, "but thank you Dad for trying anyway.

So, the new trousers lay unwanted and unloved, in a drawer in the bedroom.

I struggled on with mine into 2011, but finally they slipped so much that I had to abandon them and wear instead my tracksuit bottoms. I felt rather down in the paw, as I was no longer coordinated with my brother Fred, but there was seemingly nothing that could be done.

This year was my Dad’s 60th birthday, and at the end of February, Aunt Tish and Uncle Eddie came to visit. They went with Dad and Uncle Brian to their favourite café, Elaine’s Tearooms at Feizor for lunch to celebrate. A new Hug member was adopted here too, as Elaine and her staff had bought Dad a Ringtons Tea teddy for his birthday. He is named Nigel, after the Ringtons Tea gentleman who brings tea to Aunt Tish & Uncle Eddie. He is smartly dressed in black trousers and shirt with the Ringtons logo, and he has his leather bag for the monies collected.

Although I did not go along with them to Elaine’s, Aunt Tish noticed that I was wearing my tracksuit bottoms, and Dad explained about the problem with my trousers.

"That’s easily remedied", said Aunt Tish, popping them in her bag to take home.

One morning a couple of weeks later, the post dropped through the door, which included a package from Uncle Eddie.

"Whatever can this be", said Uncle Brian, with a quizzical look on his face.

Dad immediately opened the package and exclaimed, "they are your trousers Gladly, all repaired. There is a letter too."

In it Aunt Tish, explained that Uncle Eddie had been despatched to the local haberdashery shop, where a metre of elastic had been purchased for the princely sum of 20p. Aunt Tish cut a suitable length, and it was soon inserted and the repair completed. She then went in to explain that she had been determined to get them done and posted back in good time, in view of the impending visit to the luxury hotel of Armathwaite Hall in the Lake District. Fred and I were to be among our Hug pal Fletcher’s guests, and as she said going to such a posh establishment, Fred and I had to have coordinated clothing.

I immediately tried them on and to my joy they fitted snugly, and do not slip down at all.

Later in the day I rang Aunt Tish to thank her, and I say again here in the tale, "Thank you!"

Here is Fred and I in our favourite clothes. This photo was taken, some time ago, soon after they were bought.

So now finally I come to the nub of this tale concerning the unloved trousers.

Early in April, just a few days after our return from Armathwaite Hall, some important post arrived through the door. The envelope contained some cheques that Dad had been eagerly awaiting, which then needed to be immediately paid into Dad’s bank. So off he went to Lancaster. From the car park he then strolled along Church Street to his bank branch that is on the corner with New Street. It was quiet, so the cheques were soon paid in.

Uncle Brian had also asked Dad to get something from Boots. To get there, he cut up one of the passages that links Church Street with Market Street. Now, it just so happened that it was a Wednesday, and there is always a street market on that day, so as Dad walked along he looked at the stalls. One was a bookstall, but it was not books that caught Dad’s attention, rather the teddy bears that were sitting on the floor looking rather forlorn. One in particular attracted Dad, wearing an Arran sweater, just like Fred’s and mine. He picked him up, and really fell in love with him, noting too that he was just £1.50. The problem was that Dad is not supposed to be adding to the Hug, as space is very much at a premium. So the poor bear was placed back on the ground and Dad walked on to Boots.

His hopes of rescue raised then suddenly dashed, caused him to start to cry, making his sweater wet. Meanwhile Dad had completed the purchase in Boots. He was just a few yards from the back door that would lead him towards the car, but sensing that the poor little bear was in such distress, he instead returned along Market Street, to the bookstall.

Seeing Dad, a thrill ran through his body and a smile broke out on his face as Dad picked him up, saying to the stallholder, "I just cannot resist adopting him."

To eventually adopt him Dad had twice walked through the shopping area called St Nicholas Arcade, and so it was instantly decided that he should be called Nicholas, a name our new pal is very proud of.

On closer examination, Dad noted that Nicholas originally came from the Bear Factory, now called Build a Bear Workshop, where indeed the unloved trousers were purchased.

Dad said to Uncle Brian, "he just needs a pair of trousers to complete his outfit, and I think I have just the thing in the drawer."

"Oh yes", Uncle Brian replied. "You mean those you bought for Gladly, that did not fit."

"That’s right", said Dad.

They were soon retrieved from the drawer, and Nicholas tried them on to find that they were an absolute perfect fit, as you can see from the picture.

And so it was that the unloved trousers became much loved, and are worn with pride by Nicholas. Nigel has taken him under his paw too, and they have become best friends and inseparable.



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