It’s that time of year again! No, I’m not talking about New Years resolutions, revolutions, or recessions. Rather, it is time for London Zoo’s annual stock take in which keepers face the mighty challenge of counting every beast, bird and insect at the zoo.
Many years ago, my brother and I embarked upon the equally daunting task of holding a census for our esteemed collection of cuddly toys. No less than 210 soft toys were summoned to my bedroom and arranged in alphabetical order. Each toy went through a thorough preening process where umbilical cords (or ‘unbiblical cords’ as we called them) were removed and family ties were established. Naming ceremonies were performed for those that had not yet been named (such as ‘Bump’ and ‘Knock’ for a pair of slippers, ‘Norwich man’ for a knitted green thing, and ‘Flubble’ for a bizarre homemade pom-pom).
Each toy was given a unique number, and a strict rota was put into place whereby once a week the toys in our beds would be replaced by the next five on the list. The idea was that through the course of the year every toy would have had a turn in our beds. Of course, I had no intention of sticking to the rota as I was more than happy to keep my old favourites (Old Bear and Honey) as permanent residents in my bed.
What I didn’t factor for were weekly tantrums from my brother who screamed and wailed as he exclaimed— tears streaming down his face— that if we didn’t stick to the rota then it wouldn’t be ‘fair’ on the toys. Although I was more than happy to show preferential treatment to Old Bear and Honey, I didn’t want to protest too loudly with all the toys within earshot, so I conceded. However, I can’t say I cared much for the week when I was obligated to share my bed with ‘Throw’ (a ball) and my brother’s ‘Ultimate Warrior’ wrestling doll.