Bet you didn’t see that one coming.
To be precise I am a reconstructive surgeon, highly specialised in the area of (drum roll please) teddy bear noses!
Well, to be truthful, when I say ‘teddy bear noses‘, I actually mean the nose of one specific, much loved bear and he belongs to Middle Mudlet and is known as Honeybear. I have had to do minor repairs to other cuddly toys over the years but my most intricate and complicated work, over the last 8 years or so, has invariably involved the worn out snout of this very cheeky little bear.
Honeybear came to live with us in early 2005, after we spotted him on a shelf in the supermarket that ‘Ant and Dec’ frequent (UK readers will understand this reference – apologies to the rest of you). He was incredibly soft and a glorious honey colour, the only one of his kind there and desperately in need of a home. He proved an instant hit with Middle Mudlet who was not quite one at that time, and he very quickly became her permanent companion, going everywhere she went.
As you can see from the first picture, by the end of 2005, his nose was already starting to show signs of how loved he was and I made several repairs during early 2006 but by 2007, half the original nose had worn away to nothing and Honeybear had to undergo his first major operation, with an anxious little girl watching my every move.
Luckily, we had a yellow baby towel, which was even too small for Little Mudlet and so I cut out a large patch and sowed it over the worn out area, and then used fresh toy stuffing to reconstruct the shape of the nose. I also had to resew the dark nose patch and the mouth but, overall, the end result was not too bad and Middle Mudlet approved which was the most important thing.
As with the original nose, it didn’t take long before the love and attention of his young owner, caused the dark stitching to start unraveling and where the new nose joined the original one, ends were starting to fray and toy stuffing was beginning to emerge and in 2008 Honeybear underwent a second major operation – this time to have a full replacement nose fitted, using a larger patch of the same yellow towel.
Sadly, pictures of the newly replaced nose don’t exist but by early 2010 this nose was also beginning to fail and emergency repairs to holes were becoming an almost weekly event. With the requirement for another new nose imminent, I started to look out for a suitable material from which a new snout could be fashioned, as the rest of the old yellow towel was no longer available, having been used as rags. By chance I came across a cream coloured toweling flannel, costing the extortionate amount of 50p, just days before Honeybear suffered a catastrophic failure of his nose.
Watched over, once again, by an anxious and very reluctant little girl, Honeybear once again went under the needle and scissors and the tattered remains of his nose was carefully removed before the new one was sewn into place, carefully sculpted with toy stuffing and then the new black nose and mouth were sewn on, to give him his ‘smile’ back.
Repairing a much loved toy such as Honeybear and the replacement of significant parts such as the snout, are always fraught with risk and in this case, the brightness of the new nose, against the faded, worn fur of his face and body, was rather startling and for a few minutes it looked like Middle Mudlet was going to reject her old friend. Mud and I gently explained how important it had been to replace the nose, as there really wasn’t anything left of the old one with which to affect any sort of repair. Thankfully, our tearful little girl couldn’t withstand the forlorn look of poor old Honeybear for long and, very soon, he was back in his rightful place, at her side.
The cheapness of the flannel, belied the durability of the material from which it was made and this nose has lasted for three years now, although some minor repairs have had to be made over the last 12 months. You could be forgiven for thinking that as she is now 9, this durability may, in part, be attributable to a lack of use and, to a point, you’d be correct. However, Honeybear is far from being relegated to the pillow, out of school hours and even as I type Middle Mudlet is sitting beside me on the sofa, cuddling her bear.
At 8 years old, he is decidedly a bit the worse for wear these days, with the ‘sagging’ tummy many well loved bears develop over time, caused by the almost constant pressure of a small arm around the neck, hugging him so tightly that the body stuffing has long since parted company from the head stuffing, leaving a very wobbly head, sitting on the bulging, stuffing filled belly.
Over recent weeks, nose number three has started to show a few more signs of wear and I have made repairs to it on several occasions, as well as to arm and leg seams. Then yesterday, an anxious little face appeared at my side.
“Honeybear has a hole in his nose,” said a little voice, thrusting the teddy under my nose. At this point I realised he needed another trip to ‘Washington’ (that’s the washing machine in our house :)).
I also realised that Middle Mudlet was correct and there was indeed a rather large hole in the snout.
This presented a bit of a problem as I didn’t have anything in the house which could be used to replace the nose completely.
“I’ll have to patch it,” I said.
“No!” was the reply from his owner.
“Let’s ask Honeybear!” I said
So Honeybear and I had a discussion, to the amusement of the Mudlets, about the options and faced with the choice of:
- Wait on a shelf in Mudlets room until a new piece of material could be purchased to make the new nose; or
- Have a patch fitted now which will delay the need for a replacement nose for a few more months and be able to play with Mudlet straight away.
Honeybear, not surprisingly, chose to have his nose patched and Mudlet agreed that this was maybe the right decision for now.
So after a brief hunt for a suitable bit of material with which to make a patch, dear old Honeybear endured yet another long procedure to patch his snout. I was a little concerned about how he would look at the end of the process but we are all agreed that his new look gives him a rakish appearance and makes him look cheekier than ever.
A rakish new look for this much loved bear
I hope that it’ll be a few months before my surgical skills are called upon once again …… although I did find a cuddly toy reindeer thrust into my lap later, with instructions from Little Mudlet that he had a problem with his leg – it has a hole – it needs fixing …….