Tales of Henrietta

Almost Christmas, one of a bear’s happiest times of the year.

I know, you humans wonder why a Bear likes Christmas so much.
Well my dear friends, the thought of Turkey, Beef and presents of course!
It’s a day full of jollity on Christmas Day and it’s fun for a bear preparing for Christmas before the big day.

I’m a big bear at 27 inches and I can, walk, talk and easily eat on my own. But … my parents aren’t truly aware of my capabilities as they think I just sit on the chest all day long. Little do they know what I have been dreaming up in my Christmas preparations. Yippee! A bear needs excitement, and I have a fantastic plan for getting a nice supply of Christmas goodies well in advance.

Three days before the big day and I can hardly breathe I’m so excited! It’s now time for me to get going. I’m heading for the Grocery delivery vans. Not far away from my home are 3 Supermarkets and the vans are coming in several times a day to keep the shops well stocked. It’s the busiest time of the year so perfect timing for a bear to be fat and full over Christmas. so …

Head torch firmly in place – check, coat on – check, boots on – check, basket on my arm – check, money in my pocket – check, uh no ( a bear doesn’t need money) my wily skills are more than enough!

I’ll gently climb down from my chest, uh oh I’m falling …

“Maximus Maximus, watch out”, I screamed, “I’m coming down fast” and quickly landed on top of him in his dog bed.

“Henrietta” growled Maximus, who is the Dog Pack Leader.
“This is my bed and I was asleep, I won’t bite you this time but if you do it again I’ll bite your butt.”
“Do be careful! and Henrietta, why are you dressed like a miner with a shopping basket?”

Of course I’d forgotten that dogs can see clearly in the dark. I thought my mission was blown, until he said “I see you have a large basket but why are you going shopping in the middle of the night?”

“The shops are closed, and you don’t have any money to buy Christmas sweets.”

“I don’t need money Maximus as I’m a bear!”

“But you shouldn’t be going out at night in the dark on your own, you could be kidnapped!” replied Maximus.
Maximum stared at me for a few seconds and then, calmly said “I’d better go with you. I can be your bodyguard and although I don’t know what you’re up to I know you’re a very clever bear and my payment for helping you will have to be in dog treats or nice piece of Turkey or beef !”

Hurriedly, I agreed totally unsure about sharing my future stash. I gently attached his lead as he is not the bravest of dogs and very afraid of any sudden noises. We crept silently out of the front door and I carefully closed it so no one could hear.

He was pulling me far too fast and as a bear only has two legs, I could not keep up with him.
“Come on Henrietta walk faster.” said Maximus
“I can’t, I can’t, please stop pulling Maximus. I’ve a better idea, why don’t I climb onto your back and we can both see better with my head torch leading the way.?”
“Okay jump up onto my back but be quick as I don’t really like being out in the dark.” “Now you tell me Maximus!”

I was now on and sitting comfortably, “Let’s go to the 1st big superstore which is straight across from the park Maximus. The humans will be off loading tons of Turkey, beef and ham and my favourite, pigs in blankets from the big lorries so we can easily find what we need. Plus we can find lots of toys for treats and dogs and for the humans without it costing us anything.”

“Okay I’m picking up pace now Henrietta just hold on tightly to my lead and do be quiet! “ said Maximus.

It was a fast bumpy ride through the park and then crossing the main road before into the superstore delivery yard.

“Where are we heading in the yard”, whispered Max, as I gingerly got my feet back on the ground. “Whenever the biggest lorries open their back doors”, I whispered “and the when the driver disappears into the shop, I can run up the steps into the trucks and take a look.”

“I’m looking for turkeys, beef, ham toys and sweets and presents so I’ll grab all the goodies Maximus. Let’s quietly wait in a dark corner where we have the best view of the biggest trucks.”

There were 10 big trucks and some smaller vans and I was super excited thinking about all the goodies I could get into my big basket. Maximus leant in gently and whispered,“I need a bag too Henrietta!”

Maximus, look, look, quick, over there! It’s a small toy sleigh but big enough for us to tie the reins to your back and top it up with goodies. I have a drawstring bin bag in my basket so we can do this!!! Oh my goodness the adrenaline was pumping now, what a feast we had in store!

“Do you see those 4 smaller lorries at the very back?” said Maximus,“One of them is a local meat lorry. I can smell the meat from here and my nose is highly sensitive to beef and Turkey and look it says free range on the side so it will be the very tastiest Henrietta! I’m afraid I’m not going to be able to wait, I need to head there and be quick as my tummy is rumbling and the doors of those smaller lorries are all open.”

“Shh Maximus, be quiet, I agree but let’s get the sleigh and put it next to the small lorry, I’ll attach everything to your tummy and get the reins in place for our fast getaway but please stay still as I will have to get everything from the vans and trucks on my own, now we have the sleigh, so I’ll throw everything into the bin bag which is now in place on the sleigh.”

“Yes but look at the other big lorry that’s just pulled up Henrietta, it says sweets and toys for all children.” replied Max

Okay, okay, I need a fast plan Max. Right, the big lorry driver and the smaller van driver left their back doors open and disappeared into the delivery warehouse.

‘Go Max, Go!!!

I quickly grabbed his lead. “Be quiet and don’t growl or bark or we will be caught Maximus. ‘We won’t get caught if we’re quick. Stay quiet and run fast Maximus.”

“Hey Henrietta, I can smell delicious Turkey, beef and sausage, toss them into the bin bag on the sleigh!” said max, whilst licking his lips. “Stay still Max and cover your nose then you won’t be tempted to run into the van yourself; I have it all covered and it’s going to be a wonderful stash,I promise!” “Okay Henrietta, I’ll do that but it will be very hard, the temptation is too much for a dog”

All the fresh Christmas meat was close to the open doors! “Maximus, I whispered, here we go!” 

2 Turkeys … Toss!
3 beef joints … Toss!
10 packs of sausages in blankets … Toss!’

“They’re all in the bin bag” said Max” Now get the sweets and pressies Henrietta but be quick!!” I crawled up into the big truck and grabbed all the sweets I could find and put them in my basket. Then I found a beautiful doll and placed her gently into my basket as she was going to be my Christmas present. There were dog treats and toys so I tossed them into the bin bag. Leapt down from the big truck with my basket, tied the bin bag securely to the sleigh and grabbed Max’ reins. “Jump up on my back and hold on tight as I’m going to be racing back home extra fast.” shouted Max.

We had a huge Christmas stash and we were both drooling at the mere thought of Turkey, beef and sausages! “Ready, steady, go Max! Faster faster faster” but … suddenly, the bright security light came on. The store gates closed and in a heart beat. We were caught!

“Hey!” Shouted the store man.“What are you doing on that sleigh and what have you got in that basket? And what have you got in that huge bin bag on the sleigh? Have you been stealing from our delivery vehicles?” Maximus started shaking and whimpering but there was no way I was giving up our stash as it was a good night’s work! However there was now, no escape. Yikes!

“You two wait there, as I’m getting the Security Guard, you’re both in BIG trouble!”

There’s no way we could get out through the gates which were firmly closed. There was no way we could escape.
“What are we going to do?” squirmed Maximus.“We’re definitely in big big trouble !!”

‘The Security Guard is coming to get us, we screamed in unison!’

“I’ve an idea Maximus, let’s hide under the big truck next to the security gates. Gently pull the sleigh so no one hears us. No one will find us there.”

‘Let’s go’, we screamed together.’

The man who reported us came out of the store with the Security Guard.
“So, what did they look like?” asked the Guard. “Well … there was a brown and white dog and a big old golden teddy bear wearing a head torch and coat and they had raided the free range van and rampaged the toy and sweet truck! They had a very large shopping basket full of toys and sweets and a large black bin bag which was full up on top of a sleigh!”

“Could you describe the thieves again please?”
The man repeated what he saw. The Security Guard started to laugh and said,
“So you’re expecting me to believe that a dog and an old teddy bear stole items from two delivery vehicles? So where are they now as they couldn’t get out of here with the gates closed.? You must be imagining things! How on earth could an old stuffed bear and a dog do such a thing? It’s impossible! And they were pulling a sleigh? Are you sure you didn’t see Santa and Rudolf ? I suggest you get back to work and stop telling me tall stories.”

All of a sudden there was a noise in the fresh meat van! “See, I told” you said the store manager, “they’re back in the van stealing more things.”
“Okay, let’s get in there fast and arrest them, the cheeky creatures!” the security guard replied.

Me and Max were looking on wondering who on earth was in the van!

“Oh my goodness there’s a family of foxes in the van” said the security guard!
“Quick, quick, shoo them out as they’ve rampaged all the beef and turkey and open the gates fast to get them off site as fast as we can before they steal anything else! How on earth did you say it was a dog and an old bear stealing when it was a gang of foxes!. You need your eyes checking!”

Maximus and I both looked at one another thinking the same thing. The gates were about to be opened! We could make a break for it! The gates were open very wide as it was a huge gang of foxes running through them. Then we got very lucky as the security light suddenly went out, so we raced through the gates like lightening before they closed upon us. “Here we go Henrietta! We’re going extra fast Henrietta as we must not be seen.”

“Run Maximus, Run!”

We raced across the road with the sleigh gliding along nicely as snow was beginning to fall; into the park, then we’re almost home.
We finally spotted the house where we lived but didn’t know how we could get back in as I’d forgotten to pick up the front door key on our way out.
“Don’t worry Henrietta” said Maximus, “our bedroom window is slightly open, so stay sitting on my back then you can reach the bottom of the sash window and push it up so we can get through it easily. I’ll hold the basket Henrietta, whilst you climb through.”

I gradually forced the window open, enough to get through easily and landed on a chair. Max handed up my goodie basket very carefully so as not to harm my new doll. Max whispered:  “But how do we get the sleigh indoors Henrietta?”  Hold on Maximus, I’ll creep carefully to the front door and let you in with the sleigh and then we can gently carry it through to our bedroom.”

The sleigh was very very heavy! We took one Turkey and one pack of pigs in blankets into the bedroom and put them on top of our old trunk. The rest of the meat we carefully placed into the big freezer in the kitchen. With me standing on Max’s back, I just managed it.

Our parents would be very surprised to find a lovely meat stash for Christmas.

“Henrietta you’re hurting my back please hurry and close the freezer lid !” Max screamed.

“You still have the sweets and dog treats and toys don’t you Henrietta?”

‘”Yes and yes Maximus!”

We slowly and silently retreated to the bedroom. I put all of our dog treats, dog toys and sweets into the bottom drawer of the chest so that Max could easily get to them when he was hungry or wanted to play with his new toys.

“Can we eat now Henrietta? I’m starving”said Max.

“Let’s put the bin bag on the carpet so we don’t make a mess and we can have our midnight feast Max.”

We were in heaven as everything was so tasty but we felt very very tired. I put the bin bag into the waste basket and climbed back onto my chest and Maximus stepped into his bed. Both of us very very full and also very happy that there was still a big stash of meat in the freezer for Christmas Day. We still had Christmas sweets and dog treats and I had my doll!

The escapade had tired us out but it was an exciting night and we weren’t caught after all. I hurriedly hid the basket in the old trunk. My new doll was by my side and I was so happy.

“I’m very very tired” said Maximus, “I need my bed.”

I was so very tired too. It was a very long exciting night!

The following morning the little girl who was my owner came in and stood in front of me staring and observing. “Why are you wearing a torch on your head?” she enquired “And you have a dirty coat and these wellington boots are mine and far too big for you? And your face and hands are grubby! And where did the little doll come from? She looks very cute sitting next to you Henrietta”.

Phew ! I could keep my doll and let’s face it, I deserved my doll! Of course an old bear keeps quiet when humans are around as humans do not know that bears can speak.

“I’m going to ask mummy to wash your coat and I’ll clean your boots but firstly I’m taking off that head torch. What happened to you to get so dirty?”
I kept very still and could see Maximus looking up from his dog bed shaking his head at me.

I was being washed! Heck no! Bears do not like soap and water, this was my punishment and the very worst punishment! But, Maximus and myself had dog treats and sweets in the drawer to look forward to when the lights go out this evening.

I must say, I’m a rather wily old bear but need to thank dear Maximus for helping me. For now I can think about my next adventure … Watch this space … But firstly I’m looking forward to Christmas Day!!!

Copyright: Ann Harwood, My Old Teddy Bear.

My earliest bearhood memory …

I think I was born in 1940 but I can’t remember exactly. I know I can count to 10 but it has taken so many years to remember the numbers.

It was World War 2 and in the centre of London when something terrible happened – a bomb must have exploded!  I was lost and alone, sitting amidst a pile of rubble. I couldn’t see very well as the air was very thick and cloudy with dust flying everywhere.

Although my ears were ringing, I could slightly hear voices around me, but I was very frightened and thought I would never be found. It was such a shock that I couldn’t even remember my owner’s name or where I lived! Then, as I tried to stand up – I realised I could feel some wood wool fall from the back of my head onto my shoulders, my foot pads had been singed and now had holes in them but my arms were very shredded, wood wool was pouring out from every where!

I was a very frightened teddy bear! 

After recovering from the blast, my ears were ringing  and I was wondering about where I lived? Who was my owner ? I was trying very hard to think. It was very difficult as my wood wool kept falling onto my shoulders but I began to remember that I was having fun at a birthday party as I was a special present for a little girl called Beatrice. Feeling very sad and lonely, I suddenly heard a loud engine with big wheels stop very close to me. Apparently, it was the Skip man, and I knew he would throw me in the skip and take me to the tip as I looked so bad and that would be it! I would meet the fate of many a torn teddy bear who had been cast away due to their injuries. 

It wasn’t my fault and I was a very young bear even though quite tall, considering I must have only been 1 in bear years. I tried to smile sweetly at Mr Skip man but he gave me a curious stare,  grabbed me by my legs and cast me into the skip where there was some old newspapers, which he then loosely wrapped around me. 

I was  a very confused bear – if I was going to be taken to the tip then why did Mr Skip wrap me in some old newspaper? 

I was becoming a hopeful bear, even though there were lots of old things around me in the skip; Bits of wood, a toy yacht, a doll who had a head, but it had come off and was rolling around the skip as we were going around corners. I bravely forced myself to roll over as fast as I could to stop her head from falling onto the road, not easy being wrapped in newspaper, but I just managed in the nick of time, HOORAY!

In my new spot on the skip, I found a book lying near me, I could see a picture of a bear on the cover but I couldn’t read being only 1 year old. I liked the look of the bear and started to feel at home even though it wasn’t a real home.

All of a sudden we came to a dead stop, then I panicked! Had we reached the tip? I was shaking, and so scared I didn’t know what to expect. I could hear Mr Skip close his cab door and I knew I he was tottery and couldn’t see where he was going … I needed to roll over into the opposite side of the skip to see where we were.

I decided I had to make my escape but what about Dolly? I had rescued her head but I couldn’t just leave her behind. If this was the dreaded tip we had to get off quickly. I rolled really hard to see where I was … then oh! oh! … I was falling … falling off the side of the skip and then … bang! I was on the pavement. Mr Skip was just about to walk up his garden path and thankfully heard the rumpus as I also brought down dolly who caught her head as she was falling and then that was it – Dolly had broken her fall by landing on me! Urgh! Mr Skip looked down at us – I knew this was not a good look – we were definitely destined for the tip, where all broken bears, dolls and toys go when they are no longer looking in good repair. We only needed fixing but oh no, he was going to toss us straight back into the skip … but then suddenly, I shouted – “run Henrietta run, run, run!” forgetting that my pads we’re badly burnt!

Who was Henrietta? Was that my name? How did I think up such a name?

So much was buzzing around my head, and even more wood wool had fallen out from the back of my head, it was all over my tummy, and my arms were now broken as the fall had now made my arms very flat with dolly landing on me. I was very upset but then, … I don’t know what happened next but I must have fainted! … it was all too much for a young bear!

I woke up to find I was in Mr Skip man’s arms but, was going to help me or not? I was hoping he thought I was still a cute bear even though I was not looking my best.

It was then that I heard skipping. A little girl came skipping towards me screaming “Daddy! Daddy! – please can the poorly bear and dolly come into the house?”

“The bear has seen better days” said Mr Skip man “and dolly has her head in her hands”“but please”, said the little girl – “please don’t take them to the tip tomorrow. I know I can look after them”. The little girl seemed very friendly and she carried me into the house. Even though she was not that much taller than me, she was obviously determined to take care of me. Mr Skip picked up Dolly and carefully took her into the house as well.  “I’m going to look after you and ask mummy to become your nurse and make you better but for tonight you can sleep in my bedroom” she said, “and I will wrap you in a soft blanket to keep you warm and you can sleep on some cushions until the morning comes. Dolly can sleep in the cradle”. I was hungry but very tired and just as I was about to close my eyes I could just see the door slightly opening to a kind faced lady who then put out the lights. I had been rescued and all I could do was rest my eyes and think of myself as being a very lucky wartime bear to be taken in by such a very kind little girl. To be continued….

Copyright: Ann Harwood, My Old Teddy Bear.