Tobias says: “Polie was given to me by my grandma on the day I was born in 1993. My earliest memory of him is that he lost his eye under the foundations of my family home’s extension when I was very young. He has been a one-eyed bear even since, and I wouldn’t change that.
His primary communication method was to whisper in my ear, as only I could understand him. He went with me on the first day of school, where I accidentally dropped him in the mud, and I cried (establishing my macho reputation among all the other kids).
Sylvester the stuffed cat (of Looney Toons fame) was my brother’s counterpart to Polie, and he was Polie’s nemesis. Sylvester was responsible for all the damage ever done to Polie – but retaliation also came poor Sylvester’s way (even once having his head put down the loo). Luckily a truce emerged in our teenage years, though Polie still bears some scars. Once Polie was even decapitated in the seemingly endless war my brother and I had against each other’s stuffed toys. Historically he’s had about every repair you could think of! Grandma carried out repairs for the first twenty years, and I took over almost ten years ago. Sadly, my skills are poor and so Polie had several holes which were beyond my skill to fix. After a lifetime of repairs, he had also lost a considerable amount of stuffing. Now he has had patches and seam repairs at the toy hospital. My Grandma, now into her 90’s (though if you ask, she will tell you she’s 35) is almost as happy as I am with Polie being repaired. She wishes she could have done it herself, but age has snuck up on her.
Polie has been with me through the good times and the bad times, happy and sad – a constant of my life, even with me the morning of my wedding in 2019. Up until recently, I tended to take him on nearly every trip I made – from more local countries such as France, Spain, Portugal to places as far out as Japan, so he is quite possibly one of the more extensively-travelled polar bears out there.
He even once made a trip without me! When I was still young, about 8 years old, we had driven down to the south of France for a family holiday. On the final day, my parents were checking out of the hotel while my brother and I were fighting as usual at a table nearby. My parents quickly ushered us out and into the car – unbeknownst to me, Polie was still sat at the table, probably waiting for someone to bring him breakfast. I didn’t realise until we were almost back in England that he was gone. My parents did call the hotel, but the staff had changed over and they didn’t know anything of it.
I cried for two weeks, utterly heartbroken. One morning however, a package for me showed up in the post. It wasn’t Christmas or my Birthday, and I was too young to have discovered the evils of online shopping, so I had no idea what (or who) it would be. It turned out that a lady from Manchester had seen us leaving, before noticing that Polie had been unintentionally left behind. She scooped him up and went to the reception desk to ask for our surname and address (obviously GDPR would never allow this now!) With our name and address in hand, she took Polie all the way back to Manchester with her, before kindly proceeding to carry out some repairs of her own (my poor bear did go through the wars early on). Repairs complete, she boxed him up and sent him off, together with a lovely letter to me apologizing for the fact she couldn’t find the correct eye to give him!
I was overjoyed; and to this day I often think on the kindness shown by this complete stranger to me. I will be forever grateful to her for reuniting us.
Polie will now be having a few quiet months to recover, nestled on my bed. However, when the world reopens after Covid, I’m sure his adventurous side will take hold and we’ll be exploring again!