Why I should never be let loose in the soft toy department

Once upon a time, about twenty years ago, Fran realised it was her grandparents' Golden Wedding Anniversary. 'Darling, I must away to the shops at once to purchase something for my grandparents' Golden Wedding Anniversary,' she said to Husband.

Husband shifted uneasily. He was asking himself several questions. 1. Why has she called me darling? This must be to do with spending money. 2. Why is she talking like a character from an 18th century poem; since when did we 'away' anywhere? It's definitely to do with money if she's trying to use archaic language ironically. 3. Why is she using the word 'purchase' instead of buy? Yes, it's money all right.

Seeing her chance while Husband was still busy uneasily shifting, Fran legged it to the town.

At the shops, Fran looked for something golden. She looked at matching sets of jewellery. Ugh. She looked at golden-coloured boxes for trinkets. Ugh. She looked at anniversary plates with gold trimming which could be hung on a wall. Ugh. She looked at despair.

Then she spotted Wilfred, a toy duck, in the soft toy department. Wilfred didn't know he was called Wilfred at this point. Neither did Fran. Wilfred didn't actually know what the hell he was, being the most un-duck-like-looking toy duck in toy duck history. Here is a description of Wilfred [I haven't yet learned to post pictures, so listen up]:

  • not shaped like a duck

  • shaped like a duck that has been dropped from a great height and gone SPLAT on a hard surface so that he has a totally flat base and all the duck features have been shoved upwards

  • body two feet long and beak eight inches long, so proportionally more anteater than duck

  • two flippers, each about six inches long, sticking out on either side of his body, so proportionally, more aeroplane than duck

  • no legs in between body and flippers

  • wearing a yellow bow

  • coloured yellow (this was his only real duck feature, but without all the others, he could have been a banana, the sun or a cheap light bulb)

Fran fell in love with Wilfred. He would make, she thought, a great Golden Wedding Anniversary present for her grandparents. Yes, it was different, but it was original. And golden. Kind of. And she bet they'd never ever been given a duck which didn't look like a duck before.
On meeting Wilfred for the first time, Husband disagreed with Fran's decision. For a duck which didn't look like a duck (and, he said, a Golden Wedding Anniversary present that didn't look ANYTHING LIKE a Golden Wedding Anniversary present) it had cost a bloody fortune. Husband thought Fran should take Wilfred back immediately, get the cash back, and buy a plate with a gold trim, like any sensible person would have done.
Fran's argument that putting a plate on a wall was just as deviant as owning a duck which didn't look like a duck did not impress Husband.
But, by now, Fran was in love with Wilfred-who-wasn't-yet-Wilfred. Being one who always supported the underduck, Fran felt that he needed to be given a home. She cried. She cried some more. She cried some more. Husband gave in, quicker than you can say 'the old methods are the best' and not-yet-Wilfred now had a new owner.
Fran christened him Wilfred, which was her grandfather's name, and placed him on the bed, where he has been for twenty years. Then she must-awayed back to the shops, bought a vile and horrid plate with gold trim and sent this off to her grandparents for their Golden Wedding Anniversary present.
They loved the plate. Fran loved Wilfred. And they all lived happily ever after. Except that, every single day, for twenty years, Husband has been told NOT TO LEAVE WILF ON THE BEDROOM FLOOR as it's demeaning enough to be a duck who doesn't look like one, without being left on the floor like an old sock.
So, not always that happily, then.


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