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Skidmore's Island, Skidmore's Island: Oh My God

"What a thing of vanity is man who believes himself the image of God. With his manifest talent as a designer why would God.'' writes Ian Skidmore.

I forget which German philosopher said that you could not make anything straight from the twisted timber of mankind but I reckon he was on the money. The problem is that we look on Him with Stone Age Eyes as an explanation for the weather. Thunder and lightning, God angered; Sunshine, God fruitful; Darkness, God sleeping.

I agree with Randolph Churchill: He has been created by people who did not like Him. When Randolph read the bible for the first time in middle age he told Evelyn Waugh, “God is a complete shit.” If you pay any attention to the bible no other explanation is possible. Ask gullible Abraham. And when you think what God did to His own son…….

I have shopped around a bit over the past eight decades. Now as I paw with growing impatience on the Pearly Gates I am thinking of advising Him to reposition Himself in the market. Change his image into something that gives off vibes of benevolence, loyalty and love. Something on the lines of Winnie The Pooh.

As an only child my Teddy was my first and only constant companion. We discovered the world together and mutually reassured ourselves when we found what dodginess was on offer. He was always ready to fall in with my plans. He would fight me, console me and watch over me when I slept. My mother used to claim there were four angels round my bed: one to guard, one to pray and two to carry my soul away. What did she know? Teddy and I would fight any angel of equal weight and reach.

Teddy had been around. He knew that a bear gets tubby without exercise. As A.A. Milne discovered, he gets what exercise he can, by falling off the ottoman. As all scholars know, the group noun for Teddy Bears is a Hug. When my great grandson was born I sent him a platoon of my Teddy’s successors, highly trained in all aspects of child watching. There were plenty to choose from here at Bear Command.

Over the years the Ferret and I have marked happy moments by recruiting bears. Our recent wedding anniversary was marked by bear bride and groom; at Christmas a festive bear greets guests. There is a Cambridge, bear capped and gowned, in memory of a jolly lunch; a Mountie bear and a fox hunter in a livery of hunting pink, an archbishop bear and monk bears. A Mohammed bear marks the fuss Muslims made that time when a teacher gave his name to the class bear. There are Guardsman bears, a giant Paddington bear my mother made for my sixtieth birthday, Pooh bears with attendant piglets and Eeyore. They sleep in drawers,waiting like King Arthur's knights, for a call to arms.

On duty still is a Cadre of Fighting Bears from my Regimental Charity, Help the Heroes. The Last Bear from Woolworth's is there and a stylish bear, a present from the painter Maria Saxe Ledger, a descendant of a medieaval saint whose embalmed body greets communicants in St Gallen in Switzerland. In her youth Maria had been the loveliest aristocrat in Europe and at 89, exiled to a valley in Wales, still painted her patent leather knee boots with clear nail polish and flew the Swiss flag in her garden so that the local Nationalists would not mistake her for a Sais. We lunched in a barn in the garden she had turned into a baronial hall with huge silver candle sticks, tapestries and a nude painting of her at twenty. The Bears and I contribute to several bear charities. We were a little shocked when one of them, Saving Moon Bears, sent us an invitation to a fund raising evening - of belly dancing. The belly is quite excited but I have told it that it is not an invitation to a belly ball.


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