"Oh," I said, when I saw him. Raj has big amber eyes and an incredibly wise expression. (You feel he's seen a lot. Which he probably has, among the old CDs and secondhand shoes in Oxfam.)
"I knew you'd like him," said my daughter.
Raj was, admittedly, slightly grubby in the tummy area. But we took him to the bathroom and sponged him lovingly with Pantene shampoo. His damp fur stood up in peaks.
As a family, we spend a lot of time in charity shops. And it's not just because they're cheap.
When my son was about 13, he grew like a weed. Despite getting through a whole bag of potatoes in one meal, he got incredibly thin, and ended up six foot tall but with the same 28" waist. Shopping for clothes was a nightmare. No one stocked 28W 34L.
But then we struck gold in our local Mind shop. Someone was offloading clothes that would only fit a tall skeleton – jeans, cotton shirts, huge chunky jumpers. We bought the lot.
My daughter's grown up in hand-me-downs. As a baby, she was dressed in clothes that belonged to Sara, my friend Eve's daughter. Now she wears secondhand stuff I bought when I was a teenager myself – lacy camisoles and jackets that I can't fit into any more.
So we're used to recycling.
But, I must admit, I was surprised by Raj. He was, obviously, an impulse buy. And a bargain at £3. But don't you grow out of soft, cuddly, waterbottle covers? Doesn't there come a point when, as a teenager, you're too cool for fluffy tigers?
In the bathroom, Raj was lying on his back under the radiator like a cat sunbathing. His damp fur had dried.
My heart melted.
Silly me. You never grow out of cuddly toys. Not if you're a girl, anyway.
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