Bearing up under the strain

I LEARNED something this week. An arctophile is not someone who likes cold places but is a lover or collector of teddy bears.

When I was a boy, a stuffed toy elephant was my choice of companion. I can’t remember how old I was when I decided that I had grown out of Ellie and he was put up in the loft.

It was a long time later when he was rediscovered, covered in dust and so moth-eaten that he was falling apart. The bin was his final resting place.

I can’t say that I wish Ellie was still with me as he belonged to my childhood, so I was amused to discover that a third of British adults still sleep with a teddy bear.

The amazing fact emerged from a survey conducted with 6,000 people. Thirty-five per cent of them admitted they sleep with their teddy because they found cuddling the bear comforting. And the calming feeling of a bear hug also helped them to de-stress after a hard day, which aided sleep.

A quarter of males questioned said they take their teddy away with them on business trips as it reminded them of home and the bear was a substitute for a bedtime cuddle with their partner.

The research also reveals that a touch over half of British adults still have a teddy bear from their childhood and the average bear is 27 years old.

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Some are very secretive about their cuddly companions. One in 10 single men admitted they hide their teddy when their girlfriend stays over. Fourteen per cent of married men confessed to hiding their bear in the wardrobe or under the bed when family or friends come to call.

It is interesting that more men than women – 15 per cent compared to 10 per cent – said they treat their teddy as their best friend and will share their intimate secrets with them.

Another revelation to me this week is the existence of a magazine called Teddy Bear Times.

Yes, there really is one. Its insightful editor, Dawn James, was quoted as saying: “Teddy bears represent happiness and security in childhood.

“They are the best friend that always listens and never criticises. This is why so many adults hang on to their childhood bears, because they see them as a lifelong friend.”

Put that way, it does make me wonder whether it is too late to get myself a bear. Perhaps just a little one will do.

It may not be surprising that so many men cherish their teddies, as it seems that they are losing the number one spot in women’s affections and are in danger of being kicked off their usual spot on the sofa.

Research reveals that women are turning more to their four-legged friends for emotional support, with one in three ladies saying they cuddle their pets to cheer themselves up instead of talking to their partner.

It really is a dog’s life for men these days and it’s almost more than some can bear.