They have opened a toyshop near where I live. It is a nice toyshop, a small toyshop. An old-fashioned size of toyshop. Not the size of Old Trafford, with a ball pool and trolley park. There are no out-of-work actors bellowing a toothy welcome as you cross the threshold, while clumsily piloting a tiny model aircraft in uncomfortably close rings around your head.
In this small, local toyshop, you can find a shangri-la for borderline OCD sufferers like myself. Along one wall is row upon perfectly aligned row of plastic animals, in every species you can think of – unless you are, like, David Attenborough, in which case you can probably think of a few more – standing obediently to attention in their plastic pens. This is just the half of it…
While their silent, static march is a paragon of regimented order, some of the animals strike curious poses, as Prince would say, if only he could see them. The lion, for example, has one paw aloft.
On one hand, this could represent a sort of camp wave, a la Lenny The Lion. More likely, it is a paw raised in readiness to club you around the head - as nonchalantly as if it was swatting away a fly on a warm day, yet with enough power to floor you and remove half your face. I hope this is the case, as it teaches an important lesson often neglected by parents and toy manufacturers, which is that animals are DANGEROUS and can KILL YOU. Children should not be disarmed by plush and posable limbs. They should be warned of the risks of literally being disarmed. Real animals do not always respond fondly to being enthusiastically hugged or dressed in doll's clothes. They rarely whistle or sing. They do not like to sleep on a human bed with lots of other animals, or be propped up on a blanket in the company of some dolls and pretend-fed weak orange squash from a plastic tea service. Also, adding an over-familiar '-y' suffix to their name will not help.
This swan is also part of the same Red In Tooth & Claw range. His wings are raised ominously. And everyone knows what a swan can do when provoked.