As I was passing Herne Hill's branch of Oxfam early on Saturday morning, I saw this donation left outside the closed shop – seemingly staged for maximum pathos.
There's something I find heartbreakingly stoic about the bear that has managed to remain upright. At some point over the last 14 hours or so, since the shop shut the day before, his previous owner had left him there. Maybe he watched them walking further and further away on their enviably sturdy human legs, into the distance or around the corner, expecting them to turn round and give a reassuring little wave at any moment, but in vain. Maybe their eyes met – the human's guilty, the bear's a little baffled – in the rear-view mirror as the car pulled away.
Who knows what ran through his soft, stuffed mind in the intervening time – the determination to embrace this unusual day out, excitement at witnessing south London's local colour, the conviction that this was only a temporary arrangement and he would be returning home any minute now, precariously suppressed terror at any passing urban fox or squirrel, surprise at the darkening of night and subsequent dawn, and then, some time at about 7am, a faltering of furry faith...
The white bear, meanwhile, all drama and emotion, had clearly been totally overwhelmed by his feelings of abandonment quite some hours ago.