The Teddy Bear Conspiracy

IMAG0235The early morning quiet of the antique shop was broken by the loud ringing of its large retro telephone. Swivelling around in her creaking chair, Rebecca reached across a desk on which items of bric-a brac were untidily scattered, and lifted its heavy red receiver. She knew who it would be – her accountant.

“Hi Mike. Yes, yes, I saw the post,” she said with a sigh, glancing down at the sheaf of bills on the desk – demands for rent, rates, phone and the electric. To top it all, the taxman was now chasing what was owed to him. She listened patiently to the lecture, that she needed to adopt a more business-like approach otherwise Butterfly Antiques, her beloved shop here in Victorian Southsea, was about to go under.

“It’s just a cash flow thing,” she said. “It will all be sorted next week, I assure you. Yes, I get how serious it is. Ok, bye.”

Dropping the receiver back in its 1970s cradle, she leaned back in the chair, clasping her hands behind her head and puffing out her cheeks. Cash flow thing – what a laugh. She had no idea what it meant – it was just something people said, and seemed to get away with, when they were in financial trouble. The truth was she had no head for business – her real love was the beautiful old ornaments, the war medals, and the classic childhood toys she encountered through running this shop – imagining where they had come from and dreaming what stories they could tell.

Beside her sat a large tea chest, its contents the product of a recent attic clearance at a house in nearby Duncan Street. One item immediately caught her eye – sitting atop some leather-bound books and a couple of brass candlesticks was an old teddy bear – brown fur a bit worn in places and a little saggy around the middle. However, there was no denying the cuddly warmth of his expression.

“My, aren’t you a cutie,” she said, picking him up and sitting him on top of the bills. Of course, the bills! “Mr Bear, I need you to do me a favour,” she said, experience telling her that an old bear in reasonable condition like this might fetch around £10 -£15. In Rebecca’s position, every little helped.

On the computer, she called up the Ebay shop that Mike had helped her set up for Butterfly Antiques. He’d said it was about time her business moved into the 21st century, and that shops like hers nowadays needed to have what he called an “on-line presence”. Whatever.

“Ok then, Mr Bear, let’s give you a try on here.” She took a photo on her phone and uploaded it, along with some details, asking for offers over £10.

Thirty minutes later, at a canalside pavement cafe in Antwerp, Belgium, a man with dark glasses sat sipping a latte macchiato. His Iphone rang.

“Yes, what is it?” he said.

“It’s turned up,” said a voice on the other end of the line. The man with dark glasses leaned forward, his face now fixing into a concentrated stare.

“Where?”

“It’s just been posted on Ebay.”

“Are you sure it’s the one?”

“There’s no doubt, it’s the bear.”

“But I thought it had been destroyed in the blaze. Is it, you know…..intact?”

“It looks to be so. It’s incredible, I know, but we have to move fast.”

“We must get it,” instructed the man in dark glasses. “Get it – at any cost!” He terminated the call.

Back in Southsea, at Butterfly Antiques, it was now a little later in the morning, and Rebecca paused from cataloguing the newly acquired stock to check her Ebay shop. The page refreshed. Her jaw dropped. An offer had been made for the teddy bear. It was in the sum of £100,000!

Was this for real, she wondered? It took a few moments to sink in, but having checked the terms on which offers were made, it all appeared genuine. Gosh, Mike will be pleased, she chuckled. And yet, her overwhelming feeling was one of great curiosity. She looked down at the little bear, still sat on the desk beside the computer screen. “Someone wants you,” she said. “Someone wants you very, very badly.” She turned to gaze dreamily out through the shop front window.

“But why?”

 

Masquerade

maskFor Valentina it had been a delightful evening at the Viennese Masque Ball. Christmas was approaching, and the festive mood was set by a  truly wonderful chamber orchestra playing rousing music, with lively dancing, delicious canapes and sparkling wine – all in the traditional setting of an original 18th Century country mansion. Furthermore, she was enjoying the company of her charming and mysterious masqued suitor.

As midnight approached, the couple withdrew to the quiet of the balcony, bathed in the silvery light of the winter moon. This was the time, she thought, to solve the enigma that had been puzzling her all evening.

“Do tell me,” she said. “I have to know, who is the man who has so entertained me all evening, the man behind that dramatic mask?”

Pausing, he slowly removed the mask, and looked straight into her dark eyes. Instantly, fear flashed across her face like lightning. Dark and painful memories she had thought left dormant leapt suddenly to the forefront of her mind, as she realised what a fool she had been. He was back.

The Seer

2012-10-29 11.34.13Celebrated in her own community as a “Seer” during her short life, she was taken tragically at an early age.  And yet, her presence lives on as the photograph shows. Some would have you believe that she continues to be able to foresee the future – that if you look into her eyes, they may suddenly, and surprisingly, blink open and stare back at you, indicating that a significant life event – good or bad – is imminent…….

Post inspired by this photo I took by the Lachine Canal in Montreal

Behind the Door

pebblesShe has seen the line of terraced whitewashed cottages before – every day from the upstairs window of the bus on the way to her shift at the factory. Yet in her recurring dream they have been transposed to another location – a cliff top path.

She is walking along that path, the cottages to her left, the blinding glare of the midday summer sun bouncing off their pale walls. On her right, she can hear the faint sound of the waves far below dragging the pebbles across the ocean floor, and feel the mist from the chill sea spray across her cheekbone.

It is always the same point at which she stops, turning to gaze across the wrought iron gate at one particular cottage door. She has yet to lift the latch of the gate and walk up to the door. Perhaps she will do that one night in the dream, maybe even knock upon the door.

And find out at long last: who or what is behind the door?

Up

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Another of my shots taken on a cloudy day at the viewing deck on the 72nd Floor of London’s Shard, this time looking skywards to the very top of the building.

Cloud Busting

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Visiting London for the Kate Bush concert, I spend the afternoon beforehand at the Shard – the latest addition to the city skyline and the tallest building in Western Europe. However, on exiting the elevator at the 72nd Floor, the viewing deck is so surrounded by clouds that the view over London is all but obscured. I focus my camera instead on the angular shapes of the amazing glass structure and the visitors interacting with it.