Well over halfway through our advent calendar, and we have not had a single cute and cuddly animal. That can’t be right, can it?
We had better fix it.
So here’s your teddy bear. With a knife. And realistic (real?) teeth.
Saturday, as previously discussed on the Big Bad Blog, was reserved for fish:
And oh, what a day we had.
The day began in a backpack. A walk, on a pleasant morning, from our flat to the tube station.
Once aboard the train, however, what little must remain of the novelty of being carried high above we mere mortals – slaves to her whims – expired. Maggie wanted to be on foot.
So on foot we went. From the Overground to the Jubilee line. From the Jubilee to the South Bank. To the queue. Marching, ever marching. Standing on escalators. Barely deigning to hold Daddy’s hand — and then only doing so because otherwise our little walker would have to face the indignity of being carried.
And then, fish.
There were two happy things about the aquarium. First being that Maggie has been hiding her patience somewhere — perhaps saving it up for a time when it was needed. We arrived early, but not early enough to avoid a queue at the door. And she waited patiently for nearly half an hour to get to the front, and into the aquarium, despite having little idea as to why she was waiting.
Second, Maggie seemed to enjoy the aquarium. Here’s a short list of things that she loved:
By the time we were done, it was lunch time, and a cranky Maggie was back in the backpack. But not for long.
A word of wisdom to other parents with backpacks: be very cautious when adjusting the straps.
The day had become warm by this point, and Maggie and I had removed our coats. This meant for loose straps — no good. So, as a good father, I tightened them. As an incompetent father, I did a poor job.
Halfway across Westminster Bridge, Maggie was tapping me on the head. She wanted down.
“Not now, little one. Wait until we get to the restaurant.”
Thirty seconds later, a little person was climbing out of a backpack that remained affixed to my back. Only my ninja-like dexterity ensured that the now-no-longer-strapped-in little girl remained perched precariously upon the backpack while being lowered to the ground.
As soon as she was out, she attempted to run off into the mass of people who magically appear at London tourist destinations on warm, sunny Saturdays.
Again, my ninja-like dexterity allowed me to corral her, and place her in my arms.
Later, we would discover that I had failed to secure the straps after making sure they were the right length. I’d call it a “rookie mistake”, but I’m pretty sure that’s demeaning to the rookies out there.
In any case, we were bump and bruise free. Soon lunched, we found ourselves at Oxford Circus.
Near Oxford Circus, on Regent Street, is a toy store. I would call it a small toy store, were it not the biggest motherfucking toy store I’ve ever set foot in.
We entered. I removed the backpack. I let Maggie out.
“Alright, sweetie. As long as you stay in the store, you can go wherever you like. I’ll follow.”
Maggie – who has never been in the store before, to my knowledge – heads straight for the escalator. Up to the fourth floor. Straight to a table containing Playmobil toys. And plays with the police car and officer who had clearly been summoned to handle crowd control outside the horrible disaster area that was the crash site of the doomed Pacific Airline fight A1.
I had a cunning plan — OK, a foolish plan — that I would allow Maggie to get one thing. She had chosen her one thing, a Mister Men book, ensured that she couldn’t change her mind by damaging the merchandise, and then decided to change her mind and choose a bear.
“No, Maggie. You can only get one thing, and we have to buy the book now.”
Wrong answer, daddy-o.
The girl throws herself on the ground, grievously wounded by her sudden inability to get a really crappy teddy bear that was cunningly placed at a child’s eye-level just before you get to the till.
And then she was truly grievously wounded, as a bad, bad, bad man (who is not me) accidentally trod on her fingers. And stood on them, unaware that her screaming had changed from “oh why, oh why can I not have a teddy” to “ohmyfuckinggod, myfingersmyfingersMYFINGERS!”
Shortly thereafter, we were in the bear section, getting a second thing.
Meet Koala Walla, the newest member of Maggie’s growing family of furry friends.
Koala Walla chased the tears away, turning pain into a memory. And soon Maggie was back in the pack, with firmly affixed restraints, head buried in Koala Walla’s furry belly, heading towards a blissful sleep.
And I, not wanted to disturb the young lady with trains, crowds, buses, or other distractions, headed to the riverside and enjoyed the long walk home.
All photos by Mr. Topp, some rights reserved, taken on March 10th, 2012. Photographic assistance and modelling by Maggie Rose Topp.
I want to rant about the insanity, but I think all I can do is link to this newspaper story, and quote a few choice excerpts.
British toy manufacturers are concerned that the new rules, which include defining colouring books and anything played with by under-14s, could drive up the price of Christmas presents because of the cost of safety tests.
It doesn’t say it outright, but it seems clear that colouring books now need to go through extensive safety testing. Which seems more than a little silly.
All teddie bears meant for children under the age of three will now have to be fully washable because EU regulators are concerned that dirty cuddly toys could spread disease and infection.
All those who regularly wash teddy bears (or even know if their children’s teddy bears are washable, raise your hands!
For latex balloons there must be a warning that children under eight years must be supervised and broken balloons should be discarded.
Dangerous, those balloons. Children could die of unsupervised balloon exposure!
Little did I know that my childhood — full of seldom-washed teddy bears and unsupervised balloon play — was such a dangerous place. These new rules make me want to rant. Really, really, really make me want to rant.
But the rant is tired and obvious. You’re imagining it already — in fact, you are probably even ranting in your own head.
Needless to say, Maggie is allowed to play with balloons. And will be permitted to colour on paper that has not gone through extra thorough EU testing. Because I won’t let her grow up in a world where she can’t colour in a book unless that book has been thoroughly tested for … whatever it is that you would test a colouring book for.
Recently on the Big Bad Blog, we wrote about the guilt we feel when a project hits a snag. We are all about the projects, here at the Big Bad Blog, given that the Blog itself is a project. We do not like to fail at them.
The other side of the project coin is the inspiration side.
When it comes to photography, there is no end of inspiration available on the Internet — fantastic photographers sharing their work, professional photographers and their portfolios, legions of Tumblrs sharing the best of what they find, and horrible photographers who seem to nevertheless make a living as professionals in the field.
They provide new ideas and concepts to explore. A level to which to aspire, and the impression that I am doing something right.
But it is rare to find something which translates directly to my own photography project — The Maggie-A-Day. Hobbies are taking a back seat to the baby these days, and the best way around that is to combine the hobby and the baby. Additionally, I love taking photos of my daughter, and the feedback from friends and family who seem to enjoy the new direction my hobby has taken.
So Maggie, each and every day.
But, like any daily project is probably bound to do, Maggie-A-Day has stalled of late. There are too many days when the camera doesn’t come out. Procrastination or exhaustion eliminate the small window of time I have each day. A more specific inspiration — inspiration for the project — is more important, and harder to find.
It is hard to tell whether he approached photographing his daughter as a project, or simply took many photos of her over the years — he himself indicates that the significance of the photos were discovered retrospectively. But watching his daughter grow up and transform, through the photographs he presents of her, is remarkable.
So we would like to thank Mr. Radcliffe for reminding us why it is important to fight the exhaustion and make use of those few moments each day which are available for the project.