Call me Ronald. My full name is Squeaky Ronald Reagan, a Spitting Image dog toy, although no dog has ever played with me. And now no dog ever will.
Aelwyn started it. He won me in a New Statesman competition. Not having a dog, not being a fan of the real Ronald Reagan, and judging me ugly, he designated me a sort of negative trophy, and he and Kath infiltrated me into their son Rob’s luggage just before departure.
Rob made sure I came back with them after their next visit to Edinburgh. Then on their next visit, Aelwyn hid me at the back of Rob and Fiona’s booze cupboard, among all the undrinkable holiday souvenirs. I was there for a few months.
Then Rob decided to involve his brother Rik’s family, and hid me in little Alice’s bag just before the end of the holiday. But Alice heard her bag squeak just in time and handed me back to Rob.
And so it went. Rob had me presented to Rik’s family with their welcome flowers when they arrived at Disneyworld. From four hundred miles away, Rik conspired with a co-operative neighbour to get me placed on Rob’s driveway. Rob hid me in a recess under a small statue in Rik’s garden, and when there was no sign that anyone was looking for me, sent Rik a virtual jigsaw piece every day by email hinting at where to look, until I was found.
And Rik persuaded the local florist to include me with Rob and Fiona’s joint birthday flowers. And Rob persuaded Chorleywood bookshop to pop me into a bag along with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to be presented to their niece Rachel soon after midnight. Rik acquired a matching Margaret Thatcher, and left her next to me in the spare bed in Edinburgh. Happy days.
And Rob acquired a domain name with Rik’s name in it and posted pictures of me on tour in the US and Canada. Rik persuaded Rachel to set up a dummy website with the same address as Rob’s work site, but .co.uk, displaying Rob’s usual environmental journalism beneath a large picture of me. Unfortunately when asked, Rachel was unable to reverse her handiwork. Rik had me presented to Lindsay as a special award from her trampoline club.
And Rob wrapped me as a joint Christmas present for Rachel and Alice. Rik and Debbie insisted on providing the cake for Rob and Fiona’s sixtieth birthday party, and the cake squeaked as soon as the knife came down. No-one was rushing to eat it. Rob hid me among the Christmas decorations in Rik’s house, so I was discovered in mid-December with the Festive Banana, under the tinsel. When Rob and Fiona went to Paris to see the Arc de Triomphe wrapped in fabric by an artist, Rik sent a photo of me joining the fun.
Eventually the game slowed down and then stopped as they ran out of ideas. I sat and gathered dust in a drawer for years and years. I thought I’d been forgotten. Until five days ago. Then I heard a woman’s voice saying “found him”. I heard whispering and giggling, and a hushed conversation in an office. I was placed in a huge wooden box, next to something large and slightly unsavoury. I heard an old man chuckle as the lid closed.
And now it’s getting warm. Very warm.