Stop this madness now! I have nothing against stuffed animals. In fact I’m in favour of them. I have my favourites, of course. I prefer the weatherbeaten knitted variety, or the shapeless bean ones, to the articulated ‘realistic’ creatures or the pastel horrors that clog amusement arcade grabbing machines. Why, only this morning I was admiring a fat and somewhat damp goose-esque thing in Pete’s bathroom. In fact, let’s face it, I own quite a few of them myself – a very old panda and a large and contented-looking penguin being the star attractions. You might be nodding in sympathy or reaching for your mouse in disgust at this admission, but the point is that I’m not a rabid plushophobe.

But there are limits. I don’t think I’m being unduly severe when I say that stuffed toys should generally be confined to quarters, i.e. the bedroom. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them in bathrooms or kitchens, too, but I’d raise my eyebrows if they invaded living rooms and would be frankly shocked if they made it out onto the streets. And there is one place where they should absolutely, definitively, not trespass: the pub. Last night, during an excellent evening spent celebrating Tim’s birthday at the Old Cheshire Cheese, I was horrified to see a plush tiger be passed around for several hours. The animal pulled ‘cute’ faces, sat on people’s heads, reduced sensible pubgoers to cooing human jellies, and generally made a fearful nuisance of itself. I do not believe I stand alone in calling for an immediate end to soft toys in pubs. Stimulating conversations about football, tar barrels, cider armadilloes and the star sign Xerxes (remind us to tell you about the star sign Xerxes sometime) were menaced by the bumptious quasi-feline comforter. It must not be allowed to happen again!