Travelodge, a third of British adults still take their teddy to bed each night...
And I am not in the slightest bit ashamed to admit I am one of them. Except my stuffed animal of choice is a rhinoceros. Bought in a French hypermarket when I was 10, this little fellow has been my constant companion ever since through hospital visits, ill health, adolescence, leaving home, university, homeless hostels and everything in between. He's looking a bit tatty these days, but he still graces my pillow every night at home without fail.
However I rarely take him away with me from home. An interesting experience in an airport when I was about 11 where the security guard screamed upon finding a stuffed rhino in my hand luggage has made me slightly paranoid about keeping him close to me on flights. But wandering luggage a few times (courtesy of Easyjet) makes me terrified that he'll end up jetting off somewhere else in the world never to be seen again. And as Travelodge point out 75,000 other stuffed animal lovers have been careless enough to leave their companion behind when staying in a hotel. I think Rhine (oh come on, the French hypermarket was on the banks of the river. What else was I going to call him?) will be staying housebound from now on.
I can't speak for anyone else who still cuddles up to a stuffed toy in their 30s, but it was kind of inevitable that I would still be clinging onto at least one of mine like a overgrown child since I was obsessed by cuddly toys as a kid. I had several favourites over the years who I couldn't bear to be separated from even during the day, often trailing them round by the arm wherever I went.
My first love was a little black monkey called Ricky who came into my life when I was only months old. He and I were so inseparable that on our first family holiday abroad, my parents went back to the shop where he was purchased and bought a replacement just in case. Luckily there were no crises as I found the replacement in my parents' room, saw through the deception immediately, christening her Rebecca and ignoring her for the rest of my childhood. Ricky remained as the apple of my eye, being loved until he became threadbare and had to be filled up again with rice and stitched back together by my patient mother. He now sits on a bookcase in my bedroom, more closely resembling a half chewed liquorice allsort than a monkey, but still very much loved and a permanent reminder of childhood.
Then there was a soft squishy spider monkey with pleather paws called Malcolm who I coveted so much when my friend Ingrid owned another one like him that my parents took me shopping for specially. He wore a jaunty red ribbon to distinguish him from Ingrid's Malcolm (he came ready named with a tag sewn in) and we both carried our apes everywhere for months before we both fell madly in love with Disney's Wuzzles. We fell for different characters luckily. She had an Eleroo and I had a Rhinokey.
But even a cuddly genetic mutation couldn't hold my attention for long. There was also a stuffed Garfield, a handpuppet hedgehog called Horace that looked more like roadkill than the real deal, a Kevin the Gerbil in his pink and grey tracksuit, a bear with a bell in his ear from Hamley's and countless other soft squishy friends until I met my rhinoceros and he replaced all others in my affections for the next twenty years. Not bad going for a toy I had to beg my parents to buy me since he was a quite expensive piece of WWF merchandise that knowing my fickle nature they thought I would have tired of by the time we got home!
I've always thought I'll know I've met the right man when he doesn't mock me for the stuffed animal on my pillow or mind sharing a bed with it on occasion. Until then in the absence of a slew of cats or a collection of plastic bags, I'll be proudly revelling in my singledom by dozing off each night with a slightly balding pachyderm and hogging all the pillows...