ONLY the heartless could fail to be moved by notices posted around the city offering £200 for the return of a treasured teddy bear.

The fact that it was stolen along with intrinsically more valuable items – a lap top to name but one – says much for the grieving owner. All she wants is Ted's return. The bear was given to her at birth by a grandmother who never lived beyond her granddaughter's first six months. She never saw her develop and eventually earn a place at Oxford. The teddy bear was the only tangible link, a priceless treasure.

There is a contact number – 07770 926106. I would like to think it will be used, not only to reunite Teddy and his friend of 21 years but also to give notice where Teddy can be safely found – perhaps from where it was taken, Turl Street Kitchen?

And to make it a really happy ending, there would be no £200 claim.

Someone has done pretty well with the other ill-gotten gains. It would also show that sometimes a thief can have a softer side.

JOHN IRVIN was 24 when he first opened the well-stocked gifts and souvenir stall at the top of St Ebbe's Street. That was 33 years ago. Now with the Westgate Centre crashing down around his ears, he is on the move.

He and city council officers have met and the latter are trying to find an alternative spot– albeit a temporary one for he hopes to return to the site once the new Westgate rises from the rubble. There are two generations who have known no one else at the stall. He is part of city centre furniture and the council realises that.

What's more he also runs the nearby Oxford Mail newspaper kiosk and, as far as we're concerned, a good vendor is hard to find.

THERE'S a sentimental edge to today's column, so we'll end with next week's production at the Playhouse Theatre of Terence Rattigan's wartime play, Flare Path.

First performed in 1942, it tells of temptation on the home front when the wife of a pilot meets a former lover and love and duty come into conflict.

I never saw the play – I was three at the time – and until now have never had the opportunity.

But I remember a now departed aunt in her later years, all misty eyed and waxing on about it and the message it gave. Temptation was all around, she said. Would husbands return? Should happiness be grabbed where and when it could? She would smile wistfully...

It seemed better not to ask how long my Uncle Jack had served overseas.