When I was about seven or eight years old my father bought me a very large stuffed toy. It had huge pointy teeth, a pimply green nose and horns, and my brother and I immediately fell in love with it. After racking my brains for a suitable name for him I came up with Monster, but he was so dearly loved we decided he deserved a last name too, so we went for the obvious choice: Nicodemoo.

Monster Nicodemoo, we decided, was an alien who had crash-landed on earth in his tiny spaceship (which looked suspiciously like a cardboard box) and had been taken in and looked after by a rich and famous singer. Of course, my older brother got to play the part of the rich and famous singer and I was resigned to the part of Uncle Johnny, the singer's brother who visited occasionally. This little play went on for some years, becoming ever more detailed and complex, until it even featured top-secret intelligence agencies and a Knight Rider style car.

As time went by Monster became more real to us, almost becoming like another family member. However, as time went by our minds also became unusually twisted for our young ages, and the whole thing degenerated from a happy game of friendly aliens and rich pop stars to a tale of sickening abuse.

Monster now lived with us, his evil masters, in a huge dungeon-like house, bizarrely named The House of Lords. Living in filth and squalor, Monster was ritually beaten and humiliated, oppressed and tortured physically, emotionally and mentally. We would lure him over with promises of food and sweets, only to kick him hard into the wall and laugh. We would then feign remorse and apologise profusely for our terrible behaviour, slowly gaining his trust just so we could crush him further when we beat him again, even more violently than before. Occasionally we'd even pretend to brutally rape him and force-feed him some of the most horrible things I wouldn't like to go into detail about ("cream crackers" anyone?). We weren't even old enough do that kind of thing for real.

Eventually his eyes fell off because we kept jamming his face into a 100-watt desk lamp, pretending to blind him. His nose also came off after months of us using a soldering iron to burn holes in it. One of his horns lost its stuffing, and a tear in his neck grew to such a degree that his head was hanging off his body by a small piece of material.

We were bad, bad people who probably shouldn't be allowed outdoors but, despite all of the abuse, the day Monster went into the dustbin at my mother's hands was a sad day indeed. Even now, almost ten years after his demise, when I think back to all the years of fun he brought into my childhood, some more innocent than others, I still miss Monster Nicodemoo. It was almost like losing a family member, and sadly I know there will never be another like him.

Which is probably just as well...

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