The panda lumbered over to the little girl and grinned widely.
‘Come and have adventures with me,’ he entreated.
‘Thank you, but no,’ she replied.
‘Good,’ said the panda starting off before turning around, amazed. ‘What do you mean, no?’
‘You’re a stranger and you know what the adults say,’ explained the little girl.
‘I’m not strange. I’m big and friendly,’ asserted the panda indignantly.
‘You are strange to me,’ said the little girl, matter-of-factly. ‘I don’t know you.’
‘You don’t need to know me. I’m in a children’s story. Children kill to play with me. It’s a no-brainer.’
‘I still can’t go with you. And I can’t get into your panda car and eat your sweets either.’
‘I don’t have wheels and I haven’t got any sweets, Sunshine. I don’t need them. I’m big and friendly and in publishing.’
‘Still can’t go. Mummy says so.’
‘Then Mummy needs to learn how kids get a name for themselves these days, kiddo. It’s media exposure all the way.’
‘Don’t want meedier spojer,’ said the little girl calmly. ‘Just have to go with people I know.’
‘For the last time, I’m not a bloody paedophile. I’m a big, friendly, publishing panda.’
‘Well, you’re big, it’s true,’ the little girl replied. ‘But I don’t think you’re very friendly. And you don’t have any gummy bears to swing it.’
And she bid good day to the panda and carried on picking her scab.