My Favourite Childhood Toy

April 28, 2008 at 1:10 pm (Uncategorized)

I’ve got an hour and a half left of home internet access, and Llew’s still at work (10:34 pm Sydney time), so I thought I’d better take advantage of the time and opportunity to offer you a bit more than I managed earlier today. If you read the comments attached to last week’s blog about content, then you won’t be surprised that I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired today. After a dip in morale, it usually takes me a few days to recover, and my latest MS assessment, for all its positives, certainly felt like a slug in the guts. I’m past that now, but until about half an hour ago I hadn’t quite recovered the appetite for writing that is ordinarily such a constant. I recognise the pattern now, so I no longer panic when I sit staring at the screen and find I have not one thing to say.

My friend Sarah sent around a ‘get to know your friends’ quiz to a few of us this evening. You know the drill: what’s your least favourite food? What do you fear? What colour crayon would you be? And two of the questions reminded me of things about myself I would never have thought to tell anyone, quite personal things in some ways, but perhaps only for being private up ’til now (I enjoy those quizzes, so I dutifully sent it back to Sarah with my own answers and forwarded it as instructed to nine other girlfriends).

The first was do you wish on stars? My answer was ‘No, but I do sometimes pretend that they’re deceased loved ones, and I have been known to attempt the occasional chat.’ It made me wonder if anyone else has ever done this… I’ve done it ever since my grandma died. I was 16, so not a child, but I found it hugely comforting to pick a star and pretend it was Grandma. I’d tell her things, I’d worry about stuff, I’d ask for help and strength and wisdom. Perhaps that does qualify as wishing on a star after all. Grandma isn’t alone up there in my night sky anymore. My star spirits now include Granddad and Sam, my niece. I still do gaze up there some nights and imagine they’re in the stars above, and I still whisper things to them, and it’s still a comfort, silly as it is (and as embarrassed as I’d be if anyone came up behind me and caught me in the act). I don’t know that I’ll ever stop.

The second question was what was your favourite toy as a child? For a second, this had me utterly stumped. I couldn’t think of a single toy. Sitting here now I do remember a doll called Baby Alive, but I’m not sure if it was mine or my sister’s, nor if it was I or she who spitefully drew blue crayon whiskers all over the doll’s vacant face. Time has erased the culprit’s true identity, but the look of the doll is vivid in my mind. At any rate, Baby Alive was not the answer. The answer was Granddad’s Jaguar.

Granddad was a mechanic. He owned a white Jaguar when I was a kid that imbued in me a deep, abiding love for a car’s physical beauty. I am a great admirer of graceful vehicles, although I still do not drive myself (hey, I’m all for being driven). I loved that car. It was definitely my favourite toy, by miles, because to me it was practically a movie set. A world unto itself. Oh the stories I made up for myself sitting in the back of that car. It didn’t have to be moving for me to play with the Jag. Nope. Many an afternoon of almost ecstatic contentment found me sitting on the tight red upholstery in the back, primly upright, walnut tray table out, pretending to be a lady at luncheon during a long, always delightful country drive that took place entirely in the driveway of my great grandmother’s Randwick house, Granddad’s garage in Darlinghurst, or out on the street outside his Bondi home. Not going anywhere in no way restricted the action or the excitement. Some days I’d wear one of Grandma’s furs and be on the way to the opera. I’d hand Granddad wrenches and watch him disappear underneath. I’d conduct very important business meetings and wave to the people who’d turned out for the parade… there was no limit to the scale of the Jag’s adventures. It catered for every mood, every menu. I was as fascinated by that car as some children are with dolls, and I’m so glad for the quiz I received tonight, because perhaps without it I wouldn’t have ever stopped to wonder about my favourite childhood toy, and so might never have paused to ask myself, and remember.

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