V&A’s toy stories

Image of 1950s pottery cat hung on a wall

I spent the bank holiday weekend at my friend’s house in Southport, getting up in the face of various toys with my camera. My friends, Vince & Aileen (we’ll call them V&A) are the old and tested kind of friends who make holidays easy.  Nothing more extreme than mooching through Southport’s plentiful supply of second-hand book shops followed up by visits to the towns many and various café recovery venues.

V&A’s toys are an odd mix of bought-in charity shop finds. Yet a delicate layer of dust and worn patina makes them seem like authentic childhood relics. They look as if they have always sat on their particular shelves. It used to be that all toys were childhood relics. But collect-ability has made toys an increasingly adult pursuit, to the point where you have adult toys never meant to meet a small, sticky hand. And toy fairs where there isn’t a child in sight.

The rationale behind buying this selection of toys wasn’t value though, at least not the fiscal kind. V&A know what they like. They are arty types. The toys most likely radiated a certain something sat amongst the random selections of tat found in charity shops. They tweaked an aesthetic memory. Amused with a skew-whiff facial expression. Snuck up on a childhood memory. Were seen on TV once.  Or made famous as figures behind an advertising campaign.

Sindy (most of my generation had a Sindy or a Pippa – none of your other-world-glamour Barbie) came from a charity shop in Southport.  As did the Homepride flour man, red plastic donkey and wooden giraffe (at least I think it is a giraffe). The Bill and Ben flower pot man (I am envious of him in particular) came from a care home summer fete bric-a-brac stall.  The pottery cat pictured here (which crawls, surreally, up their bedroom wall) was from an antique fair.

The two wooden figures (one with a red top hat and redder nose, one with a rather startled expression on her face and a big red bow in her hair) were purchased in Paris on a rather glamorous 40th birthday trip. It was A and not V that was 40. I was present on that trip. The paper dog was a present from me. The feet belong to long-time sofa-bound Sindy dolls.

So they just had to be photographed and given a set on Flickr.  And (I think) the camera loves them.



I am very gratified to have my bits on your blog, so to speak. Your lovely photos give the objects a whole new personality – a friendly sort of spookiness where the eyes do that ‘follow you round the room’ thing…


You could have let us get the duster out it looks a bit Quentin Crisp with the layers of dust building up on the Homepride man. The other thing I’m surprised you didn’t mention was your wild nights out in the Foghorn Bar and the G-Spot nightclub i.e., the seedy underbelly of Southport.

Spiffing blog though but


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