Sunday, 23 September 2012


Before Hubby returned to work, we gutted the toy room. It was a dirty job and one that required a stomach of steel. What were those green, fluffy masses growing behind the Lego box? And why were the calcified remains of birthday cake, circa 2007, hidden in the Postman Pat jigsaw puzzle box? These enigmas will remain unanswered because the culprits involved, who were no more than toddlers at the time, have grown up a bit and have no recollection whatsoever as to why penicillin spores are more abundant in their play room than in a bio-technological laboratory, although they were very keen to help ‘sort’. Many, many bin bags were utilised in the big clear out. Limbless and beheaded Barbies and more than a couple of sexually ambiguous Kens, got the heave- ho. “But I love that Barbie”, was opined more than once by one daughter or another. “But she hasn’t got any legs/arms/hair or head”, I replied in vexation. Depending on the Barbie in question, she mightn’t have had any of the above, let alone delete as appropriate. Hubby was ruthless. “It’s going in the bin, ditto any jigsaw without all the pieces and any game without its component parts.” This, as it transpired, turned out to be most of the jigsaws and almost all of the games. With bin liners piling up as big as a thief’s outside a toy shop, the children’s resolve began to waver. “We haven’t got anything left to play with”, one wailed. “You haven’t played with this stuff for years”, replied Hubby, stamping on a doll’s head with rather over-enthusiastic fervour. “Get in that bag”, he added, squishing her in. “You are hurting her”, cried the Red-Head, attacking her father’s leg with remarkable gusto, “Leave her alone you pig”. “It is an inanimate plastic doll!”, retorted Hubby, attempting to prise her off. “So?”, she hissed at him. “The same doll, whose once sleeping eyes have been rather cruelly removed and, whose face is now disfigured by black marker pen where one of you has tried to remedy the doll’s blindness by providing it with felt-tip pen eyes.” The girls had the grace to look a little discomfited. The makers of Toy Story 1, 2 and 3 would have been up in arms as a Woody who couldn’t talk anymore, a Mr Potato Head who no longer had a head and who was now just reduced to a potato and a Buzz Lightyear with smashed visor and dislocated leg were plonked unceremoniously into a cardboard box, a scene that has been played out in the movie several times, but alas no plastic dinosaur, nor springy dog, nor green plastic toy soldiers came to their rescue. Books, hundreds of them, took hours to work through. I could not dispose of cherished books that had been read and re-read, time and again as bedtime stories, memories that are particularly precious to me now that two of my children are virtually grown up and the other two demand to read to themselves. Also all the books that have been inscribed in had to be kept. All books from my mother, from Godparents, and long lost friends. “Alice, we can’t keep all these books in the loft. They’ll bring the ceiling down”. “I can’t get rid of them”, I replied, beseechingly, “They are so precious. Our children’s babyhoods are written into the very fabric of these pages” and I brandished ‘Dogger’ into his face. Hubby sighed, “Good God Alice, never let it be said that you are not dramatic” but, I was careful to note, he put the special books in another pile – the pile of ‘things to be kept’. This pile, whilst being emptied from one room, now clutters another, only it isn’t even a room. It is the landing. Already this week the ‘pile’ has caused much embarrassment as Hubby, who having just about managed to lug it all from downstairs before he had to leave before dawn on Monday, never quite got it as far as the loft. And so, in this current mess it would have to be that Jacob, one of my lost boys, has returned from university to visit, bringing a friend with him. Said friend is South Korean and whilst, exceptionally polite, was at a loss as to why, “Such big house have many toys outside bathroom?”. No linguistic stereotyping intended by the way, he just genuinely used no prepositions. I was at pains to explain to him that they had originated from the room in which he was sleeping. “No, no! You do that for me? No” and he ran upstairs. Minutes later I found him humping a doll’s house down the stairs. “What are you doing Kim?”, I asked bewildered. “You very kind Mrs Band, but you no need empty room on my behalf”. Korean translators are very thin on the ground in Torpoint and so, whilst I wrested the doll’s house from him, I implored Jake to take pains to make Kim understand that whilst he was a very welcome visitor, I had not infact emptied the downstairs room so that he wouldn’t have to share a sofa-bed with a Playmobil Pyramid. “What are you going to do with this room now that’s it empty?” asked Hubby on the phone later that night. “It will be my boudoir”, I replied, “A place where I can entertain my friends in my private sitting room without having to compete with Horrible Histories”. Hubby was not impressed. I impressed on him that it was wonderful idea; he could have the sitting room to himself where he could watch Ice Truckers and listen to his music with impunity. We then had a slight verbal fracas which culminated in my hanging up. Minutes later a text arrived on my mobile, ‘Your boudoir is a perfect place for you to hang out. Just looked up its meaning – from the French: literally, a sulking place’

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