May 8th, 2012
I don’t feel much inclined towards fun this week, I’m afraid, even though this week I have two days when I’m not teaching, so I should be enjoying myself and making the most of time. But I’m not. I spent a lot of Sunday and Monday applying for jobs (see last post) and then most of Monday evening muttering “I don’t believe it…” when one place offered me an interview (within 6 hours of me sending the application in! Either they like me a lot, or they’re desperate!!!)
Anyhoo, the theme of Finding Fun this week is “Houses”. Over here is Caroline’s post. I feel disinclined to draw pictures, or to build houses-of-cards…but the theme makes me remember a house that was very special to me when I was young. My dolls’ house. It wasn’t elaborate in anyway, and I certainly inherited it, but whether from my older sister (who’s 5 years older than me) or even mum, I don’t know. I think it’s more likely to have been from my sister. I think it was handmade, probably by Granddad Disley, as I can’t imagine Dad ever turning his hand to anything as elaborate as a dolls’ house!
This picture shows a similar house under construction. You could lift up the pale grey roof (the hinges were made of leather straps, I think) and open the front. As far as I can remember, there were no stairs – just four basic rooms but I loved it.There were no doors or windows either, just holes cut in the walls. Really basic – but how I loved it!
I bought lots of furniture and dolls to go in it, and would often get some new furniturein my Christmas sack, from Santa Claus. I remember the dolls that I loved best were a family made of wire, wrapped in wool and dressed
These aren’t exactly as I remember…too modern, methinks, but they give an idea.
I hated tidying my bedroom, but one thing I loved doing was “tidying the Dolls’ House”. I would take everything out and rearrange the furniture. I’d cut pictures from magazines, and make tiny frames to hang on the wall; I’d pick the berries from various (hopefully non-poisonous!) plants in the garden to put out for “dinner”; I’d make furniture from Swan Vesta matchboxes
and cover it with paper. Nana Disley would sometimes knit something to go in. I loved my Dolls’ House.
But the thing that I remember most of all was the Christmas when my sister gave me a wonderful, wonderful present. She made a Christmas in my dolls’ house. She made tiny paper chains to decorate the rooms, she bought/found/created a Christmas tree to go in the living room, and she may even have provided tiny presents for them.
But the thing that particularly stays with me is that she created a Christmas dinner for my dolls!! I don’t know what she provided – I can’t remember – except for one thing. In Sayers the Bakers, you could buy miniature Christmas puddings (I think they were made with a fruit cake base) like these:Judy bought one, and placed it in the middle of the dolls’ table. There were other things too – goblets made of silver foil, and so on. It was an amazing present!
This picture is far too elaborate, and far too “bought” but you can still imagine how my sister might have dressed my dolls’ house to be beautifully Christmassy.I was thrilled (obviously – I can still remember it more than 40 years later!)
I loved that Dolls’ House, and even when I stopped playing with it (probably later than it should have been! I certainly played with it occasionally in my second year at secondary school) it had pride of place in my bedroom. I sometimes used it to hide my diary in; from time to time, I would imagine it was my house where I could live away from my annoying parents all by myself, furnished with trendy furniture I’d picked from the Habitat catalogue. It was a huge part of my childhood and I dreamed that one daymy own little girl would play with it…
Ah! Not to be! I came home from my first year at college, went to my bedroom and found it had disappeared! Where was it!? I demanded
“Oh, I gave it to Shona*,” said Mum “She’s doing a course in design and wanted to show some house design ideas as part of her assessment. You don’t mind, do you? It’s not like you play with it…”
I never saw the glammed up, uber-trendy design model. I hope Shona won many prizes and went on to design for Terence Conran and the like. That might go some way to easing the pain!
So the house in which I found so much fun still brings back many, many memories today. It wasn’t elaborate like this
or plastic and huge like this
but it provided me with hours of creative play that I still remember today – and especially, my Doll’s House Christmas. Thanks, Judy!
*Shona was a friend of my sisters. You see how I was cut-to-the-quick, if I can still remember who it was took my Dolls’ House, 34 years after the event!