Read the transcript of this clip

9th October 2014
Interviewers: Andrea Dumbrell & Emily Hill
Videographer: Dan Cash.

Members of group: Paul, Yolanda, Matthew, Robert, Tomasz, Momodou, Michal, Megan, Amy, Lee, Bal. [Lee and Bal join after introductions, Robert leaves part way through]

Comments: This is recorded in a very noisy environment, with a fairly large group of people. There are some parts of the recording which are very difficult to hear clearly.

00.04 – Michal: I had a teddy bear, yeah. Well, he got dirty once and my mother washed him and he never came back [laughter]. He fall apart, that’s what I remember.

Emily: Were you very upset?

Michal: I don’t know, come on, that was a long time ago. I barely remember what I did last month.

Emily: Can you describe him? Do you remember what he looked like?

Michal: He wasn’t a big one. I think Tomasz may know. He looked like the guy in the cartoon and there was like an old cartoon.

Tomasz: Yeah, I know which one.

Michal: With one ear. A brown one. Like a Russian bear.

Tomasz: Wasn’t it a pink colour?

Michal: No, no, no. Did I upset you about that? Yeah well, everybody had one I guess.

Emily: Do you remember how you received the toy? Was it a present?

Michal: No, not much about it. I was young. 3 years old.

Paul: Did you have a teddy bear yourself?

Emily: I don’t remember a teddy bear that I had actually. I had some Barbies and dolls.

Yolanda Yeah, loads of Barbies and it’s weird though it’s almost like Barbies come back to haunt you, don’t they?

[Teddy bears being passed round]

Michal: It was something like this. It was brown.

Emily: So it’s brown like this or?

Michal: Yeah.

Emily: About the same size?

Michal: A little bit bigger, yeah, probably a little bit bigger

Yolanda: Yeah, mine was like huge, yeah massive. Like two years old, screaming.

Paul: [playing with Sooty puppet.] Hello. How are you today? Is everyone having a good day?

Michal: This one is like high tech thing, can move his arms and legs.

Lee: That’s Sooty

Andrea: It is Sooty, yeah.

Emily: And I think we missed a couple of people over there. Do you have any memories of teddy bears?

Momodou: No, but I was having a toy gun when I was very young. And a bicycle. My dad was working at the port authority in Gambia. He bought me a bike and a patrol gun and I dressed like a cowboy and I was so proud of it.

Yolanda: Really?

Momodou: Yeah, when I was young. But I didn’t have a teddy bear, no.

Matthew: Mine wasn’t actually a teddy bear, I suppose it was a teddy dog I suppose, it was very rigid it was like a small Yorkshire Terrier. The same type. It was blue and white. I remember as a child I used to drag it around on a lead. And I clung to it, it was only when I got a bit older. I’ve still got it in the loft somewhere at my father’s. It was actually my nan that bought it for me. I never remember my nan. She passed away when I was very, very young. But it was something I was very, very attached to. I used to take it everywhere, drag it on a lead. I always wanted a dog but I wasn’t allowed it. So I had that. When I was very, very young. So that went everywhere with me.

03.08 – Paul: What I was saying earlier is that certain toys condition your future and open doors to your future so…

Matthew: I do think nowadays in our society, children don’t have, I know if I say it, I can look at it and say “in my day” but I think children don’t stay children long enough nowadays and toys nowadays, if you gave a child that, they’ll throw it and say “I’d rather have a mobile phone.” And I do think it’s quite sad now that they don’t use their imagination. You know, with toys, you’ve got to use your imagination, with toys and I think it’s a shame that a lot of that’s gone now. Where they sit on the computer on a computer game, or their mobile, on the internet. Where, you know, if you had a load of building blocks, you’ve got to use your imagination to build something with that and I think a lot of that’s getting lost now and that’s a shame.

Paul: Yeah, but that’s life I suppose.

Matthew: That’s it, my grandparents probably said the same about us when we were young, you know. You know “back in our day”.

Matthew: It makes me laugh, like a lot of young children, you buy them all these toys at Christmas and they play with the box! [laughter] That’s always the bit that amazes me, isn’t it? You know, that sometimes the box is a lot more interesting, isn’t it, than the actual toy that was in it.

Andrea: Boxes are great! You can do so many things with them. [laughter]

Matthew: Yeah, and the toilet roll.

Michal: You can sleep on them.

Matthew: You can sleep on the boxes, yeah.

RECORDING ENDS 4m 34s

Watch the full video

Read the transcript of the full video

9th October 2014
Interviewers: Andrea Dumbrell & Emily Hill
Videographer: Dan Cash.

Members of group: Paul, Yolanda, Matthew, Robert, Tomasz, Momodou, Michal, Megan, Amy, Lee, Bal. [Lee and Bal join after introductions, Robert leaves part way through]

Comments: This is recorded in a very noisy environment, with a fairly large group of people. There are some parts of the recording which are very difficult to hear clearly.

00.06 – Andrea: The first thing I would like to do though is go round and ask everyone what your name is, where you were born and the year you were born. You don’t need to give the actual date of birth, but just the year, or if you prefer, just the decade

Paul: My name is Paul. I was born in Cameroon and I was born in 1990.

Yolanda: 90

Paul: Yeah. Not 19. I wish I could stay that young, but you know ..

Yolanda: You’re still a babba bing.

Andrea: What year was that?

Paul: 1990, yeah

Paul: [humming]

Andrea: So what about you?

Yolanda My name’s Yolanda Bath and I was born in 18.2.1968 and I’ve been in this country 28 years and I’m enjoying all the studies I’m doing here at First Base.

Andrea: Ok so where were you born?

Yolanda: South Africa

Andrea: South Africa ok.

Yolanda: Natal.

Tom: My name is Tom. I was born in Poland in 1975.

Matthew: My name’s Matthew. I was born in 1975 in Brunswick.

Momodou: My name is Momodou. I’m from Gambia. I was born in 1956.

Robert: My name is Robert. I was born in Yorkshire in 1968.

Andrea: We’re missing you out are we?

Amy: No. I’m Amy. I was born in 1985 in Northampton.

Michal: Michal. Born in the summer of 1982 in Poland.

Meg. I’m Meg and I was born in London and I was born in ’87.

Yolanda: You were born when I came over here.

Yolanda: What’s your name?

Meg: Meg.

02.36 – Emily: So did you have a teddy bear, a specific teddy bear in your childhood?

Paul: I had a … how do you call … it’s like the wheels of the bike but the frame of the wheel and so it’s like hollow in the middle and you just push it with a stick like everywhere around and it was kind of fun you know. We do that for hours, trust me, I’m very [unclear word] at the end of the day.

Michal: The rollers?

Paul: Of course. Or you have, I don’t know how you call it, the round glass things where you just throw it and try to knock one …

Meg: Marbles?

Paul: How do you call it?

Meg: Marbles

Paul: Marbles yeah.

Yolanda: Marbles! [laughs]

Emily: So did you have a teddy bear that you remember?

Yolanda: Yes, I’ve still got him but I don’t know what his name was but he was a really huge teddy bear about that size and I got him when I was about two and I used to be scared of him because he was bigger than me. And he’s got leather hands and leather feet and lots of character, and proper hair. And I left him when I came to this country so he’s still in South Africa waiting for me.

Paul: Are you going to meet him? I mean to take him back or…

Yolanda: Well, as long as he’s not touched or his one eye’s fell out [laughs].

Paul: Why don’t you ask them to send it?

Yolanda No, because I’ll probably just lose it.

Paul: It’s too dear for you

Yolanda No, yeah, keep him safe.

Matthew: Yeah, I probably had one, but my memory’s vague about it so I can’t comment on that one.

Yolanda: But I can’t remember his name, it’s weird isn’t it?

Emily: Can you remember what colour he was?

Yolanda: A fudgey, toffee colour. I think probably, I can’t remember his name.

Paul: I had a lot of cats though.

Yolanda: Pets?

Paul: Cats, yeah.

Yolanda: I had a little black one and we had a funeral for it. My friends and myself. And we were all standing at the funeral and suddenly we heard this massive meow and we all went running, screaming down the road! [laughing]

Paul: But you remember the name of the cat then?

Yolanda: Um, God . . .

Paul: ‘Cos I can’t remember the name of none of them. We had about . . .

Yolanda: Twinkles!

Paul: Twinkle?

Yolanda: Yeah.

Paul: Right. But to remember 15 names. I mean 15 cats’ names. Believe me, not even 10 years. It’s too much.

Yolanda: No, no, it’s difficult. But I remember most of my cats. Twinkles, yeah. But he’s been run over, so . . .

Paul: Wow. Shit happens.

Michal: Tell me about it.

Yolanda: But we were having a funeral for it which was quite funny because we all ended up running all over the place.

[Laughter]

Robert: What are they talking about cats for?

Matthew: I thought we were talking about teddy bears.

Paul: Anyway, what was your teddy bear called?

Robert: I haven’t had a teddy bear. I was a tech kid. Construction toys me.

Paul: So you used to construct your own toys?

05.55 – Robert: Meccano. That’s what I had as a kid.

05.58 – Michal: I had a teddy bear, yeah. Well, he got dirty once and my mother washed him and he never came back [laughter]. He fall apart, that’s what I remember.

Emily: Were you very upset?

Michal: I don’t know, come on, that was a long time ago. I barely remember what I did last month.

Emily: Can you describe him? Do you remember what he looked like?

Michal: He wasn’t a big one. I think Tomasz may know. He looked like the guy in the cartoon and there was like an old cartoon.

Tomasz: Yeah, I know which one.

Michal: With one ear. A brown one. Like a Russian bear.

Tomasz: Wasn’t it a pink colour?

Michal: No, no, no. Did I upset you about that? Yeah well, everybody had one I guess.

Emily: Do you remember how you received the toy? Was it a present?

Michal: No, not much about it. I was young. 3 years old.

Paul: Did you have a teddy bear yourself?

Emily: I don’t remember a teddy bear that I had actually. I had some Barbies and dolls.

Yolanda Yeah, loads of Barbies and it’s weird though it’s almost like Barbies come back to haunt you, don’t they?

[Teddy bears being passed round]

Michal: It was something like this. It was brown.

Emily: So it’s brown like this or?

Michal: Yeah.

Emily: About the same size?

Michal: A little bit bigger, yeah, probably a little bit bigger

Yolanda: Yeah, mine was like huge, yeah massive. Like two years old, screaming.

Paul: [playing with Sooty puppet.] Hello. How are you today? Is everyone having a good day?

Michal: This one is like high tech thing, can move his arms and legs.

Lee: That’s Sooty

Andrea: It is Sooty, yeah.

Emily: And I think we missed a couple of people over there. Do you have any memories of teddy bears?

Momodou: No, but I was having a toy gun when I was very young. And a bicycle. My dad was working at the port authority in Gambia. He bought me a bike and a patrol gun and I dressed like a cowboy and I was so proud of it.

Yolanda: Really?

Momodou: Yeah, when I was young. But I didn’t have a teddy bear, no.

Matthew: Mine wasn’t actually a teddy bear, I suppose it was a teddy dog I suppose, it was very rigid it was like a small Yorkshire Terrier. The same type. It was blue and white. I remember as a child I used to drag it around on a lead. And I clung to it, it was only when I got a bit older. I’ve still got it in the loft somewhere at my father’s. It was actually my nan that bought it for me. I never remember my nan. She passed away when I was very, very young. But it was something I was very, very attached to. I used to take it everywhere, drag it on a lead. I always wanted a dog but I wasn’t allowed it. So I had that. When I was very, very young. So that went everywhere with me. Then I got into my cars. But it’s still up in the loft somewhere.

Emily: So it was really important to you?

Matthew: Very important. ‘Cos I have no recollection of my nan and it was something she bought me as well.

Emily: Yeah, and what colour was it? Did you say?

Matthew: I said it looked like a little Yorkshire terrier and the body was rigid, like a plastic frame. And it was blue and white. Well. probably more like grey and white now. It had quite coarse hair. So yeah, it got dragged everywhere with me.

09.48 – Emily: So if we could talk about dolls now. I don’t know if you had any dolls?

Yolanda: I had some Barbie dolls and I often think my Barbie dolls have come back to haunt me! [laughing] and I also had a really nice doll when I gave birth to one of my daughters and I don’t know what’s happened to her. I think she’s been packed away. Kind of porcelain doll.

Paul: Very fragile to offer to a child

Yolanda: No, no, it was mine.

Paul: And how long did you keep it?

Yolanda: I’ve still got them all. Paul: Even the porcelain one?

10.26 – Yolanda The one porcelain one I’ve got. The others have broken. But the one I had when I gave birth to my daughter was like . . . You know one of these with the starey eyes and like, porcelain ones, they’re really like . . . [Laughter].

Paul: One thing I like really, I don’t like dolls, but I like the Chinese dolls. They have a certain . . .

Yolanda I think my dolls come back to haunt me. I really do.

Paul: No. Oh shit. I hope they don’t disturb you too much.

Yolanda I don’t know but I think … [laughter]

Tomasz: [speaks Polish]

Michal: Quite a few yeah
[Laughter]

Michal: That was all then, in that in that time.

Emily: Dolls can include action men and things as well I guess so …

Andrea: Here’s some dolls so

Paul: Et viola!
[dolls and action men being passed round]

[Some unclear and overlapping talking from here 13.40 – transcribed where possible as separate conversations. Some unintelligible]

Michal: In that time, we were doing the Matchbox thing, yeah.

Yolanda: These are the ones that that come back to haunt me.

Momondou: My sisters used to have these.

Matthew: Ah, this one’s cool.

Michal: He’s like French I guess. French. Gendarme.

Paul: [Sings ‘Barbie Girl’] These are the ones that come back to haunt you?

Emily: And do you remember the kinds of games you played with Barbies?

Yolanda Changing their clothes, brushing their hair, putting their pyjamas on, bathing them, powdering their faces.

Michal: This one is Russian. It surely is.

Meg: Why do you know it’s Russian?

Michal: Because he’s Russian. He’s smart though.

Meg: Is it because of his suit?

Michal: Yeah. And he’s skinny, so he must be Russian. They don’t eat well.

Meg: So you didn’t have one like this then?

Michal: No. I didn’t like him.

Meg: I didn’t play with dolls.

Michal: What did you play with?

Meg: I played more with digging and construction toys

Michal: Really?

Meg: I was more into climbing trees.

Michal: There was one girl in my company, she would play football with us. I was hitting on her in the 80s but then she told us she’s not interested in boys anyway. Strange.

Paul: Do you not think on a subconscious level, it’s preparation for . . .

Andrea: Yeah

Paul: . . . adult life

Andrea: What, dolls?

Paul: That’s just my point of view, that’s all.

Andrea: Yeah maybe. I think it depends.

Emily: Do you think that applies to boys as well?

Paul: I agree, I agree. But my point of view on that is that a child of course, playing with toys that are very like house toys, all that. The childhood growing up in Cameroon, which is more – you learnt to cook for real when you were about six years old or whatever. For everything else, you know. We found a big wheel that had come off a car or something. And we’d just jump on it all day. You know.

Andrea: I think there’s a lot of play that has nothing to do with toys.

Paul: Something like that, that’s it.

Andrea: Climbing trees, things like that, that I did a lot of when I was little.

Paul: For me it’s sort of like, how do I say that? Conditioning them.

Emily: And you had those when you were a child?

Yolanda: The Barbies, yeah.

Yolanda [looking at Tiny Tears]: My cousin used to have these. Feed them a bottle.

Lee: You can get them that wet themselves

Yolanda: Yeah. Put their nappies on. I find these kind of menacing.

Meg [looking at Action Man]: Yeah, they’re a bit scary. This one’s a bit scarey as well. I’ve never seen dolls that you can actually move their hands. Did you play with dolls?

Amy: No. I wasn’t allowed dolls. I wasn’t allowed Barbies. It was a bad representation of females.

13.36 – Matthew: One doll I remember really vividly was my eldest sister, she was born in ’67 and my nan again, bless her, but when she bought my sister a little doll about that size and in that colour and a little one that was an Afro baby, which in ’67 was very, very rare. My sister’s still got that doll and it was for my nan to say that we have to accept anybody for who they are, which I thought was lovely. But in ’67, to find a baby like that, a baby doll of that colour I think was quite rare. And I was quite proud that my nan did that she bought one of each colour. So when my sister was bought it and my sister was so proud, as I say, she’s still got that doll. She’s very proud of it. And it was just to tell us that it doesn’t matter what colour you are, it was drilled into us from when we were very young that there’s no prejudice. And I thought that was very good, a way of doing it.

Me, it was Action Men. Which is why I’ve got the jeep and the boat and helicopter and the tank and I wish I’d got all that now because, you know, it was the old Action Men stuff so it wasn’t all this plastic nowadays, it was metal and the tower and the parachute and the submarine and you know … And I loved it all and I kept them for a very, very long time and then I moved out of home and I suppose my parents had got to the stage, no you’ve taken up the loft, I’m a bit of a hoarder you know and some of this stuff has to go. So I actually did sell all my Action Men stuff. I sold it to a collector actually so I was quite pleased about that.
My two sisters, I know they’ve kept all their dolls. They’ve got you know, a lot of dolls. My second sister was a bit of a tomboy and she fell out with my other sister, she used to rip all the heads off. [laughter] But as a child, it’s a thing that you do, isn’t it? But no, Action Men were a big thing ‘cause we’d got a big, extensive garden as well so climbing the trees and fighting and all that. Yeah, I spent a lot of time

Emily: And you mention your siblings, did you play together with your things or was it kind of?

Matthew: No I think there’s quite an age gap. I’ve got two elder sisters. There’s quite an age gap so when I was born, my sisters were like nine and ten so I suppose, because of that age gap, they were growing out of that stuff as I was growing into it so it wasn’t a thing that we … My older sister was very good and bought all the dolls and my other sister was a tomboy with her guns and her arrows and so they clashed a bit that way but I was very … but that doll that my nan bought my sister always stuck out cause I thought it was such a good way to introduce it at such a young age. That was good.

Emily: Sounds like toys were quite important if they’d kept them as well?

16.16 – Matthew: Yes. I think again, it just brings back nice childhood memories, doesn’t it? It doesn’t hurt to think about those sometimes. It’s healthy.

Emily: Were you sad to let the old toys go when you?

Matthew: When I look at it now, probably not ‘cos I’d got such a large collection of it. But it went to a collector who’s probably going to have more fun with it being locked up in an attic. I collect toy cars, I used to collect toy cars as well and like they’re all sat in an attic which … it’s nice collecting them but it’s not if they’re locked away, is it? You know, so you’ve got to … my mother always kept her first toy prams, the little metal ones, you know. But again, if they’re just locked up in an attic, is it worth keeping them, I don’t know – if they’re not being enjoyed and seen, you know?

17.12 – Andrea: So what about anyone else, does anyone else have any memories of the Action Man type dolls or? I know some people were saying over here – you were saying something about – did you have similar dolls when you were growing up?

Michal: Action figures. No, I don’t think so. Yeah, I would play soldiers but that was a different story.

Momodou: Star Wars figures

Michal: They wanted to play with me because I was good at hiding, you know, like a crave you know, I could dig myself up, you know? With only eyes open, and . . .

Tomasz: When Action Men came out, on the market, I think that was the early 80’s yeah? We was already making the bows and the arrows and chasing each other in the forest, do you know what I mean? Preparing for our service in the army. Not playing with toys then.

Andrea: You didn’t play with toys, you were just doing it . . .

Tomasz: We were the toys

Andrea: We were just saying a similar thing down here actually.

Tomasz: I was chasing my dad, can you make me a bow, do you know what I mean? I make my own arrows.

Michal: Did you make Russian gun for yourself? I did it. From the wood, pieces of things you put together?

Tomasz: With a little knife, i’n it? Penknife?

Michal: That was it

Tomasz: That was it.

Paul: I was 7 years old and I am the last of two brother and one sister. The second last when I was 7 was 24. We had a 14 year gap difference between me and him. So, by 7 years old, I was just playing with my cousin and one were 9 and the other one 10 and by then we already go for the weekend camp in the forest for like 3,4 days, just living, hunting, whatever, you know, the food. This is how we spend our weekend and it’s way more entertaining I think than to play with a toy on the table.

Andrea: And I think a lot of play or a lot of experiences when you’re children are actually nothing to do with toys as objects. They’re to do with what you’re doing and who you’re hanging out with.

Paul: The Western and Africa, Asia and probably places like Antarctica you know places where childhood is not suppressed but in a way, I don’t know how to say it, forced to, forced to adult life, not, what was the word I said … con, I can’t remember, but anyways

19.50 – Andrea: It’s not separated out in the same way, maybe.

Paul: Mmhm

Emily: Did you have a story?

Bal: Only a slight one. I had Action Man when I was younger and it’s my favourite, then my mum bought me a Hulk. And the Hulk was like much bigger, much stronger and it was Hulk smash so Action Man had to be the enemy, you know

Matthew: Saying that, I had one of those Hulks so I suppose it was like a doll in a way, in a cage with a pump action in the back, you’d come and pick him up and he would expand and smash the cage open. And again, I’ve still got that! [laughing] But yes, saying that, I remember that as well.

20.36 – Emily: Shall we move on to construction toys? Is any people have any stories of ..

Michal: Like models?

Emily: Construction toys so maybe Lego or Meccano .

Andrea: Things you make.

Michal: I had this set but it wasn’t Lego actually, it was something else, like cheaper ones. Like the wheels actually, it didn’t spin. But it was pretty good, it could create things. And then I ate a few and my father took them from me. Really small pieces

21:10 – Paul: I think we all played Jenga. That’s a very old game. We used to play it from time to time. Once a sort of like .. we live in a village of about a thousand inhabitants and the closest city was about 25 kilometres away so you had to take the bus take the bus or whatever. [background noise] yeah once they had it in the town village the town club, every family had it within the year, always more communication. You know, you live in a town with a thousand inhabitants, everyone knows each other, it’s more community life. Who played Jenga? Anyone?

Amy: Everyone’s played Jenga I think

Lee: Most of mine I think was football and camping.

Andrea: We’ve brought a few construction toys along.

[passing construction toys round]

Michal [tipping out Lego]: Okay, you carry on!

Emily: So do these bring back any memories for anyone?

Michal: I put these together, yeah? And all the pieces fit.

22.50 – Matthew: It was always an old Quality Street tin, big old tin, always full of the Lego. It was always in that. So Lego, stuff like Meccano didn’t interest me at all.

Amy: I think Meccano was a bit posh.

Michal: Do you know what ‘Lego’ means? ‘Do well’. In Dutch.

Meg: Duo?

Michal: Do Well

Meg: Do well

Michal: Two words.

Matthew: Even nowadays I still have no interest at all. But yeah, so Lego, it was a good old favourite. It was always the one thing you could never put back and it was always something like that. The one you always trod on when you’d got nothing on your feet. You always found it then. I remember building castles and houses and. So Lego, yeah. But stuff like Meccano was just a no go. It would have been a waste. It would have gone to my sister. She’d have loved it, not me. Yes, so Lego I remember. It was good stuff.

[Overlapping inaudible talking]

Emily: Anyone else?
[Background noise obscuring talking. Overlapping talking.]

Michal [looking at Meccano crane]: These I had at school. And that was part of my problem. I think. We had to, how you say, we had to build things from bits.

Meg: Using these?

Michal: Yeah

Meg: It’s quite difficult isn’t it? Quite difficult to make. I was more into Lego.

24.50 – Emily: Were anyone’s toys passed down through the family? Do you remember any older brothers or sisters giving you toys?

Matthew: Mousetrap. That was passed down. Again we’ve still got … a lot of board games were passed down you keep those in the family don’t you? You know, get them out at Christmas time. Twister and Mousetrap Connect Four and was it Kerplunk with all the little pins wasn’t it?

Meg: Straws

Matthew: Yeah, so those.

25:29 – Michal: I think there are trains still maybe still in my family. My grandfather bought them, some are from Russia I guess. And it was only actually railways and the trains on them so we built like board, big one so we put it together only in the Christmas time when all family came. And we built on the wooden board everything like mountains, trees, and the trains … it was fun – they’re probably still there.

Paul: Meg – I haven’t heard no story of yours.

Meg: I used to play with Scalextric. They’re like racing cars and you have little buttons and you power them up and then they go round and they’re electronic. I used to play more with my brother’s toys than he used to play with them because I was very tomboy too. So I used to construct all of his stuff and set up little tracks.

Paul: And he used to play with your Barbies and?

26.40 – Meg: No, no [laughter]. I just used to wreck all of his stuff basically.

Paul: Right. How old was your old brother?

Meg: He’s older, yeah.

Paul: He was not getting pissed off all the time?

Meg: Um I think he quite liked the challenge so we used to just make little tracks and …

Paul: Very nice. You had a very good bond with your brother?

Meg: I did, yes, yeah. But yeah, we did have a lot of like racing cars and things like that. But we also really loved Lego so

Paul: How old were you in your oldest memory starting to play with him? 6?

Meg: No, about three.

Paul: Fantastic. And how old was he?

Meg: He’s two years older

Paul: 2 years older, so 5 yeah.

Meg: So yeah, we used to make a lot of things out of Lego. So yeah, but it was the Scalextric that was the big thing

Matthew: Yeah, it was the Skalextric me and my sister would get out and race each other.

Emily: It’s an electric track isn’t it? Can you describe it?

Meg: It’s a big racing track. And it’s electric and you have little tools that you power the cars up. So, it’s to do with like you can pump the cars and …

Paul: You know the Hot Wheels? Hot Wheels! Or whatever.

Meg: It’s like that, yeah. And you can construct the circuit to go anywhere and then you race your cars on a track.

Paul: It can go all around the room can’t it?

Meg: Yeah, yeah.

Matthew: Yeah, we’d got the racing cars and we got Mini Coopers as well and that was a present that my parents had bought my sisters but I used to play. I’ll have a go on that so that was another one.

28.20 – Emily: And were there any toys that you remember seeing advertised that you really wanted or a friend wanted and you maybe couldn’t have?

Matthew: Oh no, I got the one I wanted! [laughter]. It was a big track and it had a sort of corner bit. And it was like a computerised plastic tank thing and I always remember the advert, you had a tray and you could programme it to go say 5 paces forward, turn right, 3 paces that way. And the advert was a little boy, you put an apple on the tray on the back and he’d go down the hallway, into the lane and he’d driven it up to his dad. And that was always the advert and I never, ever mastered getting this thing to go where I wanted it to.
And again, it’s something I’ve kept. I’ve got it in its original box and I was probably about 8 or 9 when I had that. When I say yeah, I sound a bit spoilt saying “yes, I got it” but I used to have to really work hard through the year to make sure you know I earned it. I had to do my chores but yeah, it was just something that really sticks. It was on TV that much, I think every little boy wanted this big tractor. But I never delivered the apple to my dad, he never got the apple. But it was a challenge trying to get it there. But that was one present, one thing I saw and thought “I really, really, really wanted that”. So the advertisement must have been a good one, mustn’t it?

Tomasz: Can I ask about the toys you’ve got? What about Matchbox mini cars?

Emily: Did you used to have some?

Tomasz: Oh yeah, plenty of them. I think I was 6 and my friend at kindergarten, he had a nice Mercedes with open doors and I was telling Michal and basically I had two. I had a fire brigade truck and a police car. And bugger, he wouldn’t exchange. I was offering two of them for what one of them cost because the doors was opening, do you know what I mean? But he wouldn’t accept.

Emily: And how small were they? Can you describe them? Were they ..?

Tomasz: Oh, they were tiny. Mini ones. And bigger, more expensive.

Matthew: I think you’re right because some of them were really the Matchbox size, weren’t they? ‘Cos that was one I collected ‘cos my father gave me his dinky toys. Now he’s gone, they’re immaculate in their boxes. But as I say, some of them were really, really small, weren’t they? Yeah, they did get larger and larger, didn’t they?

Tomasz: More expensive though.

Matthew: Yeah. But I used to sit, I used to have like had a play, it was like a spare lounge, it was like a play room and I would sit in the middle and start to circle and circle and circle them. And I used to do that once a week, because I wanted to fill the room with my cars. So if I got a new one, I’d have to put them all out again to see how many cars could fill that room. But no the little ones were … it was nice because you could get every make of car.

Yolanda: Really?

Matthew: The Citroen Dyane was my favourite. Very collectable. But like I say, the more expensive ones with doors that opened.

Tomasz: Yeah

Matthew: Yeah, but they were a lot more expensive.

Michal: And then radio controlled one after that. I never had one. I always wanted to have radio control and my friend had but lately I had all of them. [laughter]. You can buy cheap in Argos now. [Laughter] I was on the fun in London you know, on the Cowes, racing boats. Crazy, maybe but I’m not insane. It’s a lot of fun.

Matthew: It’s like I was saying earlier. There’s always a bit of child still in us and that never goes. Anyone who says that goes is a liar. We always have a bit of a kid inside of us somewhere.

32.21 – Tomasz: You remember you put together these plastic models, planes, whatever. I had a Sputnik. I had a Sputnik. I put it together, it was all available things in the time when I was in Poland.

Matthew: I had the model airplane kits, making model aeroplanes and that. And that was quite nice.

Emily: Did you paint them as well?

Matthew: Yes, I was that sad. Put the little stickers on. I had all the old fashioned fighter planes and again, I’ve still got them all because that’s where my father keeps them. Actually he needs to sort his loft out. They’re still up there, but um. I always remember my older sister having a sewing machine as well which it actually worked. She’s still got that as well. She used to play with that quite a bit, the little sewing machine.

Michal: Do you want to ask any more questions?

Emily: I think that’s pretty much everything, unless anyone has anything else that they want to talk about?

Yolanda: Which toy museum is this? Because the one I go to is the one down under the bridge.

Emily: The station, under the arch of the station.

Yolanda: You didn’t turn up with any trains and stuff. ‘Cos you’ve got like a big train section?

Emily: Yeah, a big train set, yeah.

Yolanda: Yeah, old trains and then cars and things, you didn’t bring those?

Emily: No, I’m afraid we didn’t bring anything from the collection but you should definitely come in

Yolanda: ‘Cos it’s really good isn’t it?

Emily: Yeah, it’s great. Come and see. It’s a lovely place.

Matthew: Where is that actually again?

Emily: It’s just – there’s a bridge under the station,

Matthew: I live by the train station, so . . .

Emily: Oh really? There’s like a drive down from the train station. It’s in one of the old train arches, It’s a really interesting space.

33.15 – Lee: Funnily enough I was in there a month or two ago. A friend of mine in Hove has got a massive, massive collection of 1980’s Beanos, Dandys and like everything from Batman, Spiderman, Fantastic Four, the whole lot. And I did some research on it, on the valuation of it and what I understand, the lower the issue number, the more valuable they are.

Emily: Oh really?

Lee: And some of the issues he’s got are zero, one to ten, you know what I mean?

Emily: So they’re really the oldest ones.

Lee: They’re probably worth a few bob. I’ve been in there, you know, to see if they want to take them off our hands. Do you have some kind of an expert, who can . . .

Emily: We don’t, but I’m sure there must be someone around, ‘cos we don’t.

Lee: There’s another comic exchange place a little further down the road.

Emily: Yeah, that would probably be better, ‘cos we don’t do magazines and comics and stuff like that.

35.25 – Lee: There was one type that I had when I was a kid, ‘cause I was always into practical things and for us it was either like things like bikes or it would be football, do you know what I mean? Football kits and footballs and stuff like that, or it would be something related to art.

Emily: Oh really?

Lee: And basically, I had this thing called the reflector screen and it’s basically a sheet of semi-transparent plastic on a stand and what you do is you put a piece of paper on one side and an image on the other side, depending on whether you’re left or right handed. And what would happen is, the image would reflect onto the glass and if you look at it from the right angle, it looks as though that image is already on your blank piece of paper. And because the piece of glass is semi-transparent, you can then draw it. And if it wasn’t for that particular Christmas present, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now, sitting on the high street painting pictures.

Emily: So it’s influenced your life, that toy?

Lee: Well, it kind of taught me. The first thing I ever drew was Knight Rider car from a Knight Rider annual, the front cover of the Knight Rider annual. And I did it a couple of times and running up and down the stairs, showing me dad and mum and that. Me dad wasn’t the most encouraging but at the same time he did turn round to me and say to me at one point “can you go it free hand now?” So I thought I’d give it a go, i’n it? So I gave it a go and lo and behold, because I’d already done it a couple of times, and was using this reflector screen, it became second nature to me. The lines were already do you know what I mean? I knew exactly where to put everything. Do you know what I mean? And so at 5 years of age I’d be drawing pictures of three dimensional cars and thing like that.

Paul: I’m still trying to do that, you know.

Lee: And it made me realise from a very early age that art is actually something that can be learnt, that you can teach yourself. Do you know what I mean?

Paul: Yeah, and the younger the better. Because you say you can draw three dimensional car and I’m still trying.

Lee: And I’ve never turned back since. It was actually what I was going to do when I grew up. They told me I was going to grow up to be an artist.

38.06 – Matthew: It’s the same with musical toys, isn’t it? I think, you know as children, we all had a recorder. My older sister played clarinet and my other sister violin and I play a range of instruments and I think that’s because we had that opportunity as a child. We weren’t bought the recorder to have lessons, we were just there had a toy then, wasn’t it? But then, you know, us three, we got into our music, probably from having those recorders. I think every parent is always frightened a relative’s going to buy your child a set of drums or a cymbal but as I say, like with that art thing influencing you, perhaps the recorder with me and my sisters influenced us to actually follow through and get into music. Yeah, sometimes I think, perhaps a lad who had Meccano, perhaps I’d design buildings now, I don’t know. It could help you, couldn’t it? It could influence you to what you do in the future.

39.04 – Paul: What I was saying earlier is that certain toys condition your future and open doors to your future so…

Matthew: I do think nowadays in our society, children don’t have, I know if I say it, I can look at it and say “in my day” but I think children don’t stay children long enough nowadays and toys nowadays, if you gave a child that, they’ll throw it and say “I’d rather have a mobile phone.” And I do think it’s quite sad now that they don’t use their imagination. You know, with toys, you’ve got to use your imagination, with toys and I think it’s a shame that a lot of that’s gone now. Where they sit on the computer on a computer game, or their mobile, on the internet. Where, you know, if you had a load of building blocks, you’ve got to use your imagination to build something with that and I think a lot of that’s getting lost now and that’s a shame.

Paul: Yeah, but that’s life I suppose.

Matthew: That’s it, my grandparents probably said the same about us when we were young, you know. You know “back in our day”. But I just think it’s a shame that I don’t think toys .. Children aren’t bought toys. They are when they’re really young, yes. But 9, 10, I still wanted toys but nowadays they don’t do they, so much? I think that is the way of the world, isn’t it? How things change. I know and it’s nice, it brings back memories that you forget. I was sat with a gentleman the other day talking about old children’s programmes you know. And we sat there for about an hour just laughing but you know and remembering programmes and you know like the Wombles and the Bagpuss and it is nice to revert back to that because it’s your innocent days, isn’t it when you see the world as lovely. It is nice.

40:50 – Paul: What do you think is the difference between the nowadays toys and the fact then, the days when you were young, how you used to play, the difference between now and then.

Andrea: I think it all depends on how children play with them.

Paul: In your own childhood

Andrea: Me?

Paul: And how you see them now how kids play, or your grandchildren.

Andrea: In my experience it’s not that much different actually.

Paul: Yeah? Okay.

Andrea No, I think it’s how you play with them. I think when you look at construction toys, there’s the people who when given a box of Lego, want to make the kit that it tells you to build and then there’s people who go “no actually, I’m going to take these bricks and make something different out of them. You’re telling me to build a castle. I’m not going to build a castle.

Matthew: I think sometimes when look at my great niece now, she’s four and you know, she’s got in the garden, a Wendy house and dolls and all that and she’s on her own doing her role play and that and I think sometimes if you sit back and watch that, that can show you how that child is, if they’ve got any issues. She does lovely role plays, she’s cooking for her dolls and all that. And I suppose that is another way to identify that if there is a child having a rough time, then sit back and watch and you can see that. Without any hassle, that can give you an insight straight away into how they’re behaving so I think toys are helpful in so many different ways aren’t they, you know and … you see I love to watch her, not just because she’s my great niece because she’s doing the motherly things you know, it’s sweet that way, you know. But I suppose it can show up other things, can’t it as well?

Andrea: Yeah I think your toys or the way you play with toys probably reflect who you are as a person.

Matthew: Yes

Andrea: And whether … because someone was saying about you know the toys that we play with and how that leads in to maybe what we do in later life, and whether that’s just actually again the toys that you’re interested in playing with showed who you were as a person and that then affected the future life, rather than it being the toys conditioned you to then being . . .

Paul: It’s the toys that one chooses, again.

Andrea: Exactly, yes, I would agree with you. It’s the games, what you do with it. So you know, you could give ten different people an action man, a Barbie or a pile of bricks and they’d all do something different with it, depending on who they are.

43.23 – Matthew: It makes me laugh, like a lot of young children, you buy them all these toys at Christmas and they play with the box! [laughter] That’s always the bit that amazes me, isn’t it? You know, that sometimes the box is a lot more interesting, isn’t it, than the actual toy that was in it.

Andrea: Boxes are great! You can do so many things with them. [laughter]

Matthew: Yeah, and the toilet roll.

Michal: You can sleep on them.

Matthew: You can sleep on the boxes, yeah.

Andrea: So has anyone got anything else they’d like to share or are people getting to the stage of thinking ‘I’ve said enough, I’ve had enough, I’d like to wander off now’?

Paul: I need a cigarette

Andrea: Or I need a cigarette or whatever.

Yolanda: I need a cigarette too.

RECORDING ENDS 43m 11s

Listen to the audio

Read the transcript of the audio track

Location: First Base Day Centre, Brighton
9th October 2014
Interviewers: Andrea Dumbrell & Emily Hill
Videographer: Dan Cash.

Members of group: Paul, Yolanda, Matthew, Robert, Tomasz, Momodou, Michal, Megan, Amy, Lee, Bal. [Lee and Bal join after introductions, Robert leaves part way through]

Comments: This is recorded in a very noisy environment, with a fairly large group of people. There are some parts of the recording which are very difficult to hear clearly.

00.00 – Andrea: The first thing I would like to do though is go round and ask everyone what your name is, where you were born and the year you were born. You don’t need to give the actual date of birth, but just the year, or if you prefer, just the decade

Paul: My name is Paul. I was born in Cameroon and I was born in 1990.

Yolanda: 90

Paul: Yeah. Not 19. I wish I could stay that young, but you know ..

Yolanda: You’re still a babba bing.

Andrea: What year was that?

Paul: 1990, yeah

Paul: [humming]

Andrea: So what about you?

Yolanda: My name’s Yolanda Bath and I was born in 18.2.1968 and I’ve been in this country 28 years and I’m enjoying all the studies I’m doing here at First Base.

Andrea: Ok so where were you born?

Yolanda: South Africa

Andrea: South Africa ok.

Yolanda: Natal.

Tom: My name is Tom. I was born in Poland in 1975.

Matthew: My name’s Matthew. I was born in 1975 in Brunswick.

Momodou: My name is Momodou. I’m from Gambia. I was born in 1956.

Robert: My name is Robert. I was born in Yorkshire in 1968.

Andrea: We’re missing you out are we?

Amy: No. I’m Amy. I was born in 1985 in Northampton.

Michal: Michal. Born in the summer of 1982 in Poland.

Meg. I’m Meg and I was born in London and I was born in ’87.

Yolanda: You were born when I came over here.

Andrea: What’s your name?

Meg: Meg.

02.28 – Emily: So did you have a teddy bear, a specific teddy bear in your childhood?

Paul: I had a … how do you call … it’s like the wheels of the bike but the frame of the wheel and so it’s like hollow in the middle and you just push it with a stick like everywhere around and it was kind of fun you know. We do that for hours, trust me, I’m very [unclear word] at the end of the day.

Michal: The rollers?

Paul: Of course. Or you have, I don’t know how you call it, the round glass things where you just throw it and try to knock one …

Meg: Marbles?

Paul: How do you call it?

Meg: Marbles

Paul: Marbles yeah.

Yolanda: Marbles! [laughs]

Emily: So did you have a teddy bear that you remember?

Yolanda: Yes, I’ve still got him but I don’t know what his name was but he was a really huge teddy bear about that size and I got him when I was about two and I used to be scared of him because he was bigger than me. And he’s got leather hands and leather feet and lots of character, and proper hair. And I left him when I came to this country so he’s still in South Africa waiting for me.

Paul: Are you going to meet him? I mean to take him back or…

Yolanda: Well, as long as he’s not touched or his one eye’s fell out [laughs].

Paul: Why don’t you ask them to send it?

Yolanda No, because I’ll probably just lose it.

Paul: It’s too dear for you

Yolanda No, yeah, keep him safe.

Matthew: Yeah, I probably had one, but my memory’s vague about it so I can’t comment on that one.

Yolanda: But I can’t remember his name, it’s weird isn’t it?

Emily: Can you remember what colour he was?

Yolanda: A fudgey, toffee colour. I think probably, I can’t remember his name. Paul: I had a lot of cats though.

Yolanda: Pets?

Paul: Cats, yeah.

Yolanda: I had a little black one and we had a funeral for it. My friends and myself. And we were all standing at the funeral and suddenly we heard this massive meow and we all went running, screaming down the road! [laughing]

Paul: But you remember the name of the cat then?

Yolanda: Um, God . . .

Paul: ‘Cos I can’t remember the name of none of them. We had about . . . Yolanda: Twinkles!

Paul: Twinkle?

Yolanda: Yeah.

Paul: Right. But to remember 15 names. I mean 15 cats’ names. Believe me, not even 10 years. It’s too much.

Yolanda: No, no, it’s difficult. But I remember most of my cats. Twinkles, yeah. But he’s been run over, so . . .

Paul: Wow. Shit happens.

Michal: Tell me about it.

Yolanda: But we were having a funeral for it which was quite funny because we all ended up running all over the place.

[Laughter]

Robert: What are they talking about cats for?

Matthew: I thought we were talking about teddy bears.

Paul: Anyway, what was your teddy bear called?

Robert: I haven’t had a teddy bear. I was a tech kid. Construction toys me.

Paul: So you used to construct your own toys?

05:51 – Robert: Meccano. That’s what I had as a kid.

Michal: I had a teddy bear, yeah. Well, he got dirty once and my mother washed him and he never came back [laughter]. He fall apart, that’s what I remember.

Emily: Were you very upset?

Michal: I don’t know, come on, that was a long time ago. I barely remember what I did last Monday.

Emily: Can you describe him? Do you remember what he looked like?

Michal: He wasn’t a big one. I think Tomasz may know. He looked like the guy in the cartoon and there was like an old cartoon.

Tomasz: Yeah, I know which one.

Michal: With one ear. A brown one. Like a Russian bear.

Tomasz: Wasn’t it a pink colour?

Michal: No, no, no. Did I upset you about that? Yeah well, everybody had one I guess.

Emily: Do you remember how you received the toy? Was it a present?

Michal: No, not much about it. I was young. 3 years old.

Paul: Did you have a teddy bear yourself?

Emily: I don’t remember a teddy bear that I had actually. I had some Barbies and dolls.

Yolanda Yeah, loads of Barbies and it’s weird though it’s almost like Barbies come back to haunt you, don’t they?

[Teddy bears being passed round]

Michal: It was something like this. It was brown.

Emily: So it’s brown like this or?

Michal: Yeah.

Emily: About the same size?

Michal: A little bit bigger, yeah, probably a little bit bigger

Yolanda: Yeah, mine was like huge, yeah massive. Like two years old, screaming.

Paul: [playing with Sooty puppet.] Hello. How are you today? Is everyone having a good day?

Michal: This one is like high tech thing, can move his arms and legs.

Lee: That’s Sooty

Andrea: It is Sooty, yeah.

Emily: And I think we missed a couple of people over there. Do you have any memories of teddy bears?

Momodou: No, but I was having a toy gun when I was very young. And a bicycle. My dad was working at the port authority in Gambia. He bought me a bike and a patrol gun and I dressed like a cowboy and I was so proud of it.

Yolanda: Really?

Momodou: Yeah, when I was young. But I didn’t have a teddy bear, no.

Matthew: Mine wasn’t actually a teddy bear, I suppose it was a teddy dog I suppose, it was very rigid it was like a small Yorkshire Terrier. The same type. It was blue and white. I remember as a child I used to drag it around on a lead. And I clung to it, it was only when I got a bit older. I’ve still got it in the loft somewhere at my father’s. It was actually my nan that bought it for me. I never remember my nan. She passed away when I was very, very young. But it was something I was very, very attached to. I used to take it everywhere, drag it on a lead. I always wanted a dog but I wasn’t allowed it. So I had that. When I was very, very young. So that went everywhere with me. Then I got into my cars. But it’s still up in the loft somewhere.

Emily: So it was really important to you?

Matthew: Very important. ‘Cos I have no recollection of my nan and it was something she bought me as well.

Emily: Yeah, and what colour was it? Did you say?

Matthew: I said it looked like a little Yorkshire terrier and the body was rigid, like a plastic frame. And it was blue and white. Well. probably more like grey and white now. It had quite coarse hair. So yeah, it got dragged everywhere with me.

Emily: So if we could talk about dolls now. I don’t know if you had any dolls?

09:53 – Yolanda I had some Barbie dolls and I often think my Barbie dolls have come back to haunt me! [laughing] and I also had a really nice doll when I gave birth to one of my daughters and I don’t know what’s happened to her. I think she’s been packed away. Kind of porcelain doll.

Paul: Very fragile to offer to a child

Yolanda: No, no, it was mine.

Paul: And how long did you keep it?

Yolanda: I’ve still got them all.

Paul: Even the porcelain one?

10:24 – Yolanda The one porcelain one I’ve got. The others have broken. But the one I had when I gave birth to my daughter was like . . . You know one of these with the starey eyes and like, porcelain ones, they’re really like . . . [Laughter].

Paul: One thing I like really, I don’t like dolls, but I like the Chinese dolls. They have a certain . . .

Yolanda I think my dolls come back to haunt me. I really do.

Paul: No. Oh shit. I hope they don’t disturb you too much.

Yolanda I don’t know but I think … [laughter]

Tomasz: [speaks Polish]

Michal: Quite a few yeah
[Laughter]

Michal: That was all then, in that in that time.

Emily: Dolls can include action men and things as well I guess so …

Andrea: Here’s some dolls so

Paul: Et voila!
[dolls and action men being passed round]

[Some unclear and overlapping talking from here to 14.22 – transcribed where possible as separate conversations. Some unintelligible]

Michal: In that time, we were doing the Matchbox thing, yeah.

Yolanda: These are the ones that that come back to haunt me.

Momondou: My sisters used to have these.

Matthew: Ah, this one’s cool.

Michal: He’s like French I guess. French. Gendarme.

Paul: [Sings ‘Barbie Girl’] These are the ones that come back to haunt you?

Emily: And do you remember the kinds of games you played with Barbies?

Yolanda Changing their clothes, brushing their hair, putting their pyjamas on, bathing them, powdering their faces.

Michal: This one is Russian. It surely is.

Meg: Why do you know it’s Russian?

Michal: Because he’s Russian. He’s smart though.

Meg: Is it because of his suit?

Michal: Yeah. And he’s skinny, so he must be Russian. They don’t eat well.

Meg: So you didn’t have one like this then?

Michal: No. I didn’t like him.

Meg: I didn’t play with dolls.

Michal: What did you play with?

Meg: I played more with digging and construction toys

Michal: Really?

Meg: I was more into climbing trees.

Michal: There was one girl in my company, she would play football with us. I was hitting on her in the 80s but then she told us she’s not interested in boys anyway. Strange.

Paul: Do you not think on a subconscious level, it’s preparation for . . .

Andrea: Yeah

Paul: . . . adult life

Andrea: What, dolls?

Paul: That’s just my point of view, that’s all.

Andrea: Yeah maybe. I think it depends.

Emily: Do you think that applies to boys as well?

Paul: I agree, I agree. But my point of view on that is that a child of course, playing with toys that are very like house toys, all that. The childhood growing up in Cameroon, which is more – you learnt to cook for real when you were about six years old or whatever. For everything else, you know. We found a big wheel that had come off a car or something. And we’d just jump on it all day. You know.

Andrea: I think there’s a lot of play that has nothing to do with toys.

Paul: Something like that, that’s it.

Andrea: Climbing trees, things like that, that I did a lot of when I was little.

Paul: For me it’s sort of like, how do I say that? Conditioning them.

Emily: And you had those when you were a child?

Yolanda: The Barbies, yeah.

Yolanda [looking at Tiny Tears]: My cousin used to have these. Feed them a bottle.

Lee: You can get them that wet themselves

Yolanda: Yeah. Put their nappies on. I find these kind of menacing.

Meg [looking at Action Man]: Yeah, they’re a bit scary. This one’s a bit scarey as well. I’ve never seen dolls that you can actually move their hands. Did you play with dolls?

Amy: No. I wasn’t allowed dolls. I wasn’t allowed Barbies. It was a bad representation of females.

13:22 – Matthew: One doll I remember really vividly was my eldest sister, she was born in ’67 and my nan again, bless her, but when she bought my sister a little doll about that size and in that colour and a little one that was an Afro baby, which in ’67 was very, very rare. My sister’s still got that doll and it was for my nan to say that we have to accept anybody for who they are, which I thought was lovely. But in ’67, to find a baby like that, a baby doll of that colour I think was quite rare. And I was quite proud that my nan did that she bought one of each colour. So when my sister was bought it and my sister was so proud, as I say, she’s still got that doll. She’s very proud of it. And it was just to tell us that it doesn’t matter what colour you are, it was drilled into us from when we were very young that there’s no prejudice. And I thought that was very good, a way of doing it. Me, it was Action Men. Which is why I’ve got the jeep and the boat and helicopter and the tank and I wish I’d got all that now because, you know, it was the old Action Men stuff so it wasn’t all this plastic nowadays, it was metal and the tower and the parachute and the submarine and you know … And I loved it all and I kept them for a very, very long time and then I moved out of home and I suppose my parents had got to the stage, no you’ve taken up the loft, I’m a bit of a hoarder you know and some of this stuff has to go. So I actually did sell all my Action Men stuff. I sold it to a collector actually so I was quite pleased about that.

14:57 – My two sisters, I know they’ve kept all their dolls. They’ve got you know, a lot of dolls. My second sister was a bit of a tomboy and she fell out with my other sister, she used to rip all the heads off. [laughter] But as a child, it’s a thing that you do, isn’t it? But no, Action Men were a big thing ‘cause we’d got a big, extensive garden as well so climbing the trees and fighting and all that. Yeah, I spent a lot of time

Emily: And you mention your siblings, did you play together with your things or was it kind of?

Matthew: No I think there’s quite an age gap. I’ve got two elder sisters. There’s quite an age gap so when I was born, my sisters were like nine and ten so I suppose, because of that age gap, they were growing out of that stuff as I was growing into it so it wasn’t a thing that we … My older sister was very good and bought all the dolls and my other sister was a tomboy with her guns and her arrows and so they clashed a bit that way but I was very … but that doll that my nan bought my sister always stuck out cause I thought it was such a good way to introduce it at such a young age. That was good.

Emily: Sounds like toys were quite important if they’d kept them as well?

16:14 – Matthew: Yes. I think again, it just brings back nice childhood memories, doesn’t it? It doesn’t hurt to think about those sometimes. It’s healthy.

Emily: Were you sad to let the old toys go when you?

Matthew: When I look at it now, probably not ‘cos I’d got such a large collection of it. But it went to a collector who’s probably going to have more fun with it being locked up in an attic. I collect toy cars, I used to collect toy cars as well and like they’re all sat in an attic which … it’s nice collecting them but it’s not if they’re locked away, is it? You know, so you’ve got to … my mother always kept her first toy prams, the little metal ones, you know. But again, if they’re just locked up in an attic, is it worth keeping them, I don’t know – if they’re not being enjoyed and seen, you know?

17:12 – Andrea: So what about anyone else, does anyone else have any memories of the Action Man type dolls or? I know some people were saying over here – you were saying something about – did you have similar dolls when you were growing up?

Michal: Action figures. No, I don’t think so. Yeah, I would play soldiers but that was a different story.

Momodou: Star Wars figures

Michal: They wanted to play with me because I was good at hiding, you know, like a crave you know, I could dig myself up, you know? With only eyes open, and . . .

Tomasz: When Action Men came out, on the market, I think that was the early 80’s yeah? We was already making the bows and the arrows and chasing each other in the forest, do you know what I mean? Preparing for our service in the army. Not playing with toys then.

Andrea: You didn’t play with toys, you were just doing it . . .

Tomasz: We were the toys

Andrea: We were just saying a similar thing down here actually.

Tomasz: I was chasing my dad, can you make me a bow, do you know what I mean? I make my own arrows.

Michal: Did you make Russian gun for yourself? I did it. From the wood, pieces of things you put together?

Tomasz: With a little knife, i’n it? Penknife?

Michal: That was it

Tomasz: That was it.

Paul: I was 7 years old and I am the last of two brother and one sister. The second last when I was 7 was 24. We had a 14 year gap difference between me and him. So, by 7 years old, I was just playing with my cousin and one were 9 and the other one 10 and by then we already go for the weekend camp in the forest for like 3,4 days, just living, hunting, whatever, you know, the food. This is how we spend our weekend and it’s way more entertaining I think than to play with a toy on the table.

Andrea: And I think a lot of play or a lot of experiences when you’re children are actually nothing to do with toys as objects. They’re to do with what you’re doing and who you’re hanging out with.

Paul: The Western and Africa, Asia and probably places like Antarctica you know places where childhood is not suppressed but in a way, I don’t know how to say it, forced to, forced to adult life, not, what was the word I said … con, I can’t remember, but anyways

19:45 Andrea: It’s not separated out in the same way, maybe.

Paul: Mmhm

Emily: Did you have a story?

Bal: Only a slight one. I had Action Man when I was younger and it’s my favourite, then my mum bought me a Hulk. And the Hulk was like much bigger, much stronger and it was Hulk smash so Action Man had to be the enemy, you know

Matthew: Saying that, I had one of those Hulks so I suppose it was like a doll in a way, in a cage with a pump action in the back, you’d come and pick him up and he would expand and smash the cage open. And again, I’ve still got that! [laughing] But yes, saying that, I remember that as well.

20.30 – Emily: Shall we move on to construction toys? Is any people have any stories of ..

Michal: Like models?

Emily: Construction toys so maybe Lego or Meccano .

Andrea: Things you make.

Michal: I had this set but it wasn’t Lego actually, it was something else, like cheaper ones. Like the wheels actually, it didn’t spin. But it was pretty good, it could create things. And then I ate a few and my father took them from me. Really small pieces

21:10 Paul: I think we all played Jenga. That’s a very old game. We used to play it from time to time. Once a sort of like .. we live in a village of about a thousand inhabitants and the closest city was about 25 kilometres away so you had to take the bus take the bus or whatever. [background noise] yeah once they had it in the town village the town club, every family had it within the year, always more communication. You know, you live in a town with a thousand inhabitants, everyone knows each other, it’s more community life. Who played Jenga? Anyone?

Amy: Everyone’s played Jenga I think

Lee: Most of mine I think was football and camping. Andrea: We’ve brought a few construction toys along.

[passing construction toys round]

Michal [tipping out Lego]: Okay, you carry on!

Emily: So do these bring back any memories for anyone?

Michal: I put these together, yeah? And all the pieces fit.

22.45 – Matthew: It was always an old Quality Street tin, big old tin, always full of the Lego. It was always in that. So Lego, stuff like Meccano didn’t interest me at all.

Amy: I think Meccano was a bit posh.

Michal: Do you know what ‘Lego’ means? ‘Do well’. In Dutch.

Meg: Duo?

Michal: Do Well

Meg: Do well

Michal: Two words.

Matthew: Even nowadays I still have no interest at all. But yeah, so Lego, it was a good old favourite. It was always the one thing you could never put back and it was always something like that. The one you always trod on when you’d got nothing on your feet. You always found it then. I remember building castles and houses and. So Lego, yeah. But stuff like Meccano was just a no go. It would have been a waste. It would have gone to my sister. She’d have loved it, not me. Yes, so Lego I remember. It was good stuff.

[Overlapping inaudible talking]

Emily: Anyone else?
[Background noise obscuring talking. Overlapping talking.]

Michal [looking at Meccano crane]: These I had at school. And that was part of my problem. I think. We had to, how you say, we had to build things from bits.

Meg: Using these?

Michal: Yeah

Meg: It’s quite difficult isn’t it? Quite difficult to make. I was more into Lego.

24.45 – Emily: Were anyone’s toys passed down through the family? Do you remember any older brothers or sisters giving you toys?

Matthew: Mousetrap. That was passed down. Again we’ve still got … a lot of board games were passed down you keep those in the family don’t you? You know, get them out at Christmas time. Twister and Mousetrap Connect Four and was it Kerplunk with all the little pins wasn’t it?

Meg: Straws

Matthew: Yeah, so those.

25:24 – Michal: I think there are trains still maybe still in my family. My grandfather bought them, some are from Russia I guess. And it was only actually railways and the trains on them so we built like board, big one so we put it together only in the Christmas time when all family came. And we built on the wooden board everything like mountains, trees, and the trains … it was fun – they’re probably still there.

Paul: Meg – I haven’t heard no story of yours.

Meg: I used to play with Scalextric. They’re like racing cars and you have little buttons and you power them up and then they go round and they’re electronic. I used to play more with my brother’s toys than he used to play with them because I was very tomboy too. So I used to construct all of his stuff and set up little tracks.

26:25 – Paul: And he used to play with your Barbies and?

Meg: No, no [laughter]. I just used to wreck all of his stuff basically.

Paul: Right. How old was your old brother?

Meg: He’s older, yeah.

Paul: He was not getting pissed off all the time?

Meg: Um I think he quite liked the challenge so we used to just make little tracks and …

Paul: Very nice. You had a very good bond with your brother?

Meg: I did, yes, yeah. But yeah, we did have a lot of like racing cars and things like that. But we also really loved Lego so

27:07 – Paul: How old were you in your oldest memory starting to play with him? 6? Meg: No, about three.

Paul: Fantastic. And how old was he?

Meg: He’s two years older

Paul: 2 years older, so 5 yeah.

Meg: So yeah, we used to make a lot of things out of Lego. So yeah, but it was the Scalextric that was the big thing

Matthew: Yeah, it was the Skalextric me and my sister would get out and race each other.

Emily: It’s an electric track isn’t it? Can you describe it?

Meg: It’s a big racing track. And it’s electric and you have little tools that you power the cars up. So, it’s to do with like you can pump the cars and …

Paul: You know the Hot Wheels? Hot Wheels! Or whatever.

Meg: It’s like that, yeah. And you can construct the circuit to go anywhere and then you race your cars on a track.

Paul: It can go all around the room can’t it?

Meg: Yeah, yeah.

Matthew: Yeah, we’d got the racing cars and we got Mini Coopers as well and that was a present that my parents had bought my sisters but I used to play. I’ll have a go on that so that was another one.

29.15 – Emily: And were there any toys that you remember seeing advertised that you really wanted or a friend wanted and you maybe couldn’t have?

Matthew: Oh no, I got the one I wanted! [laughter]. It was a big track and it had a sort of corner bit. And it was like a computerised plastic tank thing and I always remember the advert, you had a tray and you could programme it to go say 5 paces forward, turn right, 3 paces that way. And the advert was a little boy, you put an apple on the tray on the back and he’d go down the hallway, into the lane and he’d driven it up to his dad. And that was always the advert and I never, ever mastered getting this thing to go where I wanted it to.

28:56 – And again, it’s something I’ve kept. I’ve got it in its original box and I was probably about 8 or 9 when I had that. When I say yeah, I sound a bit spoilt saying “yes, I got it” but I used to have to really work hard through the year to make sure you know I earned it. I had to do my chores but yeah, it was just something that really sticks. It was on TV that much, I think every little boy wanted this big tractor. But I never delivered the apple to my dad, he never got the apple. But it was a challenge trying to get it there. But that was one present, one thing I saw and thought “I really, really, really wanted that”. So the advertisement must have been a good one, mustn’t it?

Tomasz: Can I ask about the toys you’ve got? What about Matchbox mini cars?

Emily: Did you used to have some?

Tomasz: Oh yeah, plenty of them. I think I was 6 and my friend at kindergarten, he had a nice Mercedes with open doors and I was telling Michal and basically I had two. I had a fire brigade truck and a police car. And bugger, he wouldn’t exchange. I was offering two of them for what one of them cost because the doors was opening, do you know what I mean? But he wouldn’t accept.

Emily: And how small were they? Can you describe them? Were they ..?

Tomasz: Oh, they were tiny. Mini ones. And bigger, more expensive.

30:36 – Matthew: I think you’re right because some of them were really the Matchbox size, weren’t they? ‘Cos that was one I collected ‘cos my father gave me his dinky toys. Now he’s gone, they’re immaculate in their boxes. But as I say, some of them were really, really small, weren’t they? Yeah, they did get larger and larger, didn’t they?

Tomasz: More expensive though.

Matthew: Yeah. But I used to sit, I used to have like had a play, it was like a spare lounge, it was like a play room and I would sit in the middle and start to circle and circle and circle them. And I used to do that once a week, because I wanted to fill the room with my cars. So if I got a new one, I’d have to put them all out again to see how many cars could fill that room. But no the little ones were … it was nice because you could get every make of car.

Yolanda: Really?

Matthew: The Citroen Dyane was my favourite. Very collectable. But like I say, the more expensive ones with doors that opened.

Tomasz: Yeah

Matthew: Yeah, but they were a lot more expensive.

Michal: And then radio controlled one after that. I never had one. I always wanted to have radio control and my friend had but lately I had all of them. [laughter]. You can buy cheap in Argos now. [Laughter] I was on the fun in London you know, on the Cowes, racing boats. Crazy, maybe but I’m not insane. It’s a lot of fun.

Matthew: It’s like I was saying earlier. There’s always a bit of child still in us and that never goes. Anyone who says that goes is a liar. We always have a bit of a kid inside of us somewhere.

Tomasz: You remember you put together these plastic models, planes, whatever. I had a Sputnik. I had a Sputnik. I put it together, it was all available things in the time when I was in Poland.

Matthew: I had the model airplane kits, making model aeroplanes and that. And that was quite nice.

32:37 – Emily: Did you paint them as well?

Matthew: Yes, I was that sad. Put the little stickers on. I had all the old fashioned fighter planes and again, I’ve still got them all because that’s where my father keeps them. Actually he needs to sort his loft out. They’re still up there, but um. I always remember my older sister having a sewing machine as well which it actually worked. She’s still got that as well. She used to play with that quite a bit, the little sewing machine.

Michal: Do you want to ask any more questions?

Emily: I think that’s pretty much everything, unless anyone has anything else that they want to talk about?

Yolanda: Which toy museum is this? Because the one I go to is the one down under the bridge.

Emily: The station, under the arch of the station.

Yolanda: You didn’t turn up with any trains and stuff. ‘Cos you’ve got like a big train section?

Emily: Yeah, a big train set, yeah.

Yolanda: Yeah, old trains and then cars and things, you didn’t bring those?

33:37 – Emily: No, I’m afraid we didn’t bring anything from the collection but you should definitely come in

Yolanda: ‘Cos it’s really good isn’t it?

Emily: Yeah, it’s great. Come and see. It’s a lovely place.

Matthew: Where is that actually again?

Emily: It’s just – there’s a bridge under the station,

Matthew: I live by the train station, so . . .

Emily: Oh really? There’s like a drive down from the train station. It’s in one of the old train arches, It’s a really interesting space.

Lee: Funnily enough I was in there a month or two ago. A friend of mine in Hove has got a massive, massive collection of 1980’s Beanos, Dandys and like everything from Batman, Spiderman, Fantastic Four, the whole lot. And I did some research on it, on the valuation of it and what I understand, the lower the issue number, the more valuable they are.

Emily: Oh really?

Lee: And some of the issues he’s got are zero, one to ten, you know what I mean?

Emily: So they’re really the oldest ones.

Lee: They’re probably worth a few bob. I’ve been in there, you know, to see if they want to take them off our hands. Do you have some kind of an expert, who can . . .

Emily: We don’t, but I’m sure there must be someone around, ‘cos we don’t.

Lee: There’s another comic exchange place a little further down the road.

Emily: Yeah, that would probably be better, ‘cos we don’t do magazines and comics and stuff like that.

Lee: There was one type that I had when I was a kid, ‘cause I was always into practical things and for us it was either like things like bikes or it would be football, do you know what I mean? Football kits and footballs and stuff like that, or it would be something related to art.

Emily: Oh really?

35:50 – Lee: And basically, I had this thing called the reflector screen and it’s basically a sheet of semi-transparent plastic on a stand and what you do is you put a piece of paper on one side and an image on the other side, depending on whether you’re left or right handed. And what would happen is, the image would reflect onto the glass and if you look at it from the right angle, it looks as though that image is already on your blank piece of paper. And because the piece of glass is semi-transparent, you can then draw it. And if it wasn’t for that particular Christmas present, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now, sitting on the high street painting pictures.

Emily: So it’s influenced your life, that toy?

Lee: Well, it kind of taught me. The first thing I ever drew was Knight Rider car from a Knight Rider annual, the front cover of the Knight Rider annual. And I did it a couple of times and running up and down the stairs, showing me dad and mum and that. Me dad wasn’t the most encouraging but at the same time he did turn round to me and say to me at one point “can you go it free hand now?” So I thought I’d give it a go, i’n it? So I gave it a go and lo and behold, because I’d already done it a couple of times, and was using this reflector screen, it became second nature to me. The lines were already do you know what I mean? I knew exactly where to put everything. Do you know what I mean? And so at 5 years of age I’d be drawing pictures of three dimensional towers and thing like that.

Paul: I’m still trying to do that, you know.

Lee: And it made me realise from a very early age that art is actually something that can be learnt, that you can teach yourself. Do you know what I mean?

Paul: Yeah, and the younger the better. Because you say you can draw three dimensional car and I’m still trying.

Lee: And I’ve never turned back since. It was actually what I was going to do when I grew up. They told me I was going to grow up to be an artist.

Matthew: It’s the same with musical toys, isn’t it? I think, you know as children, we all had a recorder. My older sister played clarinet and my other sister violin and I play a range of instruments and I think that’s because we had that opportunity as a child. We weren’t bought the recorder to have lessons, we were just there had a toy then, wasn’t it? But then, you know, us three, we got into our music, probably from having those recorders. I think every parent is always frightened a relative’s going to buy your child a set of drums or a cymbal but as I say, like with that art thing influencing you, perhaps the recorder with me and my sisters influenced us to actually follow through and get into music. Yeah, sometimes I think, perhaps a lad who had Meccano, perhaps I’d design buildings now, I don’t know. It could help you, couldn’t it? It could influence you to what you do in the future.

40:01 – Paul: What I was saying earlier is that certain toys condition your future and open doors to your future so…

Matthew: I do think nowadays in our society, children don’t have, I know if I say it, I can look at it and say “in my day” but I think children don’t stay children long enough nowadays and toys nowadays, if you gave a child that, they’ll throw it and say “I’d rather have a mobile phone.” And I do think it’s quite sad now that they don’t use their imagination. You know, with toys, you’ve got to use your imagination, with toys and I think it’s a shame that a lot of that’s gone now. Where they sit on the computer on a computer game, or their mobile, on the internet. Where, you know, if you had a load of building blocks, you’ve got to use your imagination to build something with that and I think a lot of that’s getting lost now and that’s a shame.

Paul: Yeah, but that’s life I suppose.

Matthew: That’s it, my grandparents probably said the same about us when we were young, you know. You know “back in our day”. But I just think it’s a shame that I don’t think toys .. Children aren’t bought toys. They are when they’re really young, yes. But 9, 10, I still wanted toys but nowadays they don’t do they, so much? I think that is the way of the world, isn’t it? How things change. I know and it’s nice, it brings back memories that you forget. I was sat with a gentleman the other day talking about old children’s programmes you know. And we sat there for about an hour just laughing but you know and remembering programmes and you know like the Wombles and the Bagpuss and it is nice to revert back to that because it’s your innocent days, isn’t it when you see the world as lovely. It is nice

40:56 Paul: What do you think is the difference between the nowadays toys and the fact then, the days when you were young, how you used to play, the difference between now and then.

Andrea: I think it all depends on how children play with them.

Paul: In your own childhood

Andrea: Me?

Paul: And how you see them now how kids play, or your grandchildren.

Andrea: In my experience it’s not that much different actually.

Paul: Yeah? Okay.

Andrea No, I think it’s how you play with them. I think when you look at construction toys, there’s the people who when given a box of Lego, want to make the kit that it tells you to build and then there’s people who go “no actually, I’m going to take these bricks and make something different out of them. You’re telling me to build a castle. I’m not going to build a castle.

Matthew: I think sometimes when look at my great niece now, she’s four and you know, she’s got in the garden, a Wendy house and dolls and all that and she’s on her own doing her role play and that and I think sometimes if you sit back and watch that, that can show you how that child is, if they’ve got any issues. She does lovely role plays, she’s cooking for her dolls and all that. And I suppose that is another way to identify that if there is a child having a rough time, then sit back and watch and you can see that. Without any hassle, that can give you an insight straight away into how they’re behaving so I think toys are helpful in so many different ways aren’t they, you know and … you see I love to watch her, not just because she’s my great niece because she’s doing the motherly things you know, it’s sweet that way, you know. But I suppose it can show up other things, can’t it as well?

Andrea: Yeah I think your toys or the way you play with toys probably reflect who you are as a person.

Matthew: Yes

Andrea: And whether … because someone was saying about you know the toys that we play with and how that leads in to maybe what we do in later life, and whether that’s just actually again the toys that you’re interested in playing with showed who you were as a person and that then affected the future life, rather than it being the toys conditioned you to then being . . .

Paul: It’s the toys that one chooses, again.

Andrea: Exactly, yes, I would agree with you. It’s the games, what you do with it. So you know, you could give ten different people an action man, a Barbie or a pile of bricks and they’d all do something different with it, depending on who they are.

43:16 Matthew: It makes me laugh, like a lot of young children, you buy them all these toys at Christmas and they play with the box! [laughter] That’s always the bit that amazes me, isn’t it? You know, that sometimes the box is a lot more interesting, isn’t it, than the actual toy that was in it.

Andrea: Boxes are great! You can do so many things with them. [laughter]

Matthew: Yeah, and the toilet roll.

Michal: You can sleep on them.

Matthew: You can sleep on the boxes, yeah.

Andrea: So has anyone got anything else they’d like to share or are people getting to the stage of thinking ‘I’ve said enough, I’ve had enough, I’d like to wander off now’?

Paul: I need a cigarette

Andrea: Or I need a cigarette or whatever.

Yolanda: I need a cigarette too.

RECORDING ENDS 44m 04s

First Base Reminiscence Session

Members of First Base Day Centre discussing their memories of teddy bears, dolls and construction toys. The short version (4m 34s) of the video is focused on teddy bears and the role of imagination in play, while the full version (43m 11s) covers a range of toys, as well as other memories of childhood and the role of play and toys in identity formation.