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16th September 2014
Location: Brighton Toy and Model Museum
Interviewer: Marc Sinclair
Videographer: Sean Kelly

0.04 – Holly: Yes, I was a big fan of Lego. I remember buying a massive plastic box of Lego at a car boot sale for about £5 or £10 and we walked three or four stalls down and there was more Lego and Dad’s like: “don’t let her buy any more Lego, I’m going to put this stuff in the car.” And he walked off with my box of Lego and came back and was like “you bought any more?” But before that, I had the Duplo which was basically the baby version of Lego.

Holly: Yes, it was plastic; it was quite bright coloured. There were four different colours so it was red and blue and yellow and green.

Holly: we had zoo animals and we had a house, bits that you can make up a house with so I’d either play happy families with the house or I’d play making the zoo. Then people could go round and you had the keepers and they fed the zoo animals and stuff like that.

Marc: Bit like a stately home

Holly Yeah

Marc: So you came to own your Lego from car boot sales

1.15 – Holly: Yeah, I did get some for Christmas and stuff. I got certain sets and packs of … I had the Egyptian archaeology set, where you built up the sphinx and then could excavate it and find the mummy underneath or something.

Holly: I don’t have the Duplo because that got given to my cousins, who already had some so they had a mass of Duplo afterwards. I don’t know if they’ve still got it. I’m betting that they’ve given it to their cousins or someone else. We do still have the Lego, like two boxes of Lego, in the loft.

Marc: And I daren’t ask. Do you still play with it?

Holly: No, not in recent years. It is quite far at the back. It’s not really reachable at the moment. I do remember playing with it when I was quite little and playing with the Duplo and my mum’s godsons were over and they’re about ten years older than me but they were fairly happy to crawl about on the floor and play with us and stuff.

2.22 – And I remember one day, I was playing with the younger brother, because these two godsons were brothers and we were making a zoo and each animal enclosure had to be made from the same coloured bricks and that was quite important. ‘Cause his brother came over and put the wrong colour brick, put the red brick on the blue side or something and I went “NO!” and snatched it off and the brother that I was originally playing with was like “we’re making them all the same colour” and so it was a bit of a …

3.03 – Holly: I think one of the memories are making the zoo and telling my older friend off for not putting the right colours in the right places. The other one I think is lying on the dining room floor with, I had the sheets of the base of the Lego, and they had a road on them, and then I’d laid out the road and I’d laid out some other boards and made a little house so yes, making a mess on the dining room floor so people could step on it I think was probably the best …

RECORDING ENDS 3.41

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16th September 2014
Location: Brighton Toy and Model Museum
Interviewer: Marc Sinclair
Videographer: Sean Kelly

0.03 – Marc: Holly, can you tell me where you were born?

Holly: Yeah, I was born in Crawley in 1989.

Marc: And did you spend your childhood in Crawley?

Holly: Yeah, up until the age of 7, when we moved to Brighton, we lived in Crawley.

Marc: And where in Brighton are you now?

Holly: Saltdean

Marc: Right, now let’s go way back when you were a little one. Did you have a teddy bear?

0.32 – Holly: Yeah, I did have teddy bears. I had a few actually. I had one called Benny and I don’t remember where he was from. He was just there. He was quite tall. I think he was about that tall. He was kind of a pale beige colour with fake leather paws and ears that I stroked off because they’d got a scratch on. So now he’s got just the backing of the leather material on his ears and his paws.

Marc: So how old .. His name’s Benny? So how old’s Benny?

Holly: I don’t know. I think I got him near when I was born or around my birth. I think he was a bear that got brought for the baby either before I was born or soon after.

Marc: So he wasn’t a hand me down?

Holly: No, he wasn’t a hand me down.

Marc: Do you know where it was manufactured or Benjy was?

Holly: I think he’s got a label on saying ‘made in England’.

Marc: So he may have been bought before you were born or just after you were born so dare I ask a lady her age?

Holly: I’m 25. So he’s about 25 years old I think.

Marc: So you’ve just told me Benjy’s how old?

Holly: 25 I think.

Marc: How did you play with him?

Holly: I don’t remember how I played with him. I think I just carried him about at some points. I did go through periods of different toys though but yeah I don’t really remember playing with him. He’s just always been there. It was in my bed a lot for night times and he still is actually [laughing] but I don’t remember playing with him on specific occasions.

Marc: So would you look on him more as a companion than …?

Holly: Yeah. A bit like Rupert to Stewie in ‘Family Guy’ I think. He was more of a friend than a toy.

Marc: A constant companion.

Holly: Yeah.

Marc: How did you feel about him? Or feel? Hang on a minute let me just rephrase that. How do you feel about him?

Holly: Just as a constant reminder of childhood. I don’t remember feeling anything especially positive or negative towards him as a child but the fact that I’ve still got him must have made it positive for me. So yeah.

Marc: Basically he’s celebrating his silver jubilee!

Holly: He is. I must remind him when I go home tonight.

Marc: Or celebrating your silver jubilee. As you’ve had him for 25 years, he must be very important to you?

Holly: Yeah, I think so. He was one of the main toys or bears when I was young I think.

Marc: Do you have a ‘best’ memory of him?

Holly: No, not really. The only one I really remember of him is sitting in the garden on a bench, holding him and cuddling him. I remember my dad going “what’s happened to his ears?” ‘cos this was soon after the lack of fake leather on his ear happened and I was just like “oh, it scratched. I didn’t want it on there any more or something.” So ..

3.47 – Marc: So that’s talked about your teddy bears. Shall we move on to your dollies?

Holly: Yeah, I do have other bears if you would like to hear about them.

Marc: Ooh you’ve got some more bears? It sounds like you have a plethora of bears.

Holly: I do, yes.

Marc: So, before we move on to dollies, how many bears do you have?

Holly: Well, I can think of three key ones that I thought would be interesting to talk about for the project. So we have Benny and we also have Bupa because I had my tonsils out when I was five and ‘cos we were covered under BUPA cover, we got into the hospital and there was a welcome pack from BUPA, for all the children that they treated. And in the top of this bag, was a bear. And he went into the operation with me, I think. I don’t think he left my side for a while afterwards.

Marc: Oh that’s a lovely story, isn’t it? So it’s 20 odd years ago you had that.

Holly: Yeah,

Marc: And you’ve still got it?

Holly: I’ve still got him. He doesn’t live in the bed though; he lives in the toy box on the top of the stairs.

Marc: And you’ve got a third one?

Holly: And my third one is – I think I was a bit older when I got my third one. She was called Paria and I got her one Christmas and I’ve got a little sister and we always had to have the same thing but different colours or something. So I got a purple doodle bear , they were called and you could draw on them with felt tip pens and then put them in the washing machine and it washed off. And my sister got a pink one. And I think they’re in the toy box as well, with Bupa.

Marc: Oh but of course the star of the show is …

Holly: Obviously Benny

Marc: And he sleeps in your same bed, after all these years.

Holly: Yeah, he kind of sits in the corner, beside the pillows.

Marc: I’ve got several myself. I won’t tell you where they are, they’re right behind my bed, looking down on me. Right, so that’s a lovely story. Thank you for those. Now let’s move on to the dollies.

Holly: Sorry for demanding that we go back to bears

5.43 – Marc: No, no, no, you carry on. If you think of something, just, please do that, that’s not a problem. Right so let’s move on to the dollies.

Holly: Yep

Marc: Did you or do you still play with any dolls?

Holly: Yeah, I did have quite a few dolls. I remember one of my first dolls. She was called Katie and she had kind of dreadlocked hair that stands up on end,’ cos I used to play with it under my nose. She was a bit weird actually, Katie. She had plastic arms and legs and a plastic head but then a soft body. Yeah, I think she was one of those early ‘90’s dolls. I think there must have been a few. I remember having a few like that.

Marc: What do you think her body stuffing was?

Holly: I think it’s just the toy stuffing that you can buy in the fabric shops now. I remember once we were on holiday in Greece and the fabric connecting her knee to the plastic had ripped where it had rubbed on the inside of the plastic basically from the inside and my Gran sewed her up with one of those travel sewing kits and I demanded having the midnight blue thread because blue was my favourite colour and my Gran was saying “I’ve got beige, it won’t notice” and I’m like “no, I want blue Gran. [laughing]

Marc: Like she’d had her appendix out by the sounds of it.

Holly: Yeah, and then she’s got a line of about 4 or 5 stitches in dark blue, on her knee.

Marc: Oh, bless her. What I don’t understand, if she’s got a fabric body and plastic arms and a plastic head of course, and plastic arms and legs, isn’t the body a bit more flexible?

Holly: Yeah, it’s a bit floppy I think but I don’t really remember too much. I have still got her, but she’s a bit far deep in the loft to get her out but yeah, I think it was just so she was soft in the middle. I’m not really sure why she’s got a soft body and plastic arms.

7.38 – Marc: How did you come to own this rather strange dolly?

Holly: Again, she was just there. Must have been brought for a Christmas or a birthday. I don’t really remember. I do know that we stopped going to Greece on big, family holidays when I was about three or four and I remember having her on a family holiday with my grandparents so I must have had her from quite a young age.

I know that I was a bridesmaid for my aunt when I was about six, I think. Me and my sister had matching bridesmaid dresses and my Gran had made them and she had a bit of material left and she actually made a doll’s dress for me and my sister so we’d each have a doll to take with us to the wedding ‘cos we were quite small and quite scared and stuff and it was Katy that went. I’ve got a picture somewhere of me in this bridesmaid dress with a doll under my arm in a matching dress.

8.32 – Marc: And she went all the way to Greece as well? Did she go on honeymoon?

Holly: No, I don’t think she …

Marc: That’s a lovely story but she’s not in the toy box at the top of the stairs?

Holly: No, my granddad was a very clever man and he used to do carpentry as a hobby and he made me and my sister several toys and two things that he made were dolls’ rocking baskets like cribs and a doll’s bunk bed for Christmas for different years and I think she’s sitting in one of those in our loft. ‘Cos we’ve still got all the bunk beds and the cribs and I think she got put in one of them when we put her away when I was a bit older.

Marc: Obviously she wasn’t your only dolly

9.19 – Holly: No, I remember another doll and I think she had a soft body as well but she was one of my favourites because she had blue hair. She had blue, curly hair and I remember going, my dad took me driving somewhere. I don’t remember where we went but it was a big, red structure, a bit like Meccano but huge and I was in the car and quite little and I used to get quite badly travel sick and I was actually ill on the doll, with the blue hair, my favourite, blue haired doll.

And we got home and I remember telling my mum “oh, Dad took me this really scary place and it was really far away and it was big and red” and my mum heard the story and she put the doll in the washing machine to try and clean her up because I didn’t want to lose this doll and the doll must have had a rip in her stuffing somewhere ‘cos all the stuffing came out in the washing machine so we couldn’t actually save her. I was quite upset and I was like “can’t we re-stuff her?” And my mum was like “no, we can’t do that.” So she got thrown out, as a casualty of travel sickness.

Marc: Putting her in the bath would have been better. Oh what a shame. So this dolly, the blue haired one was as important to you as Katy?

Holly: Yeah, I think at the time, they were of similar importance but I don’t remember if I had them at the same time but I think I do know I had her because I’ve seen a photo recently of me sitting on a sofa or something and there’s this doll with blue hair on the side.

Marc: So we know that Katy’s in the loft, the other one’s in the bin because all her stuffing fell out

Holly: Yeah [laughing]

11.04 – Marc: Do you have any other dollies?

Holly: Me and my sister were both big fans of Barbies and we’ve still got a large collection of Barbies of different varieties. I had a bowling Barbie where you could pull her hand back and she let the ball go; we had a teacher Barbie. I think I had a car at one point as well. So yeah, we’ve got a lot of Barbies in a big, wicker basket.

Marc: Did she have her friend with her, all these Barbies?

Holly: Well yeah, we had a couple of Kens and we also had … my sister was a bit of tomboy and she had a lot of Action Men. And so the Action Men often played with the Barbies.

Marc: I see. I’m just trying to envisage that [laughter]. So can you remember, between you and your sister, how many Barbies did you have?

Holly: I would say, including one that weren’t Barbie but were similar sorts of dolls, probably upwards of 20. We had a lot of different Barbies and a lot of kind of variations on Barbie like teacher Barbie or swimming Barbie. I remember getting a cheerleader Barbie when we went to America and we each had our own cheerleader Barbie, again in different coloured uniforms, ‘cos we each had our favourite colours. I don’t remember any of the others at the moment. But yeah, we’ve got a lot of Barbies.

Marc: But you weren’t too keen on the Action Men. Was there any other male dolls for instance that you were interested in?

Holly: Um, we had a few Kens but again, I think they were my sisters. We did share a bit although at some times we had certain dolls that were ours. I remember being quite particular over some of my Barbies. There was one with blue dungarees that I was quite fond of, a bit older than little. I think I must have been about 10 or 12 and she was my favourite one, probably because I had blue dungarees as well. Apart from that, we did have some other dolls. We were talking earlier about Captain Scarlet. We had some little tiny ones that were probably about that big and we had a SPV 4 and one of the Destiny’s Angel’s planes and they would go inside the planes and you could drive them around or the SPV4 and stuff so

Marc: So that’s from the original Gerry Anderson?

Holly: Yeah, I think so. The same granddad that made the bunk bed found them in a box at the recycling centre near our house. And he picked them out, thinking “oh, these don’t look too bad, why have they been thrown away?” And they got given to us because we were the nearest grandchildren and suitable age grandchildren that he had at the time as well. We’ve still got them somewhere in the loft as well.

13.49 – Marc: Did you see the original television series?

Holly: Yeah, my dad was quite a big fan of that and Stingray and Thunderbirds so that seeped through a bit. We had videos with it on and stuff so …

Marc: ‘cos they remade the Captain Scarlet

Holly: I haven’t seen the remake. Oh no, I have, it’s animated, isn’t it? It’s weird isn’t it? Yeah, I don’t like it. One of the best games watching things like Captain Scarlet, Thunderbirds was ‘spot the strings’, where everyone would watch it and go “I can see a string!” [laughing] Sorry that’s a bit off topic.

Marc: No, no, no, that’s fine. I mean I probably did that because they were all, when I was a kid, they were all programmes I was watching. That just shows how old I am. So we’ve talked about some action figures there and you were a bit proprietorial about your Barbie dolls because you wouldn’t let little sister swap.

Holly: Yeah, my sister used to colour the faces in and different tattoos and stuff so I feel I was justified.

Marc: I can understand.

Holly: We have got doll somewhere with coloured in faces or tattoos on and stuff so .

Marc: What did she colour them in with?

Holly: Felt tip pens. She’s going to kill me for saying this.

Marc: Is she a make-up artist?

Holly: No

Marc: Right a lot of these dollies obviously, I mean what with your Granddad making these beautiful things for your dolls (yeah, yeah) Now consigned to the attic, they must mean a lot to you, to still have them.

Holly: Yeah, we did have a clear out a couple of years ago, just to make some space and to make some space for some new stuff that was going in but there was certain things, like Katie was safe, she’s … But there was other things that we did get rid of; like we had a big collection of Sylvanian family and Polly Pockets and they all went and I’m currently uming and ahing about doing it again. I don’t think you can quite get rid of all your childhood toys in one fell swoop; it’s just a bit too traumatic.

Marc: Did you feel quite sad when you had to get rid of …?

Holly: Yeah, definitely and I’m 25 now. I still don’t want to get rid of my Barbies, or my teddy bears. I think it’s partly because you do give them lives and you do give them emotions and you feel like you’re losing them all. Even if you give them to a charity shop or another child, then you feel like you’re abandoning them.

Equally, I don’t know whether this is gender specific but I kind of want to pass some toys on to my kids, so there is a thing of “oh, I don’t want to throw out that toy, I want them to be …” and I think my mum feels it too because she has banned us from throwing out anything that her dad made and has said before “I want the lot to be a secret attic full of toys for when my grandchildren come over.”

So, there is that idea and I think what we threw out was considered less important to us than what we were keeping. But that was about ten years ago so I do think that now more time has passed, we should probably throw out some more that were important originally but not as some of the other toys.

Marc: You’re a lucky girl and your sister to have had such a talented granddad to have made all these things.

Holly: Yeah, he made quite a few things. I was quite into playing house so I have a wooden cooker with a microwave attached. I remember getting that one Christmas and someone else brought me a load of plastic plates and knives and forks and stuff. And one of them was a jelly mould and I made a jelly one night. I put it in the oven of the cooker and then I think my mum took it out and put it in the fridge and then put it back in before I got up the next morning.

I was so delighted when there was a made jelly in my oven the next morning. I cut it up and made everyone have a piece [laughing]

Marc: That’s a wonderful story. Clever mum.

Holly: Yes, clever mum.

Marc: Let’s just move on a bit more. What other memories, as you’ve got all these, you were playing house, you’ve got Ken and Barbie (yeah) and there’s loads of them and your sister is being, you know with your Action Men and your Captain Scarlets and all that. Did you ever put all of these dolls into one sort of scenario type thing? You know, if you were to play with them, would they interact with each other, the toys?

18.16 – Holly: Yeah, not so much across toy genders, it that makes sense. I think we very rarely mixed the bears with the dolls or the Playmobil with the Lego, sort of thing but the action men and the Barbies definitely hang out together. And I remember playing massive Barbie games of having a massive family, ‘cos I wanted all the little dolls to be involved and they were all related somehow and they were all brothers and sisters or cousins and friends and my mum used to get quite annoyed though, ‘cos I used to play the same game every time and she would be like “can’t we play a different game?” and I was like “no, this one’s called Holly and she’s friends with this one and then he’s called Dave or” I don’t remember all their names but I had certain games that I would play with certain of the toys.

09.14 – Marc: That’s lovely. Thank you very much. Right, shall we move on to, it’s to me … you know what I mean by construction toys like Lego and Meccano? (yeah) But it seems to me, that you had construction toys that were constructed for you by Granddad.

Holly: Yes, but they were already made up.

Marc: Yes, but what a lovely thing to have. I can see where your mother’s coming from. “Don’t you dare get rid of those, because they’re unique.”

19.48 – Holly: Yeah, he made us a toy box with our names on the front and everything and my other grandparents saw it and they were like “oh, we could do with one of them for our house. So he had to make a second one to take round to my other grandparents which we’ve now got both because my other grandparents have now died, or first they cleared out their house and stuff so that got given to us when they moved from their house.

Marc: So with all these dollies, all these teddies, that weren’t interacting, did you ever play with construction toys?

Holly: Yes, I was a big fan of Lego. I remember buying a massive plastic box of Lego at a car boot sale for about £5 or £10 and we walked three or four stalls down and there was more Lego and Dad’s like: “don’t let her buy any more Lego, I’m going to put this stuff in the car.” And he walked off with my box of Lego and came back and was like “you bought any more?” But before that, I had the Duplo which was basically the baby version of Lego, or the small child version and they were a bit bigger, they were probably about that big or something so children couldn’t eat them basically, or swallow them.

21.04 – Marc: Good idea. And this Lego was plastic?

Holly: Yes, it was plastic; it was quite bright coloured. There were four different colours so it was red and blue and yellow and green.

Marc: And what did you like to construct with all of this?

Holly: Well, we kind of had, I think we must have had two sets of Duplo that had got mixed ‘cos we had zoo animals and we had a house, bits that you can make up a house with so I’d either play happy families with the house or I’d play making the zoo. Then people could go round and you had the keepers and they fed the zoo animals and stuff like that.

Marc: Bit like a stately home

Holly: Yeah

Marc: So you came to own your Lego from car boot sales

Holly: Yeah, I did get some for Christmas and stuff. I got certain sets and packs of … I had the Egyptian archaeology set, where you built up the sphinx and then could excavate it and find the mummy underneath or something.

Marc: It’s all changed a bit from my day. It was just building blocks, we just made strange items with it but so do you still have all this in the loft?

Holly: I don’t have the Duplo because that got given to my cousins, who already had some so they had a mass of Duplo afterwards. I don’t know if they’ve still got it. I’m betting that they’ve given it to their cousins or someone else. We do still have the Lego, like two boxes of Lego, in the loft.

Marc: And I daren’t ask. Do you still play with it?

Holly: No, not in recent years. It is quite far at the back. It’s not really reachable at the moment. I do remember playing with it when I was quite little and playing with the Duplo and my mum’s godsons were over and they’re about ten years older than me but they were fairly happy to crawl about on the floor and play with us and stuff.

23.17 – And I remember one day, I was playing with the younger brother, because these two godsons were brothers and we were making a zoo and each animal enclosure had to be made from the same coloured bricks and that was quite important. ‘Cause his brother came over and put the wrong colour brick, put the red brick on the blue side or something and I went “NO!” and snatched it off and the brother that I was originally playing with was like “we’re making them all the same colour” and so it was a bit of a …

Marc: A bit of a fight going on.

Holly: Yeah.

Marc: But it was nice to be able to play with some older kids, you know and interact with them with building all these marvellous zoos and sphinxes and all that. What happened if you … did you lose any of the bits? And if so how?

Holly: Um, not really I don’t think. I don’t remember losing special bits. I do know that the Lego, the big person’s Lego, all got mixed in together. So being able to make up the sphinx again, or the Egyptian landscape again was quite hard, ‘cos the Egyptian Lego bits are mixed in with the normal Lego bits in two big boxes so I don’t think we lost them, but we just mixed them together. So, after that, the board that the Egyptian thing was from just got used generally but not making up the Sphinx, if that makes sense.

Marc: Did you have any other examples of construction?

Holly: I had Sylvanian family and Playmobil but not really in construction because they were either already constructed, or we had imaginary houses and just had the scenes played out on the dining room carpet. I do remember buying, again from a car boot sale, buying a Meccano kit but it was plastic Meccano and I don’t think all the bits were there or it was very hard to actually make anything practical out of this kit thing, so not really.

Marc: So, out of that, I suppose you’d say the Lego was …

Holly: Yeah, Lego was my main construction toy I think.

26.00 – Marc: And was it important to you to be able to do this?

Holly: Yeah, I quite liked building them up and playing out the stories with the little Lego people as well.

Marc: Yes, because they do people as well, don’t they?

Holly: Yeah, we cos we’d got like a number of sets in the end, we had quite a few different little people so …

Marc: Do you have a best memory of your time with your Lego?

Holly: I think one of the memories are making the zoo and telling my older friend off for not putting the right colours in the right places. The other one I think is lying on the dining room floor with, I had the sheets of the base of the Lego, and they had a road on them, and then I’d laid out the road and I’d laid out some other boards and made a little house so yes, making a mess on the dining room floor so people could step on it I think was probably the best …

Marc: So what out of all the things, can you pinpoint do you think, I’m not going to guess the answer, I’ll leave it to you. What, out of all that you’ve talked to us about today, what was your favourite toy?

Holly: Ooh, I don’t know. I think it’s different at different ages. Because when I was younger, like probably six or under, it would have been the bears or the dolls, as in Katie and the blue haired doll. And then, when I got a bit older it would have been the Barbies and then the Lego I think. So all but at different stages ‘cos when I was a bit older, I was playing older games or Lego was more technical so it wasn’t as babyish.

Marc: You were growing up

Holly: Yeah, so

Marc: As we’re coming to the close, did you ever want a) a teddy bear, a doll or a construction toy that you could never have, bearing in mind that of course your dad said “oh no, not more Lego”. Was there anything out of those three items that you could never actually get?

28.28 – Holly: I remember seeing adverts for things that I wanted but I couldn’t name you any now. So I don’t think there was any toy that I specifically wanted and was like “I really want the doll” or “I really want that toy” or whatever but never got. So no, not really.

Marc: Have you any memories of these things that you’d like to talk about that we haven’t covered?

Holly: No, I think I told you just about everything.

Marc: Well thank you very much Holly for participating.

Holly: Thank you.

RECORDING ENDS 29.10

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16th September 2014
Location: Brighton Toy and Model Museum
Interviewer: Marc Sinclair
Videographer: Sean Kelly

Marc: Right, so Holly, can you tell me where you were born?

Holly: Yeah, I was born in Crawley in 1989.

Marc: And did you spend your childhood in Crawley?

Holly: Yeah, up until the age of 7, when we moved to Brighton, we lived in Crawley.

Marc: And where in Brighton are you now?

Holly: Saltdean

Marc: Right, now let’s go way back when you were a little one. Did you have a teddy bear?

0.31 – Holly: Yeah, I did have teddy bears. I had a few actually. I had one called Benny and I don’t remember where he was from. He was just there. He was quite tall. I think he was about that tall. He was kind of a pale beige colour with fake leather paws and ears that I stroked off because they’d got a scratch on. So now he’s got just the backing of the leather material on his ears and his paws.

Marc: So how old .. His name’s Benny? So how old’s Benny?

Holly: I don’t know. I think I got him near when I was born or around my birth. I think he was a bear that got brought for the baby either before I was born or soon after.

Marc: So he wasn’t a hand me down?

Holly: No, he wasn’t a hand me down.

Marc: Do you know where it was manufactured or Benjy was?

Holly: I think he’s got a label on saying ‘made in England’.

Marc: So he may have been bought before you were born or just after you were born so dare I ask a lady her age?

Holly: I’m 25. So he’s about 25 years old I think.

Marc: So you’ve just told me Benjy’s how old?

Holly: 25 I think.

Marc: How did you play with him?

Holly: I don’t remember how I played with him. I think I just carried him about at some points. I did go through periods of different toys though but yeah I don’t really remember playing with him. He’s just always been there. It was in my bed a lot for night times and he still is actually [laughing] but I don’t remember playing with him on specific occasions.

02:35 – Marc: So would you look on him more as a companion than …?

Holly: Yeah. A bit like Rupert to Stewie in ‘Family Guy’ I think. He was more of a friend than a toy.

Marc: A constant companion.

Holly: Yeah.

Marc: How did you feel about him? Or feel? Hang on a minute let me just rephrase that. How do you feel about him?

Holly: Just as a constant reminder of childhood. I don’t remember feeling anything especially positive or negative towards him as a child but the fact that I’ve still got him must have made it positive for me. So yeah.

Marc: Basically he’s celebrating his silver jubilee!

Holly: He is. I must remind him when I go home tonight.

Marc: Or celebrating your silver jubilee. As you’ve had him for 25 years, he must be very important to you?

Holly: Yeah, I think so. He was one of the main toys or bears when I was young I think.

Marc: Do you have a ‘best’ memory of him?

Holly: No, not really. The only one I really remember of him is sitting in the garden on a bench, holding him and cuddling him. I remember my dad going “what’s happened to his ears?” ‘cos this was soon after the lack of fake leather on his ear happened and I was just like “oh, it scratched. I didn’t want it on there any more or something.” So ..

Marc: So that’s talked about your teddy bears. Shall we move on to your dollies?

Holly: Yeah, I do have other bears if you would like to hear about them.

Marc: Ooh you’ve got some more bears? It sounds like you have a plethora of bears.

Holly: I do, yes.

Marc: So, before we move on to dollies, how many bears do you have?

Holly: Well, I can think of three key ones that I thought would be interesting to talk about for the project. So we have Benny and we also have Bupa because I had my tonsils out when I was five and ‘cos we were covered under BUPA cover, we got into the hospital and there was a welcome pack from BUPA, for all the children that they treated. And in the top of this bag, was a bear. And he went into the operation with me, I think. I don’t think he left my side for a while afterwards.

Marc: Oh that’s a lovely story, isn’t it? So it’s 20 odd years ago you had that.

Holly: Yeah,

Marc: And you’ve still got it?

Holly: I’ve still got him. He doesn’t live in the bed though; he lives in the toy box on the top of the stairs.

Marc: And you’ve got a third one?

05:30 – Holly: And my third one is – I think I was a bit older when I got my third one. She was called Paria and I got her one Christmas and I’ve got a little sister and we always had to have the same thing but different colours or something. So I got a purple doodle bear , they were called and you could draw on them with felt tip pens and then put them in the washing machine and it washed off. And my sister got a pink one. And I think they’re in the toy box as well, with Bupa.

Marc: Oh but of course the star of the show is …

Holly: Obviously Benny

Marc: And he sleeps in your same bed, after all these years.

Holly: Yeah, he kind of sits in the corner, beside the pillows.

Marc: I’ve got several myself. I won’t tell you where they are, they’re right behind my bed, looking down on me. Right, so that’s a lovely story. Thank you for those. Now let’s move on to the dollies.

Holly: Sorry for demanding that we go back to bears

Marc: No, no, no, you carry on. If you think of something, just, please do that, that’s not a problem. Right so let’s move on to the dollies.

Holly: Yeah

06:31 – Marc: Did you or do you still play with any dolls?

Holly: Yeah, I did have quite a few dolls. I remember one of my first dolls. She was called Katie and she had kind of dreadlocked hair that stands up on end,’ cos I used to play with it under my nose. She was a bit weird actually, Katie. She had plastic arms and legs and a plastic head but then a soft body. Yeah, I think she was one of those early ‘90’s dolls. I think there must have been a few. I remember having a few like that.

Marc: What do you think her body stuffing was?

Holly: I think it’s just the toy stuffing that you can buy in the fabric shops now. I remember once we were on holiday in Greece and the fabric connecting her knee to the plastic had ripped where it had rubbed on the inside of the plastic basically from the inside and my Gran sewed her up with one of those travel sewing kits and I demanded having the midnight blue thread because blue was my favourite colour and my Gran was saying “I’ve got beige, it won’t notice” and I’m like “no, I want blue Gran. [laughing]

Marc: Like she’d had her appendix out by the sounds of it.

Holly: Yeah, and then she’s got a line of about 4 or 5 stitches in dark blue, on her knee.

Marc: Oh, bless her. What I don’t understand, if she’s got a fabric body and plastic arms and a plastic head of course, and plastic arms and legs, isn’t the body a bit more flexible?

Holly: Yeah, it’s a bit floppy I think but I don’t really remember too much. I have still got her, but she’s a bit far deep in the loft to get her out but yeah, I think it was just so she was soft in the middle. I’m not really sure why she’s got a soft body and plastic.

08:30 – Marc: How did you come to own this rather strange dolly?

Holly: Again, she was just there. Must have been brought for a Christmas or a birthday. I don’t really remember. I do know that we stopped going to Greece on big, family holidays when I was about three or four and I remember having her on a family holiday with my grandparents so I must have had her from quite a young age.

I know that I was a bridesmaid for my aunt when I was about six, I think. Me and my sister had matching bridesmaid dresses and my Gran had made them and she had a bit of material left and she actually made a doll’s dress for me and my sister so we’d each have a doll to take with us to the wedding ‘cos we were quite small and quite scared and stuff and it was Katy that went. I’ve got a picture somewhere of me in this bridesmaid dress with a doll under my arm in a matching dress.

09:30 – Marc: And she went all the way to Greece as well? Did she go on honeymoon?

Holly: No, I don’t think she …

Marc: That’s a lovely story but she’s not in the toy box at the top of the stairs?

Holly: No, my granddad was a very clever man and he used to do carpentry as a hobby and he made me and my sister several toys and two things that he made were dolls’ rocking baskets like cribs and a doll’s bunk bed for Christmas for different years and I think she’s sitting in one of those in our loft. ‘Cos we’ve still got all the bunk beds and the cribs and I think she got put in one of them when we put her away when I was a bit older.

Marc: Obviously she wasn’t your only dolly

10:21 – Holly: No, I remember another doll and I think she had a soft body as well but she was one of my favourites because she had blue hair. She had blue, curly hair and I remember going, my dad took me driving somewhere. I don’t remember where we went but it was a big, red structure, a bit like Meccano but huge and I was in the car and quite little and I used to get quite badly travel sick and I was actually ill on the doll, with the blue hair, my favourite, blue haired doll.

And we got home and I remember telling my mum “oh, Dad took me this really scary place and it was really far away and it was big and red” and my mum heard the story and she put the doll in the washing machine to try and clean her up because I didn’t want to lose this doll and the doll must have had a rip in her stuffing somewhere ‘cos all the stuffing came out in the washing machine so we couldn’t actually save her. I was quite upset and I was like “can’t we re-stuff her?” And my mum was like “no, we can’t do that.” So she got thrown out, as a casualty of travel sickness.

Marc: Putting her in the bath would have been better. Oh what a shame. So this dolly, the blue haired one was as important to you as Katy?

Holly: Yeah, I think at the time, they were of similar importance but I don’t remember if I had them at the same time but I think I do know I had her because I’ve seen a photo recently of me sitting on a sofa or something and there’s this doll with blue hair on the side.

Marc: So we know that Katy’s in the loft, the other one’s in the bin because all her stuffing fell out

Holly: Yeah [laughing]

12:20 – Marc: Do you have any other dollies?

Holly: Me and my sister were both big fans of Barbies and we’ve still got a large collection of Barbies of different varieties. I had a bowling Barbie where you could pull her hand back and she let the ball go; we had a teacher Barbie. I think I had a car at one point as well. So yeah, we’ve got a lot of Barbies in a big, wicker basket.

Marc: Did she have her friend with her, all these Barbies?

Holly: Well yeah, we had a couple of Kens and we also had … my sister was a bit of tomboy and she had a lot of Action Men. And so the Action Men often played with the Barbies.

Marc: I see. I’m just trying to envisage that [laughter]. So can you remember, between you and your sister, how many Barbies did you have?

Holly: I would say, including one that weren’t Barbie but were similar sorts of dolls, probably upwards of 20. We had a lot of different Barbies and a lot of kind of variations on Barbie like teacher Barbie or swimming Barbie. I remember getting a cheerleader Barbie when we went to America and we each had our own cheerleader Barbie, again in different coloured uniforms, ‘cos we each had our favourite colours. I don’t remember any of the others at the moment. But yeah, we’ve got a lot of Barbies.

Marc: But you weren’t too keen on the Action Men. Was there any other male dolls for instance that you were interested in?

Holly: Um, we had a few Kens but again, I think they were my sisters. We did share a bit although at some times we had certain dolls that were ours. I remember being quite particular over some of my Barbies. There was one with blue dungarees that I was quite fond of, a bit older than little. I think I must have been about 10 or 12 and she was my favourite one, probably because I had blue dungarees as well. Apart from that, we did have some other dolls. We were talking earlier about Captain Scarlet. We had some little tiny ones that were probably about that big and we had a SPV 4 and one of the Destiny’s Angel’s planes and they would go inside the planes and you could drive them around or the SPV4 and stuff so

Marc: So that’s from the original Gerry Anderson?

Holly: Yeah, I think so. The same granddad that made the bunk bed found them in a box at the recycling centre near our house. And he picked them out, thinking “oh, these don’t look too bad, why have they been thrown away?” And they got given to us because we were the nearest grandchildren and suitable age grandchildren that he had at the time as well. We’ve still got them somewhere in the loft as well.

15:21 Marc: Did you see the original television series?

Holly: Yeah, my dad was quite a big fan of that and Stingray and Thunderbirds so that seeped through a bit. We had videos with it on and stuff so …

Marc: ‘cos they remade the Captain Scarlet

Holly: I haven’t seen the remake. Oh no, I have, it’s animated, isn’t it? It’s weird isn’t it? Yeah, I don’t like it. One of the best games watching things like Captain Scarlet, Thunderbirds was ‘spot the strings’, where everyone would watch it and go “I can see a string!” [laughing] Sorry that’s a bit off topic.

Marc: No, no, no, that’s fine. I mean I probably did that because they were all, when I was a kid, they were all programmes I was watching. That just shows how old I am. So we’ve talked about some action figures there and you were a bit proprietorial about your Barbie dolls because you wouldn’t let little sister swap.

Holly: Yeah, my sister used to colour the faces in and different tattoos and stuff so I feel I was justified.

Marc: I can understand.

Holly: We have got doll somewhere with coloured in faces or tattoos on and stuff so.

Marc: What did she colour them in with?

Holly: Felt tip pens. She’s going to kill me for saying this.

Marc: Is she a make-up artist?

Holly: No

Marc: Right a lot of these dollies obviously, I mean what with your Granddad making these beautiful things for your dolls (yeah, yeah) Now consigned to the attic, they must mean a lot to you, to still have them.

Holly: Yeah, we did have a clear out a couple of years ago, just to make some space and to make some space for some new stuff that was going in but there was certain things, like Katie was safe, she’s … But there was other things that we did get rid of; like we had a big collection of Sylvanian family and Polly Pockets and they all went and I’m currently uming and ahing about doing it again. I don’t think you can quite get rid of all your childhood toys in one fell swoop; it’s just a bit too traumatic.

Marc: Did you feel quite sad when you had to get rid of …?

Holly: Yeah, definitely and I’m 25 now. I still don’t want to get rid of my Barbies, or my teddy bears. I think it’s partly because you do give them lives and you do give them emotions and you feel like you’re losing them all. Even if you give them to a charity shop or another child, then you feel like you’re abandoning them.

Equally, I don’t know if this is gender specific but I kind of want to pass some toys on to my kids or my nieces, nephews, god children. So, some toys are kind of safe from … no I want to give that to

Sean: The memory card’s full

Marc: Just hold it there for a bit

Marc: Sorry about that.

Holly: That’s no problem.

Marc: Just can we go back to what you were saying about the passing on?

18:33 – Holly: The passing on toys … I think there is an idea and I don’t know if it’s gender specific because I haven’t spoken to any males about this, but there is a thing that I would like to pass toys on to my children, or my nieces and nephews or god children or … my friends’ children. So, there is a thing of “oh, I don’t want to throw out that toy, I want them to be …” and I think my mum feels it too because she has banned us from throwing out anything that her dad made and has said before “I want the lot to be a secret attic full of toys for when my grandchildren come over.”

So, there is that idea and I think what we threw out was considered less important to us than what we were keeping. But that was about ten years ago so I do think that now more time has passed, we should probably throw out some more that were important originally but not as some of the other toys.

Marc: You’re a lucky girl and your sister to have had such a talented granddad to have made all these things.

Holly: Yeah, he made quite a few things. I was quite into playing house so I have a wooden cooker with a microwave attached. I remember getting that one Christmas and someone else brought me a load of plastic plates and knives and forks and stuff. And one of them was a jelly mould and I made a jelly one night. I put it in the oven of the cooker and then I think my mum took it out and put it in the fridge and then put it back in before I got up the next morning.

I was so delighted when there was a made jelly in my oven the next morning. I cut it up and made everyone have a piece [laughing]

Marc: That’s a wonderful story. Clever mum.

Holly: Yes, clever mum.

Marc: Let’s just move on a bit more. What other memories, as you’ve got all these, you were playing house, you’ve got Ken and Barbie (yeah) and there’s loads of them and your sister is being, you know with your Action Men and your Captain Scarlets and all that. Did you ever put all of these dolls into one sort of scenario type thing? You know, if you were to play with them, would they interact with each other, the toys?

Holly: Yeah, not so much across toy genders, it that makes sense. I think we very rarely mixed the bears with the dolls or the Playmobil with the Lego, sort of thing but the action men and the Barbies definitely hang out together. And I remember playing massive Barbie games of having a massive family, ‘cos I wanted all the little dolls to be involved and they were all related somehow and they were all brothers and sisters or cousins and friends and my mum used to get quite annoyed though, ‘cos I used to play the same game every time and she would be like “can’t we play a different game?” and I was like “no, this one’s called Holly and she’s friends with this one and then he’s called Dave or” I don’t remember all their names but I had certain games that I would play with certain of the toys.

21:38 – Marc: That’s lovely. Thank you very much. Right, shall we move on to, it’s to me … you know what I mean by construction toys like Lego and Meccano? (yeah) But it seems to me, that you had construction toys that were constructed for you by Granddad.

Holly: Yes, but they were already made up.

Marc: Yes, but what a lovely thing to have. I can see where your mother’s coming from. “Don’t you dare get rid of those, because they’re unique.”

22:10 – Holly: Yeah, he made us a toy box with our names on the front and everything and my other grandparents saw it and they were like “oh, we could do with one of them for our house. So he had to make a second one to take round to my other grandparents which we’ve now got both because my other grandparents have now died, or first they cleared out their house and stuff so that got given to us when they moved from their house.

Marc: So with all these dollies, all these teddies, that weren’t interacting, did you ever play with construction toys?

Holly: Yes, I was a big fan of Lego. I remember buying a massive plastic box of Lego at a car boot sale for about £5 or £10 and we walked three or four stalls down and there was more Lego and Dad’s like: “don’t let her buy any more Lego, I’m going to put this stuff in the car.” And he walked off with my box of Lego and came back and was like “you bought any more?” But before that, I had the Duplo which was basically the baby version of Lego, or the small child version and they were a bit bigger, they were probably about that big or something so children couldn’t eat them basically, or swallow them.

23:26 – Marc: Good idea. And this Lego was plastic?

Holly: Yes, it was plastic; it was quite bright coloured. There were four different colours so it was red and blue and yellow and green.

Marc: And what did you like to construct with all of this?

Holly: Well, we kind of had, I think we must have had two sets of Duplo that had got mixed ‘cos we had zoo animals and we had a house, bits that you can make up a house with so I’d either play happy families with the house or I’d play making the zoo. Then people could go round and you had the keepers and they fed the zoo animals and stuff like that.

Marc: Bit like a stately home

Holly Yeah

Marc: So you came to own your Lego from car boot sales

Holly: Yeah, I did get some for Christmas and stuff. I got certain sets and packs of … I had the Egyptian archaeology set, where you built up the sphinx and then could excavate it and find the mummy underneath or something.

Marc: It’s all changed a bit from my day. It was just building blocks, we just made strange items with it but so do you still have all this in the loft?

Holly: I don’t have the Duplo because that got given to my cousins, who already had some so they had a mass of Duplo afterwards. I don’t know if they’ve still got it. I’m betting that they’ve given it to their cousins or someone else. We do still have the Lego, like two boxes of Lego, in the loft.

Marc: And I daren’t ask. Do you still play with it?

Holly: No, not in recent years. It is quite far at the back. It’s not really reachable at the moment. I do remember playing with it when I was quite little and playing with the Duplo and my mum’s godsons were over and they’re about ten years older than me but they were fairly happy to crawl about on the floor and play with us and stuff.

25.33 – And I remember one day, I was playing with the younger brother, because these two godsons were brothers and we were making a zoo and each animal enclosure had to be made from the same coloured bricks and that was quite important. ‘Cause his brother came over and put the wrong colour brick, put the red brick on the blue side or something and I went “NO!” and snatched it off and the brother that I was originally playing with was like “we’re making them all the same colour” and so it was a bit of a …

Marc: A bit of a fight going on.

Holly: Yeah.

Marc: But it was nice to be able to play with some older kids, you know and interact with them with building all these marvellous zoos and sphinxes and all that. What happened if you … did you lose any of the bits? And if so how?

Holly: Um, not really I don’t think. I don’t remember losing special bits. I do know that the Lego, the big person’s Lego, all got mixed in together. So being able to make up the sphinx again, or the Egyptian landscape again was quite hard, ‘cos the Egyptian Lego bits are mixed in with the normal Lego bits in two big boxes so I don’t think we lost them, but we just mixed them together. So, after that, the board that the Egyptian thing was from just got used generally but not making up the Sphinx, if that makes sense.

Marc: Did you have any other examples of construction?

Holly: I had Sylvanian family and Playmobil but not really in construction because they were already constructed, or we had imaginary houses and just had the scenes played out on the dining room carpet. I do remember buying, again from a car boot sale, buying a Meccano kit but it was plastic Meccano and I don’t think all the bits were there or it was very hard to actually make anything practical out of this kit thing, so not really.

Marc: So, out of that, I suppose you’d say the Lego was …

Holly: Yeah, Lego was my main construction toy I think.

28:09 – Marc: And was it important to you to be able to do this?

Holly: Yeah, I quite liked building them up and playing out the stories with the little Lego people as well.

Marc: Yes, because they do people as well, don’t they?

Holly: Yeah, we cos we’d got like a number of sets in the end, we had quite a few different little people so …

Marc: Do you have a best memory of your time with your Lego?

Holly: I think one of the memories are making the zoo and telling my older friend off for not putting the right colours in the right places. The other one I think is lying on the dining room floor with, I had the sheets of the base of the Lego, and they had a road on them, and then I’d laid out the road and I’d laid out some other boards and made a little house so yes, making a mess on the dining room floor so people could step on it I think was probably the best …

Marc: So what out of all the things, can you pinpoint do you think, I’m not going to guess the answer, I’ll leave it to you. What, out of all that you’ve talked to us about today, what was your toy?

Holly: Ooh, I don’t know. I think it’s different at different ages. Because when I was younger, like probably six or under, it would have been the bears or the dolls, as in Katie and the blue haired doll. And then, when I got a bit older it would have been the Barbies and then the Lego I think. So all but at different stages ‘cos when I was a bit older, I was playing older games or Lego was more technical so it wasn’t as babyish.

Marc: You were growing up

Holly: Yeah, so

Marc: As we’re coming to the close, did you ever want a) a teddy bear, a doll or a construction toy that you could never have, bearing in mind that of course your dad said “oh no, not more Lego”. Was there anything out of those three items that you could never actually get?

30:29 – Holly: I remember seeing adverts for things that I wanted but I couldn’t name you any now. So I don’t think there was any toy that I specifically wanted and was like “I really want the doll” or “I really want that toy” or whatever but never got. So no, not really.

Marc: Have you any memories of these things that you’d like to talk about that we haven’t covered?

Holly: No, I think I told you just about everything.

Marc: Well thank you very much Holly for participating.

Holly: Thank you.

31:10 Interview ends.

Holly

Holly was born in Crawley in 1989 and moved to Brighton at the age of seven. In the short version (3m 41s) of her interview she talks about Lego. In the full version (29m 10s) she also discusses a range of other toys including teddy bears, dolls (including Barbie), Captain Scarlet and the toys that her Grandfather made.  She also reflects on wanting to keep her toys in order to pass them on.