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18th November 2014
Location: Brighton Toy and Model Museum
Interviewer/Videographer: Andrea Dumbrell

00.04 Yaa: this is where I could just get very, very boring because I could tell you an awful lot about my dolls. I could tell you all of their names actually. I think I can still remember all of their names. I was sort of slightly compulsive obsessive I think because they were boy girl, boy girl, boy girl, boy girl.

So Klaus was the oldest and their ages always stayed the same. I think he was always ten. And then Petra, who was a very pretty sort of German doll. She was sort of the most classy, the most expensive. Then there was Alex, who was a baby boy doll who didn’t have any hair, whereas Petra had some really nice hair that sprouted out of her head in tufts. And then after Alex, there was Katya, who was a boy doll but one Christmas … well have I missed out any? I’ve missed out Annetta. Annetta was a very elegant doll with red nails, yes, so she was very classy. And she was actually responsible for a marriage. Apparently I’d left her somewhere, I think I’d left her in Germany one year and my mum’s friend decided that I couldn’t live without this doll, and brought the doll back to England on a boat and on that boat she met her future husband.

So I gave my mum’s friend this doll, when I was older and then there was Katya, who was actually a boy, although he had a girl’s name and one year, he sat too close to the open fire at Christmas, so his hair got all sort of frizzled, which was quite sad but these things happen. And then there was Katya and then there was Ushi, and Ushi’s arms and legs were very loose. (Are you getting bored yet? No, ok.) They never actually fell off, but I think they were tied with elastic inside so they always were in danger of falling off but they never did. And I think Ushi was one of my favourites really.

And then there was Christa, who was also a boy with a girl’s name. And the last one was Heidi, and Heidi was a little plastic doll made in one mould, with moulded hair, I don’t think you can get dolls like that nowadays. And I had her when I was very small and she had scribbles all over her back, which never came off and her limbs were stuck in one position. They didn’t move at all.

02.54 – Andrea: I’m trying to visualise these dolls. Are we talking baby dolls or are we talking grown up children?

Yaa: Well, Alex was a baby doll, yes, although he was the third eldest in my family of dolls.

Andrea: And the others?

Yaa: No, they weren’t really baby dolls but they were dolls that you couldn’t buy now. They’re definitely dated. Definitely, yeah. And I think I’ve got Heidi, I don’t think I’ve got any of the others.

Andrea: So how did you come to own them? Were they presents or …?

Yaa: They all must have been presents. I suppose in those days, girls were given dolls, yeah. And I educated them. Most of the time they were my class and I taught them things. Or I lined them up in front of the TV and we used to watch TV. I was an only child so it was a bit sad because I suppose they were the people that I spoke to, yeah.

Andrea: And you said you still have Heidi?

Yaa: I still have Heidi, yeah. She was very special. Heidi’s got one brown eye and one blue eye and in fact my children think she’s absolutely terrifying, whereas I don’t see her like that.

ENDS 4m 17s

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18th November 2014
Location: Brighton Toy and Model Museum
Interviewer/Videographer: Andrea Dumbrell

00.06 – Andrea: So I’d like to start by asking you when you were born, the date, so that can be the year or the decade, whichever you prefer and where you were born?

Yaa: Sure. Ok. My name is Yaa. My place of birth is Balham, London and I was born in 1958.

Andrea: Ok and is Balham where you spent your childhood?

Yaa: No. I was brought up in an international children’s village called Pestalozzi Children’s Village, near Battle and I was there from the age of two until the age of eighteen.

Andrea: Ok and during your childhood (and we’re defining childhood as up to about ten) did you have a teddy bear?

Yaa: I did, yes.

00.52 – Andrea: And can you tell me about it?

Yaa: Yes, yes. I got a teddy bear in 1961, when I was three years old. I remember it very well. And I got the teddy bear because I had to go to hospital when I was three. I had something called acidosis and I had to spend … I’m not sure how long … it was probably about a week in hospital and my mum bought me the teddy bear while I was in hospital. But funnily enough, unlike most children who really love their teddy bears, I always had, with this teddy bear, the association of not being with my mum. So I never bonded at all. I never really liked my teddy bear. Even though I felt that I should like it, I never liked it.

Andrea: And can you describe it for me, what it looked like, what it was made out of?

Yaa: There’s a teddy bear sitting on your desk that looks very much like my teddy bear so I could show it to you [laughing]. In fact, I’ve never seen a teddy bear that looked so much like mine as this one. It’s almost … my teddy bear could be its’ younger brother and it’s definitely a male. It just had a male look. Also, I remember now, it grunted. I don’t know if this one does. But it grunted when you turned it.

It had a very scratchy nose. I don’t know if the nose was always scratchy but as far as I remember, the nose was very scratchy. It became threadbare because it probably was thrown around quite a bit in its history and it had the same eyes. The cut was exactly the same and it sort of dates me, I suppose.

Because my daughter had … I bought my daughter a teddy bear, my middle daughter, when she was, I think she was about one and that had a very different look to it. That teddy bear I just showed you is definitely a 1950’s or 1940’s teddy bear.

Yeah, and it had a name too, Klaus, yeah I think my mum named it and my mum was German so all my dolls and my teddy bear had German names.

Andrea: So did you play with your bear?

Yaa: I can’t really think of my teddy bear outside of the context of my dolls because I did play with them all together, yeah and I was more fond of some of them than I was of others and as I said, my teddy bear wasn’t the one that I was fondest of but it was the biggest of all of them so it was the oldest in my imaginary games. They all had different ages.

03.54 – Andrea: So if I asked you how you felt about him or how important he was, is your answer going to be:`not very’?

Yaa: Well, I’ve still got him so I suppose that does say something. He’s up in the attic in a box. His mouth is sewn, yeah and it’s come undone so at some point, I might get it sewn up but at the moment he hasn’t really got much of an expression.

Andrea: So if I asked you what your best memories are of him, do you have any best memories?

Yaa: No, I have no best memories of him at all, no.

04:34 – Andrea: So you’ve already mentioned dolls, that you played with dolls,(Yaa:
yes) so tell me about your dolls?

Yaa: Ok, oh gosh. I mean this is where I could just get very, very boring because I could tell you an awful lot about my dolls. I could tell you all of their names actually. I think I can still remember all of their names. I was sort of slightly compulsive obsessive I think because they were boy girl, boy girl, boy girl, boy girl.

So Klaus was the oldest and their ages always stayed the same. I think he was always ten. And then Petra, who was a very pretty sort of German doll. She was sort of the most classy, the most expensive. Then there was Alex, who was a baby boy doll who didn’t have any hair, whereas Petra had some really nice hair that sprouted out of her head in tufts. And then after Alex, there was Katya, who was a boy doll but one Christmas … well have I missed out any? I’ve missed out Annetta. Annetta was a very elegant doll with red nails, yes, so she was very classy. And she was actually responsible for a marriage. Apparently I’d left her somewhere, I think I’d left her in Germany one year and my mum’s friend decided that I couldn’t live without this doll, and brought the doll back to England on a boat and on that boat she met her future husband.

So I gave my mum’s friend this doll, when I was older and then there was Katya, who was actually a boy, although he had a girl’s name and one year, he sat too close to the open fire at Christmas, so his hair got all sort of frizzled, which was quite sad but these things happen. And then there was Katya and then there was Ushi, and Ushi’s arms and legs were very loose. (Are you getting bored yet? No, ok.) They never actually fell off, but I think they were tied with elastic inside so they always were in danger of falling off but they never did. And I think Ushi was one of my favourites really.

And then there was Christa, who was also a boy with a girl’s name. And the last one was Heidi, and Heidi was a little plastic doll made in one mould, with moulded hair, I don’t think you can get dolls like that nowadays. And I had her when I was very small and she had scribbles all over her back, which never came off and her limbs were stuck in one position. They didn’t move at all.

07:32 – Andrea: I’m trying to visualise these dolls. Are we talking baby dolls or are we talking grown up children?

Yaa: Well, Alex was a baby doll, yes, although he was the third eldest in my family of dolls.

Andrea: And the others?

Yaa: No, they weren’t really baby dolls but they were dolls that you couldn’t buy now. They’re definitely dated. Definitely, yeah. And I think I’ve got Heidi, I don’t think I’ve got any of the others.

Andrea: So how did you come to own them? Were they presents or …?

Yaa: They all must have been presents. I suppose in those days, girls were given dolls, yeah. And I educated them. Most of the time they were my class and I taught them things. Or I lined them up in front of the TV and we used to watch TV. I was an only child so it was a bit sad because I suppose they were the people that I spoke to, yeah.

Andrea: And you said you still have Heidi?

Yaa: I still have Heidi, yeah. She was very special. Heidi’s got one brown eye and one blue eye and in fact my children think she’s absolutely terrifying, whereas I don’t see her like that.

09:02 – Andrea: So you spoke about how they kept you company as an only child. Does that mean they were quite important to you?

Yaa: Oh yes, very. Very much so, yeah.

Andrea: And what happened to the ones that you haven’t got any more?

Yaa: Gosh, that’s a terrible question. Someone’s going to call the social services! [laughing] Well Annetta, as you know, went to my mum’s friend, as a gift. I don’t know what happened to the others, they just sort of went into the land where dolls that aren’t wanted any more go. Yeah.

Andrea: And what are your best memories of dolls?

Yaa: I used to lie under the table, to watch the TV. We had a very low table and my best memories are … somebody made me a bench, in this children’s village, the boys used to do carpentry and one of them made me this … it was a lovely bench with a back to it that would fit my dolls. So I used to sit my dolls either on the bench or leaning against the bench and I just used to lie under the table watching TV with all the dolls sort of sitting next to me also watching TV.

10:11 – Andrea: Nice. So did you have any action figures?

Yaa: No, I didn’t. I coveted a Barbie. I always wanted a Barbie but I just got given cheap Barbies; which were really quite disgusting – very prominent breasts, very small waists. So I had a few of them but never had the same connection to them as I did to my dolls.

Andrea: How did you play with them, out of interest? Can you remember?

Yaa: [laughing] Probably in a rude way with my friends as well.

Andrea: Ok, I won’t ask you to expand on that unless you really want to. I’ll let you have a think about construction toys. Did you play with any construction toys?

11.11 – Yaa: I did, yes. My grandmother, I think she was probably the person who gave me most of my dolls as well. I think I do remember the connotation that construction toys were educational. I do remember that sort of feel that it was very good to play with construction toys because you were expanding your brain in some way. And she bought me this large box and it was called Plasticant. Yes, I don’t know if it still exists and I can just remember the feel of them. They were mainly blue, I don’t know how to describe them, they were either, they had three prongs or they had four or five prongs or they were bars and you had little yellow bits that fitted in to join them together. So, for example you might have a blue bar here and a blue bar here and by putting the little yellow bit into the hole, they would join together, like macaroni, like putting something into sticks of macaroni. But then, if you had two prongs, then you could make a square. And you might have three prongs so you could make something three dimensional as well. Am I explaining that? And also you had wheels so some had a little tiny prong coming off them and you could fit a wheel on that and you had a little yellow wheeler prong that fitted the wheel onto it properly. So yeah, it was nice actually. I used to quite enjoy playing with that, yeah.

Andrea: And what did you make out of it?

Yaa: Cars. I think mainly that’s what I remember making. You also had plastic squares, so if you made a square, then the plastic squares fitted into the square to give it a sort of surface. So I think there were some houses that I must … I was trying to remember what I made but it’s really hard to remember; mainly cars I think.

I had lots of Matchbox cars and Corgi cars as well.

Andrea: Just take me back to the construction toys ‘cause I’ve never heard of it. Where did it come from?

Yaa:It was a German … Plasticant, yeah. It would be really interesting to find out whether it still exists.

Andrea: I’ll look it up. Tell me how to spell it.

Yaa: Ok, I will.

Andrea: So, any other construction toys?

Yaa: Lego, yes I used to play with Lego. I used to make houses out of Lego. I always found Lego slightly frustrating, never quite made the things as wonderfully as the potential. I don’t know. It used to get a bit boring sometimes.

My son played with Lego for hours and hours and hours and I think by the time … he was born in ’83 Lego had become much better and much more exciting then. We just really had the little rectangles and I think we had trees as well. I remember we had trees that you could put on to these grey platforms. I was very pleased when my son played with Lego, so that same feeling that it’s educational somehow. But I can’t say I was ever that attached to Lego.

Andrea: Do you still have any of your construction toys?

Yaa: No, they’ve all gone.

Andrea: Best memory of a construction toy? Do you have one?

14.54 – Yaa: No, now what I do remember, this is a bit sociological … I remember that boys used to play with Meccano and somehow it wasn’t right for girls to play with Meccano but I always thought it looked quite interesting. You could make really big cranes and things with Meccano and you could do sort of physics. You could winch things up and things like that but I don’t suppose I was ever interested enough to play with it, or maybe I felt it wasn’t my place to play with it.

Andrea: Well that was going to be one of my questions actually, whether you wanted a doll or a bear or a construction toy that you couldn’t have? So did you actually want Meccano but couldn’t have it?

15:38 – Yaa: No, the only thing that I really … no, there were two toys that I wanted. Are you interested in those because they’re neither dolls nor bears nor construction toys?

Andrea: Tell me anyway

Yaa: A pedal car. I feel, in a way, my childhood has been blighted by not having had a pedal car. I really, really wanted a pedal car. I suppose I didn’t ask strongly enough or maybe they were too expensive.

And the other thing was a hobby horse. I really wanted a hobby horse and again, I never had a hobby horse. I used to sort of play on a broom sometimes and imagine it was a hobby horse but I wanted one with a horse’s head and a mane.

Andrea: And no one made you one?

Yaa: No

Andrea: Did you ask anyone to make you one, that one who made you the chairs?

Yaa: No. I was very lucky to have that lovely chair made and I also … somebody made me a crib for the dolls, a rocking crib, which was beautiful, really lovely.

16:37 – Andrea: So out of interest, thinking of where you grew up and the making a crib and a chair, did you ask them to make you things or were they just …?

Yaa: No, they were just gifts. I mean I was lucky because most of the children were about ten years older than me so I was like the young child and I lived with my mum whereas they all lived without their parents so I suppose I was a bit of surrogate sister to them, and they used to be generous to me and be kind to me, so that was nice.

Andrea: So we’ve covered quite a few things but is there anything you can think of about dolls, bears, construction toys that you haven’t mentioned?

17:26 – Yaa: I think one of the things was that when I grew up – oh I had a pram- which was lovely, with a red hood to it and that was great, because you could take your dolls and push them outside so that gave them a whole new lease of life.

But it was very much that girls played with dolls and boys didn’t play with dolls and I think probably dolls were the one toy that was really gendered. You know, I wanted a pedal car, I didn’t get one, maybe I would have done, had I been a boy. But boys just did not play with dolls.

Whereas when I had children, I was able to give my boys dolls and you know, they enjoyed playing with dolls, although they still did prefer the trains and the cars.

I think that’s it, that’s the only … I think I’ve told you everything else.

INTERVIEW ENDS 18m 23s

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18th November 2014
Location: Brighton Toy and Model Museum
Interviewer/Videographer: Andrea Dumbrell

Andrea: So I’d like to start by asking you when you were born, the date, so that can be the year or the decade, whichever you prefer and where you were born?

Yaa: Sure. Ok. My name is Yaa. My place of birth is Balham, London and I was born in 1958.

Andrea: Ok and is Balham where you spent your childhood?

Yaa: No. I was brought up in an international children’s village called Pestalozzi Children’s Village, near Battle and I was there from the age of two until the age of eighteen.

Andrea: Ok and during your childhood (and we’re defining childhood as up to about ten) did you have a teddy bear?

Yaa: I did, yes.

00:46 – Andrea: And can you tell me about it?

Yaa: Yes, yes. I got a teddy bear in 1961, when I was three years old. I remember it very well. And I got the teddy bear because I had to go to hospital when I was three. I had something called acidosis and I had to spend … I’m not sure how long … it was probably about a week in hospital and my mum bought me the teddy bear while I was in hospital. But funnily enough, unlike most children who really love their teddy bears, I always had, with this teddy bear, the association of not being with my mum. So I never bonded at all. I never really liked my teddy bear. Even though I felt that I should like it, I never liked it.

01:39 – Andrea: And can you describe it for me, what it looked like, what it was made out of?

Yaa: There’s a teddy bear sitting on your desk that looks very much like my teddy bear so I could show it to you [laughing]. In fact, I’ve never seen a teddy bear that looked so much like mine as this one. It’s almost … my teddy bear could be its’ younger brother and it’s definitely a male. It just had a male look. Also, I remember now, it grunted. I don’t know if this one does. But it grunted when you turned it.

It had a very scratchy nose. I don’t know if the nose was always scratchy but as far as I remember, the nose was very scratchy. It became threadbare because it probably was thrown around quite a bit in its history and it had the same eyes. The cut was exactly the same and it sort of dates me, I suppose.

Because my daughter had … I bought my daughter a teddy bear, my middle daughter, when she was, I think she was about one and that had a very different look to it. That teddy bear I just showed you is definitely a 1950’s or 1940’s teddy bear.

Yeah, and it had a name too, Klaus, yeah I think my mum named it and my mum was German so all my dolls and my teddy bear had German names.

Andrea: So did you play with your bear?

Yaa: I can’t really think of my teddy bear outside of the context of my dolls because I did play with them all together, yeah and I was more fond of some of them than I was of others and as I said, my teddy bear wasn’t the one that I was fondest of but it was the biggest of all of them so it was the oldest in my imaginary games. They all had different ages.

03:50 – Andrea: So if I asked you how you felt about him or how important he was, is your answer going to be:`not very’?

Yaa: Well, I’ve still got him so I suppose that does say something. He’s up in the attic in a box. His mouth is sewn, yeah and it’s come undone so at some point, I might get it sewn up but at the moment he hasn’t really got much of an expression.

Andrea: So if I asked you what your best memories are of him, do you have any best memories?

Yaa: No, I have no best memories of him at all, no.

04:29 – Andrea: So you’ve already mentioned dolls, that you played with dolls,(Yaa: yes) so tell me about your dolls?

Yaa: Ok, oh gosh. I mean this is where I could just get very, very boring because I could tell you an awful lot about my dolls. I could tell you all of their names actually. I think I can still remember all of their names. I was sort of slightly compulsive obsessive I think because they were boy girl, boy girl, boy girl, boy girl.

So Klaus was the oldest and their ages always stayed the same. I think he was always ten. And then Petra, who was a very pretty sort of German doll. She was sort of the most classy, the most expensive. Then there was Alex, who was a baby boy doll who didn’t have any hair, whereas Petra had some really nice hair that sprouted out of her head in tufts. And then after Alex, there was Katya, who was a boy doll but one Christmas … well have I missed out any? I’ve missed out Annette Annette was a very elegant doll with red nails, yes, so she was very classy. And she was actually responsible for a marriage. Apparently I’d left her somewhere, I think I’d left her in Germany one year and my mum’s friend decided that I couldn’t live without this doll, and brought the doll back to England on a boat and on that boat she met her future husband.

So I gave my mum’s friend this doll, when I was older and then there was Katya, who was actually a boy, although he had a girl’s name and one year, he sat too close to the open fire at Christmas, so his hair got all sort of frizzled, which was quite sad but these things happen. And then there was Katya and then there was Ushi, and Ushi’s arms and legs were very loose. (Are you getting bored yet? No, ok.) They never actually fell off, but I think they were tied with elastic inside so they always were in danger of falling off but they never did. And I think Ushi was one of my favourites really.

And then there was Christa, who was also a boy with a girl’s name. And the last one was Heidi, and Heidi was a little plastic doll made in one mould, with moulded hair, I don’t think you can get dolls like that nowadays. And I had her when I was very small and she had scribbles all over her back, which never came off and her limbs were stuck in one position. They didn’t move at all.

Andrea: I’m trying to visualise these dolls. Are we talking baby dolls or are we talking grown up children?

Yaa: Well, Alex was a baby doll, yes, although he was the third eldest in my family of dolls.

Andrea: And the others?

Yaa: No, they weren’t really baby dolls but they were dolls that you couldn’t buy now. They’re definitely dated. Definitely, yeah. And I think I’ve got Heidi, I don’t think I’ve got any of the others.

07.59 – Andrea: So how did you come to own them? Were they presents or …?

Yaa: They all must have been presents. I suppose in those days, girls were given dolls, yeah. And I educated them. Most of the time they were my class and I taught them things. Or I lined them up in front of the TV and we used to watch TV. I was an only child so it was a bit sad because I suppose they were the people that I spoke to, yeah.

Andrea: And you said you still have Heidi?

Yaa: I still have Heidi, yeah. She was very special. Heidi’s got one brown eye and one blue eye and in fact my children think she’s absolutely terrifying, whereas I don’t see her like that.

08.57 – Andrea: So you spoke about how they kept you company as an only child. Does that mean they were quite important to you?

Yaa Oh yes, very. Very much so, yeah.

Andrea: And what happened to the ones that you haven’t got any more?

Yaa: Gosh, that’s a terrible question. Someone’s going to call the social services! [laughing] Well Annette, as you know, went to my mum’s friend, as a gift. I don’t know what happened to the others, they just sort of went into the land where dolls that aren’t wanted any more go. Yeah.

09:27 – Andrea: And what are your best memories of dolls?

Yaa: I used to lie under the table, to watch the TV. We had a very low table and my best memories are … somebody made me a bench, in this children’s village, the boys used to do carpentry and one of them made me this … it was a lovely bench with a back to it that would fit my dolls. So I used to sit my dolls either on the bench or leaning against the bench and I just used to lie under the table watching TV with all the dolls sort of sitting next to me also watching TV.

10:09 – Andrea: Nice. So did you have any action figures?

Yaa: No, I didn’t. I coveted a Barbie. I always wanted a Barbie but I just got given cheap Barbies; which were really quite disgusting – very prominent breasts, very small waists. So I had a few of them but never had the same connection to them as I did to my dolls.

Andrea: How did you play with them, out of interest? Can you remember?

Yaa: [laughing] Probably in a rude way with my friends as well.

Andrea: Ok, I won’t ask you to expand on that unless you really want to. I’ll let you have a think about construction toys. Did you play with any construction toys?

11.07 – Yaa: I did, yes. My grandmother, I think she was probably the person who gave me most of my dolls as well. I think I do remember the connotation that construction toys were educational. I do remember that sort of feel that it was very good to play with construction toys because you were expanding your brain in some way. And she bought me this large box and it was called Plasticant. Yes, I don’t know if it still exists and I can just remember the feel of them. They were mainly blue, I don’t know how to describe them, they were either, they had three prongs or they had four or five prongs or they were bars and you had little yellow bits that fitted in to join them together. So, for example you might have a blue bar here and a blue bar here and by putting the little yellow bit into the hole, they would join together, like macaroni, like putting something into sticks of macaroni. But then, if you had two prongs, then you could make a square. And you might have three prongs so you could make something three dimensional as well. Am I explaining that? And also you had wheels so some had a little tiny prong coming off them and you could fit a wheel on that and you had a little yellow wheeler prong that fitted the wheel onto it properly. So yeah, it was nice actually. I used to quite enjoy playing with that, yeah.

Andrea: And what did you make out of it?

Yaa: Cars. I think mainly that’s what I remember making. You also had plastic squares, so if you made a square, then the plastic squares fitted into the square to give it a sort of surface. So I think there were some houses that I must … I was trying to remember what I made but it’s really hard to remember; mainly cars I think.

I had lots of Matchbox cars and Corgi cars as well.

Andrea: Just take me back to the construction toys ‘cause I’ve never heard of it. Where did it come from?

Yaa:It was a German … Plasticant, yeah. It would be really interesting to find out whether it still exists.

Andrea: I’ll look it up. Tell me how to spell it.

Yaa: Ok, I will.

Andrea: So, any other construction toys?

Yaa: Lego, yes I used to play with Lego. I used to make houses out of Lego. I always found Lego slightly frustrating, never quite made the things as wonderfully as the potential. I don’t know. It used to get a bit boring sometimes.

My son played with Lego for hours and hours and hours and I think by the time … he was born in ’83 Lego had become much better and much more exciting then. We just really had the little rectangles and I think we had trees as well. I remember we had trees that you could put on to these grey platforms. I was very pleased when my son played with Lego, so that same feeling that it’s educational somehow. But I can’t say I was ever that attached to Lego.

Andrea: Do you still have any of your construction toys?

Yaa: No, they’ve all gone.

Andrea:Best memory of a construction toy? Do you have one?

14:52 – Yaa: No, now what I do remember, this is a bit sociological … I remember that boys used to play with Meccano and somehow it wasn’t right for girls to play with Meccano but I always thought it looked quite interesting. You could make really big cranes and things with Meccano and you could do sort of physics. You could winch things up and things like that but I don’t suppose I was ever interested enough to play with it, or maybe I felt it wasn’t my place to play with it.

Andrea: Well that was going to be one of my questions actually, whether you wanted a doll or a bear or a construction toy that you couldn’t have? So did you actually want Meccano but couldn’t have it?

15:34 – Yaa: No, the only thing that I really … no, there were two toys that I wanted. Are you interested in those because they’re neither dolls or bears or construction toys?

Andrea: Tell me anyway

Yaa: A pedal car. I feel, in a way, my childhood has been blighted by not having had a pedal car. I really, really wanted a pedal car. I suppose I didn’t ask strongly enough or maybe they were too expensive.

And the other thing was a hobby horse. I really wanted a hobby horse and again, I never had a hobby horse. I used to sort of play on a broom sometimes and imagine it was a hobby horse but I wanted one with a horse’s head and a mane.

Andrea: And no one made you one?

Yaa: No

Andrea: Did you ask anyone to make you one, that one who made you the chairs?

Yaa: No. I was very lucky to have that lovely chair made and I also … somebody made me a crib for the dolls, a rocking crib, which was beautiful, really lovely.

16:33 – Andrea: So out of interest, thinking of where you grew up and the making a crib and a chair, did you ask them to make you things or were they just …?

Yaa: No, they were just gifts. I mean I was lucky because most of the children were about ten years older than me so I was like the young child and I lived with my mum whereas they all lived without their parents so I suppose I was a bit of surrogate sister to them, and they used to be generous to me and be kind to me, so that was nice.

Andrea: So we’ve covered quite a few things but is there anything you can think of about dolls, bears, construction toys that you haven’t mentioned?

17:23 – Yaa: I think one of the things was that when I grew up – oh I had a pram- which was lovely, with a red hood to it and that was great, because you could take your dolls and push them outside so that gave them a whole new lease of life.

But it was very much that girls played with dolls and boys didn’t play with dolls and I think probably dolls were the one toy that was really gendered. You know, I wanted a pedal car, I didn’t get one, maybe I would have done, had I been a boy. But boys just did not play with dolls.

Whereas when I had children, I was able to give my boys dolls and you know, they enjoyed playing with dolls, although they still did prefer the trains and the cars.

I think that’s it, that’s the only … I think I’ve told you everything else.

Andrea: In that case, I’m going to say thank you

Yaa: Great

INTERVIEW ENDS 18m 25s

Yaa

Yaa was born in 1958 in Balham, and was brought up in Pestalozzi Children’s Village in Sedlescombe, where some of the older children gave her a handmade bench and crib for her dolls. Her mother was German. In the short version (4m 17s) of her interview she talks about her dolls. In the full version (18m 23s) she also discusses her teddy bear and construction toys, which included  Plasticant and Lego.