My Little Sister and I are communicating our family news via FaceTime. This involves one or other of us endeavouring to show the other something we think they might find of interest. It’s a bit like Show And Tell
in the Reception Class at Infant School. Albeit without any plasticine.
I have a black and white photograph I have been longing to show my sister. It shows the two of us, with our dear Mum, on holiday.
Mum and I are sitting in deckchairs outside what appears to be our holiday caravan, while Maggie is sitting on the grass between us. Although it is a black and white photograph, I know (as will my sister, I am sure) that we are both wearing identical yellow
dresses, made by our mother, with white Peter Pan collars and black velvet bows which had to be removed every time the dresses were washed. Our Mum and Maggie are smiling at the camera but for some reason I can’t recall, I am looking rather a sour puss,
clutching my knees and scowling at the camera. It isn’t a Good Look. I think that when the photo was taken, I was about eleven years old and my Little Sister was about seven or eight.
What I am not expecting is the immediate reaction from my Little Sis when she sees the photo on her screen. “It’s Susan!” she cries in delight. I kid you not, it’s a kind of Bobby Moment - as in when
Bobby, eldest of The Railway Children sees her father emerging from the steam of the train which has carried him home and cries: “Oh, Daddy! My Daddy!” It always makes me cry, however many times I read the book or watch the film. It’s the
Usher Gene, don’t you know?
Okay, so my Little Sister’s ecstasy doesn’t immediately bring me to tears, possibly because for a long moment I am
not exactly sure who Susan is. Then it comes back to me - Susan was her much loved doll. In the photo, Maggie is clutching her Panda (equally loved) in one arm while in her other arm is cradled a doll in a carry-cot. The carry-cot has been tilted slightly,
all the better to see Susan to best effect.
I rather think I missed out by not having any number of much-loved dolls in my childhood. There was, to be fair,
Corrie who was an extremely large walkie-talkie doll bought for me by my Auntie Sylvie. I fear I was too young to treat Corrie with the attention and respect she deserved. I did also have a fairy doll for Christmas one year - but she was a great disappointment
as she didn’t come alive at night like the fairy doll in my weekly Tiny Tots comic. Of course it is perfectly possible that she waited until I was fast asleep....
The Youngest of the Darling Daughters, like my Little Sister, had a much-loved doll - one of the first Tiny Tears dolls. A few years ago, a call went out nationwide for people who had kept these dolls which have now (apparently) acquired retro status.
Obviously the better the condition of one’s Tiny Tears, the better - which is why my daughter’s doll would never have made it onto the Antiques Roadshow, however many years have passed since she first joined our family. For some inexplicable reason,
my daughter scribbled all over her doll’s forehead with a biro, giving her a permanently worried look, poor thing. Tiny tears? She must have shed a few...
the prize for the most unusual bedtime toy companion must go to My Boy. Not surprisingly perhaps, it wasn’t a Susan look-a-like, or a Tiny Tears (scribbled forehead and all).
No, my football-crazy son went to sleep each night with both arms wrapped lovingly round his Martin Chivers Super Football...