19 December 2008
Having set myself the task of creating an advent calendar, I've been thinking about what you might find in a traditional one and I seem to remember things like drums, soldiers and rocking horses. As I started to organise the cleaning up the house, the sweeping, washing and tidying, it brought to mind the toys that I loved as a child - a small broom, dustpan and brush painted blue, a washing machine that worked with a kind of wind up mechanism that agitated the wate; there may even have been a sewing machine. There was definitely a small doll's house one year - toys all designed to prepare me for wifehood and domesticity (failed on at least one count, then). I wanted to try to capture some of this so I dropped into the V&A's Museum of Childhood when I was out shopping, hoping to see the collection of doll's houses. Today, I was waylaid by the childsized ironing boards, cookers, pots and pans and tea sets and a small exhibition of children's clothes. Oh, the pleasure of procrastinatory activity.
I was disapointed not to be able to snap any of the doll's houses, but then later on in the day I came across a small display of buildings made by children as part of one of the museum's outreach projects - there was a Canary Wharf and a Gherkin and this imaginative confection here, acting as a reminder of both domestic duty and the indulgence of Christmas.
If you are familiar with Kenneth Graham's Wind in the Willows, you'll remember the chapter where Mole is in the woods with Ratty and catches the scent of his home. He has been away for a while and is overwhelmed with longing to find it. When they finally enter, it is dusty and neglected and Mole is discouraged and embarassed but after a while they find a bottle of beer, carol singers arrive and food is prepared. Sentimental? Yes, a little, and the best bit of the book.