‘My mother once made me a doll out of some lengths of black wool tied together at the top. She was no more than a pompom with a sewn-on face, really, but I called her Dot and loved her dearly.’
‘Now, there’s everything toassist imagination. But in those days we had to be imaginative ourselves. Things like Meccano sets – they’re plastic now, but any lad who had a Meccano set in the fifties knew about tensions; knew how tight to do something up; had that feel already. Men and their Morris 1000s!’
‘All the boys in our neighbourhood had train sets. As a girl, I had no chance of ever getting one of my own. This was understood implicitly – it never even occurred to me to ask for one.’
‘We all had these French knitting machines, which were nothing more thana hollow wooden tube, a bit like a cotton reel, withfour or five wire hoops bent into the top. You twisted the wool around each one in turn. What came out the other end was an endless thin sausage of knitted wool, and the really hard part was figuring out what on earth to do with it.’
‘I still have my Triang pile-driver, and people can’t stop playing with it. It’s wooden, and you push the bits of wood in and they whoosh out.’
‘Dad got me a blasa-wood kit to make a glider. You could buy a tiny little jet motor, called a Jet-X to put in it – a little cylinder with a sort of combustible tablet to put inside.’
‘In the years after the war, guns were all the rage. Guns and crossbows; weapons in general.’
‘My uncle made me my doll’s house. I can still remember the little latch at the side. He wallpapered it for me, and painted it, and made every single piece of furniture in it. It was modeled on a Nottingham terrace house.’
‘Everybody seemed to have a little farm, with miniature animals. They were really popular. I used to save all my pocket money to buy plastic cows – called Bluebell and Daisy – and horses and ducks. I don’t ever remember buying a sheep, or a goat.’
‘The main board game was Monopoly. Nearly everyone seemed to have that. And Ludo, and Snakes and Ladders.’
Extracted, with permission, from The 50s & 60s: The Best of Times – Growing up and being young in Britain by Alison Pressley, published by Michael O’Mara Books Limited.
Copyright © Alison Pressley 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003; compilation copyright © Michael O’Mara Books Limited 1999, 200, 2002, 2003. All rights reserved.