I had a doll’s house when I lived in Africa. I think my father made it – from hardboard and panel pins and painted it in pale pastels. It was fairly robust and I have no idea where it ended up after 1976. I hope it went to the “Children’s Home,” which seemed to be the place where things were donated and the Freemasonry, I seem to recall, made contributions. Pa was for a time, the “charity steward” when he trotted off with his little case on masonic meeting missions. No particular mystery – he went and ma went on “Ladies Nights” – from whence she brought home pretty blown glass animals. And every Christmas we went to the Christmas Party. Games and a parcel and something to eat. Not a hint of arcana or corruption – sorry anyone who disagrees, but a child’s mind can be simple – mine was.
One Christmas, my sister and I received among other things and not from the aforementioned party, sheets and sheets of printed cardboard which you “pressed-out” and made up into furniture for your doll’s house. I spent hours creating the 3D tables, chairs and armchairs and then even longer arranging them in the house. I found dolls a complete waste of time and left the poor things, eyes poked askew (“Dolly Grace” – a life size baby doll from some generous English second cousins). I also misappropriated her “Triang’ pushchair and got magnificently stuck in it when I thought it would be a place in which to ride. The combined tugging of my mother and Veronica freed a downcast and wailing me, the cotton seat ripped and was repaired with some unbleached material which was referred to as “K. sheeting” and usually used to line curtains. I almost felt guilt when I chanced upon the repaired pushchair with its’ wall-eyed occupant, but not for long. There was always a Wendy House and the swing in the mulberry tree.
Yesterday morning I spent my time allegedly “tidying the landing” when small and large male had gone to the Lothians to fence. A larger proportion of my time was spent damp-dusting and exhuming furniture, also editing out colouring pencils,string and odd bits of Lego which had made their way into the rooms of another lovely doll’s house. Adopted, this time – from my sister-in-law, who seemed not to want it.
This one is firmly from the 1970s Britain school of design and is none the worse for it. The attendant box of “things” were an even better find – 1930s bendy (?lead) figures, wee plates and saucepans – also metal, a yellow bathroom suite, G-plan plastic living room storage and all sorts of other bits. A thoroughly enjoyable hour or so…although my knees fussed a bit when I stood up – that didn’t happen in the 1970s- and relived the minutiae. Delightful.