The doll that fell down the stairs

More treasures- including the Dandy Monster Comic (as the popular annuals were once called), more from that great children’s author Enid Blyton and a Punch & Judy Annual.

More treasures- including the Dandy Monster Comic (as the popular annuals were once called), more from that great children’s author Enid Blyton and a Punch & Judy Annual.

I was born in 1941, and to a child Christmases during the 1940s and 50s were very different from those of today. Our mother had a struggle to bring up four children, but she never let us down at Christmas.

I hear so often of the old days when an apple, an orange and shiny new pence were something to look forward to along with the odd little present or two, but my brothers and sister eagerly looked forward to Christmas because we knew that whatever happened we would each have a pillowcase full of surprises.

My strongest memory is the smell of a new book; it was the one thing I looked forward to more than anything else, and to this day I still find great joy in receiving a book for a present.

The excitement of tearing off the pretty paper to reveal those lovely annuals and story books is still with me today, and when I look at Young People’s Pie, given to me when I was ten years old, I have to smile because a ten-year-old today certainly wouldn’t appreciate it.

Below: Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven, The Treasure Box, Young People’s Pie, the Girls’ Crystal Annual and others were all Christmas delights to look forward to.

Below: Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven, The Treasure Box, Young People’s Pie, the Girls’ Crystal Annual and others were all Christmas delights to look forward to.

There were no Spice Girls or pop stars at that time, but I strongly believe I had far more pleasure wading through my pillowcase and seeing those wonderful books, which gave hours of pleasure and which are still in my possession. Among them is the first Girl Annual and Uncle Mac’s Chun Story Book. Uncle Mac of the BBC, of course, was Derek McCulloch, who broadcast his own children’s programme and was the voice behind Larry the Lamb.

bottomless pillowcases were jigsaws and games, and I remember one particular Christmas morning finding a lovely crock doll. I was so excited that I ran downstairs to show my mother what Father Christmas had brought me and fell, breaking the doll into several pieces. We didn’t have wall-to-wall carpet in those days, so it fell on to a tiled floor. I have never forgotten how I felt that morning and, as crazy as it might seem, I still have that beloved doll, still in pieces, stored away in a shoe box, having never been able to play with it.

Supposedly children have so much more today – but do they? The surprise element has disappeared, and as material things are so available to them during the year, what do they have to look forward to?

I wouldn’t exchange my past Christmases with any child today.

Ann Freedman

The doll which was broken into pieces when the writer fell downstairs in her excitement to show it to her mother, and which has been kept, in a shoe box, ever since.

The doll which was broken into pieces when the writer fell downstairs in her excitement to show it to her mother, and which has been kept, in a shoe box, ever since.