Thursday, 2 September 2021

September birthdays. Childcare. Some bits of nostalgia.

So far September is proving to be one of those months where the days start dull and cloudy and threatening and then somewhere about midday morph into a final attempt at blue sky and sunshine. It’s early days yet, of course. Very few schools have gone back fully yet and so if we have a proper Indian summer I expect it to start next week.

I’ve had a peacefully busy day, which explains the late posting of my blog. Today is our next to youngest grandchild’s fifth birthday. My daughter had to go into work to check that all her printing had been done and sort out laminating and putting up displays ready for her primary school class returning next week. So after she had got over the initial excitement of this birthday whose imminence she has been announcing for the last two weeks, the small girl was dropped off at my house, to be collected later.

Hunting for an empty shoe box to become a crib for her new baby doll we found a suitable one under the bed in the front bedroom. It was labelled “Sophie’s Paper Dolls” and, indeed, it was full of those cardboard dolls with paper outfits complete with little tabs to kind of clip them onto the dolls. Once we opened the box I remembered cutting out these outfits with the small girl’s older sister, now 18. Unfortunately, in her enthusiasm, and possibly not understanding what they were for, nor indeed being willing to listen to explanations, the aforementioned older sister had snipped off the tabs on a fair number of the outfits. At the time it was of no importance as she never really got into the imaginative play these dolls were supposed to stimulate.

Her younger sister, the birthday girl, by contrast spent a large part of the day inventing story lines for Peanut Butter and Jelly, Sally and Molly (the cardboard dolls) involving many changes of clothes according to the adventures and misadventures they got up to. The fact that the clothes were missing tabs was unimportant as the dolls did not have supports to make them stand up. Not once did we need to resort to electronic devices or kids’ TV to keep up the entertainment. Just old fashioned paper dolls for a good few hours. The new baby doll, who was provided with a different shoe box to make him a bed, was incorporated into the games, despite his being considerably larger than the paper dolls.

I was impressed by the concentration and imagination demonstrated. And I was sort of transported back to my own childhood when my older sister and I waited each week for our mother to receive her copy of Woman’s Weekly. Every issue had a story for children about a pair of twins, Norah and Tilly, together with dolls to cut out and stick onto cardboard (that was one of the uses for the empty breakfast cereal packets!) and an outfit relating to the story of the week. Each time one of the twins, probably Norah, kept her outfit pristine and herself out of trouble, while her sister could be relied on to try something adventurous, probably silly and possible dangerous, thus making  a mucky mess of her clothes. My sister and I took turns with the sisters, both of us in some ways preferring the clean outfits of goody-two-shoes Norah but at the same time admiring the spirit of adventure shown by Tilly. 

There is really nothing quite like a good bit of nostalgia!

For those who are really into nostalgia there is the announcement that Abba have got back together and are releasing their first album in 40 years, more or less since the members of the group divorced and stopped preforming together. The album will be released in November, and there’s a Christmas number, so we can all be dancing queens for Christmas this year. There will be concerts next year, using digital avatars, created with CGI technology. The wonders of modern science! I won’t pretend to be excited at the prospect. They were always good to dance to at staff socials but I can’t say I went out of my way to buy their records. 

More nostalgia! There was a radio programme this morning, before the arrival of the birthday girl, about Anthony Eden’s homburg hat, a great fashion item in the mid 20th century. Anthony Eden was considered a very dapper gentleman by all accounts and until he fell from grace his style was much imitated. And gentlemen more or less stopped wearing hats on a regular basis. Here’s an article about men and hatsIncreased use of the private motor car may have led to the demise of gentlemen’s hats, but fashion plays a large part too. It’s not just gentlemen’s hats of course. I remember a time when my grandmother would have been ashamed to leave the house without a decent hat, even just to go shopping, although she reserved her best hat for going to church on Sunday. My mother, a generation younger, wore fashionable headscarves for most excursions, but she too had her Sunday-going-to-church hat. 

Personally, I like a good hat. You con’t beat a nice straw trilby on a sunny day. And I have a few smart hats for the winter time, as well as a collection of berets in a range of colours. All good!

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone! 

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