The toy I always wanted…but was afraid to ask for

When I was a child, there was one toy I always wanted but never received. I would visit toy stores and go straight to the aisle where they sold…the Barbie dolls.

Me as a New Zealand schoolgirl in my blackwatch tartan summer uniform

Me as a New Zealand school girl in my blackwatch tartan summer uniform.

To me, this strangely proportioned doll was the last word in sophistication and glamour, an adult doll who had a boyfriend, super fashions, makeup, a camper van and various exciting professions. In contrast, I was a little girl from New Zealand who liked playing with baby dolls, reading Famous Five books and dressing up her long-suffering cats in bonnets and booties.

When we went to live in Los Angeles for a couple of years, my desire was fed even more. Instead of the small independent toy stores with narrow aisles and teddy bears that I was used to in New Zealand, there was the mega-store Toys R Us. This was a mixture of heaven and hell for kids: heaven because of all the amazing stock it had, and hell because there was so much you wanted but would never get.

I hoped that I would receive a Barbie doll for Christmas or my birthday (which are within two weeks of each other), but to no avail. Then, when I was 11, my American friend Andrea, already into fashion and makeup and talking about boys, laughed her socks off when she saw the doll collection in my room. “You still play with DOLLS?” she said incredulously. “A Barbie might be OK, but…BABY DOLLS?”

I put those dolls away after that, but I still always sneaked around to the Barbie aisle whenever we went to a toy shop.

And as a school girl in America, free of uniform...but still wanting a Barbie doll!

And as a school girl in America, free of uniform…but still wanting a Barbie doll!

So, I grew up, and got my own exciting profession, boyfriend (then husband), fashions and makeup. When I was in my 30s, my mother and I were talking one day and I told her about my great childhood longing for a Barbie doll.

“But you never asked for one,” she said. It had never occurred to her that I would want one, and she probably didn’t think such a doll was really appropriate for a little girl, anyway.

I realised then that I had just hoped that somehow she’d know I wanted a Barbie. But she was right: I’d never expressly asked for one. In the 1970s, we children weren’t allowed to whine about toys we wanted, especially when so many children around the world were starving, as our parents constantly reminded us.

When I was 41, I received a special present from my mother: I finally had my Barbie doll. What’s more, it was a mermaid Barbie, because my mother knew I was fascinated by mermaids. “Now don’t say I never gave you a Barbie!” she said. And here it is:


This post was written in response to the Daily Prompt word a day challenge, here, which asked, “Was there a toy or thing you always wanted as a child, during the holidays or on your birthday, but never received? Tell us about it”. I got inspired when I read a post by Fransi Weinstein, about a fabulous pair of shoes she coveted as a teenager. You can access her post here.

Odd Things I Own #1

My home is a sanctuary: when I close the door, I’m in my own private and safe world, shared with my husband and cat. I have all my books around me, plus a lot of quirky mementos, souvenirs and collectables. More than quirky, some of them are patently odd, but that’s why I like them. Here are a few of them:

Osbourne dolls

You’ve had a quick glimpse of my Ozzy talking-head doll before; now meet the whole family: Ozzy, wife Sharon, and children Kelly and Jack. These were sent to me by  a TV network to promote the reality show The Osbournes in 2002. They talk—or did. The batteries on three have worn down and I suppose I should get them replaced. Sharon still says “Shut the —- up and go to bed”, “The wicked witch has nothing on me”, and “Did anyone feed the dogs?”

Osbournes talking-head dolls

Lucky leprechauns

When I was a girl, my paternal grandmother gave me three little Wade Irish Porcelain leprechauns, which she said were lucky, but only if you had all three. They had red, yellow and blue hats. I took these leprechauns everywhere with me, through various countries, many houses and flats. Then, in 2000, a cleaner broke one of them, knocked the head clean off the red one, and the head had just disappeared. A short while later, I happened to look into the window of an antique shop, and there I saw a little red-capped leprechaun. He was sitting on a small dish, but no matter, I had to have him, and my set was complete again.

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Lou and Andy from Little Britain

If you’ve seen the British comedy show Little Britain, you’ll already be laughing at these plush toys of two of the most popular characters: Lou (right) in his fake-leather jacket and gold chain, carer to Andy, who’s only pretending to be in a wheelchair. If you squeeze Andy’s hand, he says some of his famous lines: “I don’t like it—I want that one”, “Yeah, I know”, and “MONSTER TRUCKS!”. And not to forget carer Lou’s “What a kerfuffle”. My husband bought me these two because he knew how much I enjoyed the show.

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Mini shopping trolley

This was sent to me by a PR company about 10 years ago to promote a shopping centre. It’s a perfect working model in every way. At the moment, I use it to house a mermaid doll or two (that’s a story for another day), but I always thought it would make a great alternative fruit holder in the kitchen.

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Coral and Lucy Locket

My cat, Lucy Locket, puts up with my odd possessions and knows which toys in the house are hers and which are mine. She’s not that fond of Coral the witch, but I love her. Coral is a handcrafted witch doll from Wellington, New Zealand, who was given to me by my lifelong friend, the New Zealand actor Yvette Parsons. Have a look at this clip of Yvette talking early this year about one of her current touring productions, Dolly Mixture, which features a strange lady of a certain age who loves collecting dolls…

As for Lucy Locket, she’s in this post because, by her very species, she is decidedly odd.  Someone who perfectly describes the oddness of cats is fellow blogger Goldfish from Fish of Gold. In a guest post on Merbear’s blog Knocked Over By A Feather, Goldfish said, “…all cats are whack-a-doodle. Every single one of them is weird as all get out. They may be insane in different ways, but all cats are completely deranged, and when you get down to it, it’s totally bonkers that we allow them in our homes.”  You can read more of her post about the weirdness of cats here.


Shower cap cat

A present from my mother that is…well, just odd. But there’s something about it that I really like—its madness, I suppose.

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Plenty more where they came from. Watch this space…