Wandering along to the East End outpost of my favourite London museum kept getting pushed down to the back of the London list.
My own Commonwealth dappled childhood was hugely influenced by British culture, especially literature – Famous Five books inspired us to investigate the world around us (and that dogs could be your friends as much as people), A. A. Milne shared the importance of good people (and when in doubt, honey), Lewis Carroll warned us off drugs, J.M. Barrie the importance of never smiling at a crocodile and Terry Pratchett still makes grown-up-me smile with the many hilarious layers of satire.
The Faraway Tree taught us about the magic in exotic lands, the BFG made us hope that snozzcumbers were a total figment of Roald Dahl’s imagination, J. K. Rowling changed the muggle world as we know – not to mention the effect J. R. R. Tolkien had on the New Zealand tourism economy…
Our home is scattered with DVDs of my husband’s childhood favourites all bought ostensibly for visiting nieces and nephews (but often enjoyed more by the adults than anyone else) and you can often hear Bagpuss style yawns emanating from the living room as evenings draw in.
When I wandered past (literally on the way somewhere else) a sign advertising a special exhibition lured me in – the original Clangers, Bagpuss, the Soup Dragon and beheld Noggin the Nog.
It was actually kind of magical – a behind-the-scenes temporary (now finished, sorry!) exhibition about how Oliver Postgate’s voice and Peter Firmin’s puppets shaped the childhood memories of millions once they began collaborating in the 1950s.
Showcasing British childhood icons from Victorian times to the 21st Century, the exhibits include toys donated by Queen Mary (the wife of King George V) to Doctor Who masks.
And STICKLE BRICKS!!! The bane of adult feet worldwide…
There are two other major Museums of Childhood in Britain, one in Edinburgh and one at Sudbury Hall in Derbyshire and several local authority museums also have childhood collections. But, this one is my favourite.
There is just such a fascinating array of exhibition items encompassing so many areas of social history – including a cool doll collections displayed with the clothing that children of the period would have worn. When I popped in it was early evening (the museum is open Monday to Sunday, 10.00-17.45) so there weren’t many kids in the way of my adult perusing.
Warning: There are some creepy old, I mean historic, dolls that Hollywood’s Chucky doll would definitely throw a birthday party for…
…but I really want to pop back for a property Punch & Judy show – the most violent of puppeteer tales.
Even adults can have a little fun. Well, until they turn to their left and find communist doodlings in the magnet filings that were left by a parent beforehand….
The rocking horses did make me want to be young again…
Look, there he is!
Ps. I have it on good authority that though the cafe is good, they don’t sell Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters (an alcoholic beverage invented by ex-President of the Universe Zaphod Beeblebrox, considered by the Guide to be the “Best Drink in Existence”. Its effects are similar to “having your brains smashed in by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick”.)
Have you been yet?