Tonight before turning in, I was waylaid by nostalgia. I was hunting for a photo and came across my favourite beagle, Snoopy, eccentric hero of the Peanuts, and a blast from my past, the Easy Bake Oven. I had one of these until I worked out that the big oven produced better and more satisfying results. It looked roughly like the photo, was that same horrible institutional swimming pool colour but was full of wonderous possiblities. You could bake your own little cakes in it, all under the intense glare of a - well, an incandescent lightbulb actually. The man who developed this exciting toy for girls (gender stereotyping was fully engaged), Ronald Howes also had a part in Play Doh and the Spirograph. I wonder what happened to all the little girl’s who owned this oven, are they leading enchanted lives of domestic bliss?
(For those who ended up here because they linked with the tag, girl’s toys and were looking for something different, I’m laughing!)
I’m thinking about the summers of my youth, looking out the window and remembering warm days, freezies (ice lollies), endless hours that were never enough to, ride bikes, swing to touch the sky, play hopscotch or spin hula hoops, build forts (dens), go to the beach and only come home when it was dark and parental threats compelled us. Summer would not have been complete though without a bug catcher. In the interests of strong narrative I have searched for the aforementioned item to show you. What a joy when I found it, transporting me back to the cruel and wonderful years of my childhood. It was misnamed really, that innocent looking plastic container with the air holes (it also had a removeable lid, and usually came with a tiny plastic magnifying glass and yes, the plastic plant with plastic bugs, just to encourage you). It would have been more aptly named a bug crematorium or maybe a bug mortuary. I would spend hours looking for irridescent beetles, ladybirds (they always left a little yellow pee-like stain on your hand), hairy black and orange caterpillars, or my favourite, the inch worm. I would gather a small jungle of foliage to give my captives a comfortable home, put a bottle cap lid of water at the bottom and be satisfied they could not find better accomodation elsewhere. Except perhaps their own habitat. It is a heavy burden of guilt I have carried all these years, a wonder it makes me so happy to look at these torture devices. You will have realised what my four year old self could not - that being behind the plastic only concentrates the heat, that I didn’t have a clue what insects needed to live and theirs was a slow death at the hands of well meaning ignorance. Yet, despite the guilt I should be feeling, all I can do is smile at my photo find. For this meant summer, long days and the promise of fun, scraped knees, climbing trees and freedom. Not for my prisoners though.