Magnificent Marbles and Cringe-worthy Cards
Sitting here this evening, Kaylah has got her marbles out and is having a play around with them. She turns to ask me what each one is called, and that’s when I realise just how long ago it was that I had them. Back then I could tell you all the various names, but barely can I remember even a few now! The cat’s eyes, chinkbonks, kings and oilys were all in my beloved collection and I would be so excited to add to them when a new one came along in a set I’d buy or my friend would kindly give me one from her own extensive collection kept safe in a metal sweet tin.
I then think back and remember other toys that were central to my playground activities. Garbage Pail Kids were the delight of us all. With their gross names and even more disgusting pictures, they would bring many sniggers and side glances when a new one would appear from a freshly opened pack. Pogo sticks were heavy, usually blue and came in two sizes, small and tall. We then had pogo balls, space hoppers and the inimitable Rubik’s Cube. That thing would drive me crazy but I would be at it for hours. My mum had other versions and shapes that I would also love to play with. I gathered a few Rubik’s items and they kept my hands busy and my mind, as well.
Break Out The Board Games
Toys and games in my childhood were many and varied, just like they are now. There were the ones I absolutely had my heart set on, and the ones I could take or leave. Some I really had no interest in but I was lucky in that mostly I got things I really liked. The immortal compendium of games would always make an appearance, with only a few of them really played with much. Pieces would get lost and eventually the box would collapse, but it would still get all stuffed back in there in between uses.
Games such as Hungry Hippos and Mouse Trap seem to have stood the test of time, and feature heavily still in many homes today. My favourites included Downfall, Ghost Castle and Mastermind. I also loved Battleships but I would play that on paper with my cousins after our Grandad taught us how, no board games needed! One game that really did get played often, to the point that I knew many of the answers purely from playing was Trivial Pursuit. It was the Genus II edition, and my favourite category was Science and Nature, with a sprinkling of the other ones learned from school or reading.
The Little Gems
I think the one thing that could be guaranteed, was that I would have in my pocket a little electronic gadget with two screens and a few controller buttons. It was brown and beeped and would keep me amused for hours, wherever I was. Yes, it was the brown clam-shell game of Donkey Kong! Video games have come a long way since then, but I will always have a deep love for that little lifeline for boring journeys or tedious times when there was nothing else to do.
The other thing that would always be a sure win with me, was having paper and pencils. Whether it be with Spirograph, a colouring book or simply some plain paper and a few pencils. Creativity has always been a simmering passion, and I am overjoyed to see it is now strong in Kaylah. There is something special about recreating the mind’s image onto paper. I find it soothing, and there is a feeling of accomplishment when the creative juices are full flow to produce something wonderful with Kaylah that she can then reproduce herself.
Now, 30 years on, and Kaylah wants to play the games I played. She is amassing a tidy pile of games herself. Technology has come far, the games that are on the market are diverse. But there is still those few that will always capture a child’s imagination. There are many, many more I could add to this list. Reminiscing and gasping as I remember more things that would be absolutely essential to me during my childhood. I could go on about Barbie and her unlimited wardrobe. Strawberry Shortcake and her other sweet scented friends. The frustrations of trying to draw with that single line using an Etch-A-Sketch. But for now, I shall watch Kaylah use her own Spirograph and other classics I have managed to introduce her to over the summer holiday. Maybe tomorrow I might even teach her how to play Battleships!