Thursday, 8 March 2018

Hello Dolly, it's International Women's Day

It's International Women's Day today, a day that takes on more significance this year as women across the world press for change.

The history of this named day is interesting if you want to find out more. But I've taken to the blog today not to talk about the women who inspired me (my mother, my teacher-aunts, my big sisters and Anne Boleyn. Anne Boleyn? Yes, I always did back the underdog) but to talk about the companions of my childhood in the 1960s.


I still have two of mine - Holly and Milly. The latter was named after the My Boy Lollipop singer.  I hadn't taken on board that, unlike me, she was black. She was just my doll.

I had another doll called Abigail who came from a toy shop in Ilminster (as did Randy, my teddy bear named after the cowhand in The Virginian). But Abigail was not made from as stern a stuff as Holly and Milly. She finally went to doll heaven when I was in my twenties.

(As a Somerset girl, I used to pronounce the word 'doll' as 'dawl'. But that's another story.)

My most favourite toy was a troll I called Pilly. Recently, my sister tried to replicate Pilly by giving me this pink-haired interloper.

I had a Sindy, her sister, Patch, and a second-hand Tressy ('Her Hair Grows') She had a hole in the top of her head from which her hair came out when you wound a circle in her back.

Dolls to me were a means to an end. They were all just characters in my made-up stories. Teddies, trolls, dolls, Britain's toy farm animals, they all had a role to play. 

I read yesterday that Mattel are bringing out fifteen new Barbie dolls based on inspiring women. The first three dolls are Mexican artist Frieda Kahlo,  aviator Amelia Earhart and Nasa mathematician Katherine Johnson, who was depicted in the 2017 film Hidden Figures.

One of them is styled on UK boxer Nicola Adams, who is delighted. Her hero when she was growing up was Muhammad Ali.

'Barbie hopes to encourage girls to pursue their dreams,' Mattel said. 

The company didn't mention that you need a tiny waist, extraordinary long legs, identikit long and straight tresses, a perfect nose and Disney-style eyes to exceed in life as a woman (well, it works for Barbie) but the new range is to be commended, even if it's just a publicity stunt.

At my tiny, rural primary school, my teacher's motto was always: 'There's no such word as can't.'

I've never forgotten that.  Actually, she was pretty inspiring herself. She used to cycle twenty miles a day to work and back, straddling her saddle in a tweed skirt. She never missed a day, whatever the weather.

When a child plays with a doll, teddy bear or farm animal, it's all about imagination. And dreams. 

Meanwhile, I look forward to seeing the inspirational trolls range. Although perhaps Justin Timberlake has, like, been there, done that

So maybe gonks. Whatever happened to them?

That's about it.

Love Maddie x
PS My back is on the mend! Thank you for all your kind messages. But no dog walks for me for the last week.

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