You know when people say that all they used to get for Christmas was an orange? Is that really true? There's only so much that you can do with a bit of peel, so what did they play with for the rest of the year? These people of the older generation never mention birthdays - what were they given then? A lollipop? A piece of wood? Bread and dripping? Nothing?
It's Celeste's third birthday next month and, as I sit here amidst fairy dresses, tea sets, scooters, jack-in-the-boxes, ribbons and glitter and pieces of molded plastic, I'm wondering whether I can get away with not buying her any toys again this year. Probably not. Because for weeks now (and against my wishes/advice/whatever) Nanny and Grandad have been telling her that, on HER day, on the 15th July, we're all going to the zoo - song obligatory every time!
"Oh good," she says. "At the zoo, I can see dinosaurs, dragons, crabs and panthers." I feel she may be a little deflated - I remember there being monkeys, sea lions and flamingos at Bristol Zoo but no mythological creatures or Terradactyls. The Reptile House may prove popular though. With her, that is, because I bloody hate zoos (cheers Mum and Dad).
For the past three Christmases and her two birthdays, I have given Celeste a couple of books. And that's it. I'm not being a skinflint, really I'm not! Have you seen how much stuff these kids have got? I had to buy a big wooden naval chest for the front room to throw most of the plastic (dolls, cars, alphabet computers) into come the evening, when I reclaim my space. The chest, which I have to resist turning into a junk box, stands next to an old trunk that used to belong to "B.R. Pond of 2 King's Road, Brislington, Bristol", according to the label inside - this serves as a dressing up box and, like the chest, it's chocka, this time with bags, shoes, scarves, costumes and so on. Then there's the stuff in her bedroom - open Ikea boxes full of cuddlies, a big PINK trampoline, Lego, a child's organ, a Lady Penelope-type (PINK) car.... In the kitchen, she owns two of MY cupboards - one overflowing with arts and crafts paraphernalia and the other hides musical instruments and puzzles. That PINK paddling pool is outside.
Then there's even more gear in her 'second bedroom' at my parents' gaff, while their garden houses a small bouncy castle, another trampoline and a swing!! Madness!
Most of her possessions have been bought or donated by other people or found as a bargain in a charity shop by me. Believe me when I tell you that I do NOT spend loads of money on My Girl - not yet anyway. That day will come; it's as inevitable as politicians being greedy, grabbing bastards. No, the toys just sort of appear and they all make one hell of a mess to boot.
Oh, I've got my own diversions, of course - my computer and my net, my BT Vision, my MP3 player, my DAB radio and my wine. But hold on! Apart from the booze, don't we share most of MY toys too? Doesn't she get the benefit of CBeebies during the daytime (I still love you Matthew Wright, I haven't forgotten you Loose Women)? When do I get a chance to actually HEAR the Archers Omnibus or the Afternoon Play these days? Won't she be swivelling on my office chair as soon as I vacate it to make another cup of tea? Doesn't she play with Mr Maker on the BBC Website? And those PINK and purple letters on a sparkly Word background are not mine, are they?
Baaahaaa, it's not fair, I want my stuff back .....!!