Wednesday, January 04, 2012


It's now been six years since I moved out of Sparky Ma and Pa's house and into my own tiny abode and much to everyone's surprise - myself included - I'm actually still alive to report this fact. Good times, I think you'll agree (unless you hate me). Anyway, when I moved out I obviously took with me everything I thought I needed to survive, and by that I mean books, DVDs, and clothes (although truth be told the latter is probably somewhat less vital; I'm pretty sure I could thrive here naked, though I guess the short hop, skip and jump across the road to the car park would take on a slightly more terrifying aspect for any neighbours unlucky enough to catch a glimpse of me).

Where was I? Ah, yes: so as far as I'm concerned Sparky Towers is fully outfitted with everything I need, and six years ago as I jauntily sauntered out the door I told Sparky Pa that anything he might find of mine that remained could be junked and I wouldn't give a damn. And yet, every six months or so this happens:

• Phone call from Sparky Ma:

Sparky Ma: "Dad's found some of your old [insert name of random stuff] and wants to know if you want it?"
Me: "No, you can throw it away."
Sparky Ma: "Just have a look at it next time you're over. You know what he's like."
Me: *sigh, emo-esque eye roll* "OK."

• Text from Sparky Pa:

To which I reply:
No, it's OK you can junk it.

To which he replies:

Invariably I don't, and often I'm forced to take it away anyway. Which leads me to this point: does anyone want one of THESE?

Anyway, just after Christmas I was hanging out with Big Bro, who moved out a couple of years back and is also on the receiving end of the occasional uppercase text message offering lost wonders from his misspent youth. As we're sitting there chatting he mentions that Sparky Pa is having the loft insulated and had been up there to empty it of junk treasured items, apparently finding several boxes of my stuff in the process. I found this news somewhat terrifying (the boxes, I mean, not the fact they're having the loft insulated - that's quite a prudent move).

"It's stashed in the contemplation room," he added.

The contemplation room, as if you couldn't have guessed, is Big Bro's former bedroom. When I moved out Sparky Pa swooped in from the cold (and I mean that literally) and transformed my bedroom into his new office (he'd previously been exiled to a small shed in the back garden; see, I wasn't joking about coming in from the cold), complete with desk, filing cabinets, and a nice shag carpet. When Big Bro departed, the parents were left somewhat uncertain of what to do with his room. For a brief time I think they entertained the idea of making it into a walk-in wardrobe, but dismissed that as being a bit grandiose for a West London suburb. One thing they never considered, which I think you'll agree would be the obvious answer, was the notion of leaving it as a spare room with a bed for visitors; I assume this never even came up for discussion as a result of their mutual fear that one of us might surreptitiously try to move back in. Instead, they popped some new carpet down and whacked in an armchair, and thus was born the contemplation room.

So on New Year's Eve Big Bro and I go over to Ma and Pa's house and within about an hour or so Sparky Pa says "do you want to go up and have a look at what's in the contemplation room?" as if I actually have any say in the matter.

"You can chuck it," I say.

"Just go and have a look," he replies in a tone that is the verbal equivalent of an uppercase text message.

And so I trudge upstairs like a chastised child who's been sent to their room without dinner.

What I find in the contemplation room is a treasure trove of days gone by - all of it utterly useless to a manchild in his thirties, but delightful all the same. Basically, it was boxes and boxes of toys.

I was joined in the contemplation room by Big Bro, who was there primarily to gloat about the fact that none of it was his, and together we delighted in rummaging through everything for far longer than we should have; I mean, seriously, we should've just walked in there, seen the toys and done a complete 180 because we're grown-ups now. Instead we went "ooo - toys!"

The first things to catch our attention were about four or five nice Bburago cars. As kids we were nutty for these, and apparently I'd left a handful - a couple of Bugattis and Ferraris - behind, all of which were still in their boxes. As lovely as they are, however, I just don't want a load of model cars gathering dust around Sparky Towers. And to be honest the sheer amount of Star Trek stuff bunging up the place is probably off-putting enough for any potential date I might happen to invite back to mine without adding toy cars into the mix.

Next up was a box of real gems. I don't know if I've ever mentioned this before, but I loved buses when I was younger. And when I say 'loved' I mean 'LOVED' - I genuinely had hundreds of toy buses and was eyeing-up a career as a bus driver from an early age; I used to ride around the park on my bike as a kid pulling over every 30 metres or so to let theoretical passengers off. It's all a bit sad when I think about it now.

Anyway, what we found was the mere tip of the proverbial bus-based iceberg, but I think you'll agree it was impressive enough. Well, impressive enough that Big Bro ripped the shit out of me about it.

Buses. A lot of buses. My favourite is the green one. Just to clear up any potential confusion, please note that the Batmobile and KITT from Knight Rider seen here are not buses.
Amongst that sea of primary-coloured buses you might notice a more monochromatic addition. This is, of course, the 1981 Limited Edition Prince Charles and Princess Diana Wedding Bus.

The 1981 Limited Edition Prince Charles and Princess Diana Wedding Bus, as if you hadn't guessed.
I'll be honest, I also had a limited edition bus to mark the Queen's Silver Jubilee. Corgi clearly had a nifty sideline in sparkly Royal buses designed to separate gullible young public transport aficionados from their hard-earned pocket money.

In addition to the buses, and making a cameo appearance in the first picture above, I also found a Batmobile circa 1989. As I turned 12 that year this is probably one of the last toys I ever bought. I actually seem to recall being a little bit self-conscious when I took it to the till as I feared the assistant might say something like "aren't you a bit old for this?"to which I'd shriek "NO - I HATE YOU!" in response, then start crying, vacillating between being upset about not getting a Batmobile and concerned that some girls might see me crying as a result of not getting said Batmobile and start pointing and laughing at me.

Unlike the version seen in the movie, the toy Batmobile has a massive batsign emblazoned across the roof just incase you somehow managed to mistake it for anything else lurking in the depths of your toy box.
And finally we come to perhaps the most remarkable find of the evening: Superman's … well, er… Now look: Superman is supposed to be the strongest man on Earth, right? Faster than a speeding bullet? More powerful than a locomotive? Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound? Yes, exactly! Than why did he need this?

If you squeeze a knob at the back the fists pop out a bit.
"Oh look," I said to Big Bro. "It's Superman's fist-car."

We both looked at it a bit awkwardly. Then I squeezed the knob at the back causing the fists to violently pop out a couple of centimetres.

"I don't think they'd be able to get away with something like that in this day and age," said Big Bro.

I nodded in silent agreement, put the fist-car back in the box, and went back downstairs.


Tara said...

*Sounding like a parent for a second* Now aren't you glad you had a look at the stuff in the contemplation room?

Okay, I'm done. I'd be so excited to find out I still have boxes of toys left from childhood! I did set aside a few Barbies and some of their clothes, and there's an old, wind-up Winnie the Pooh that I found out was my first present ever. I don't have anything else, though.

Tim said...



As for the toys, yeah it was a fun little stroll down memory lane, but I didn't take anything. I've got enough crap bunging up Sparky Towers!

Tara said...

Me too, and I wasn't fast enough to grab extra storage space when I moved in here. It keeps me from collecting too much shtuff.