22 Jun What your favourite toy might have foretold.
Many memoirists write about a favourite toy kept or remembered from childhood. Eddie Izzard remembers the excitement of finding the toy inside the cereal box when he was a child. He didn’t mind what it was. It was free and that was brilliant.
Shane Filan of Westlife fame thinks he might have had a thing for ‘exotic violent men because my favourite toy was a doll of Mr T from the A-Team. I loved to pull the string in his back and hear his deep, scornful voice: “I pity the fool!”’
Juxtapose Olympian Mo Farah’s only toy, ‘A push-wheel thing with a stick attached to the front,’ with Prince Charles’ beloved aquamarine Sunbeam pedal car which is kept in pristine condition at Windsor Castle, and you begin to understand what might motivate some to achieve the greatness that others have thrust upon them.
It’s not the toy, it’s what it represents.
Thomas Buergenthal wrote Lucky Child: A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy. He remembers his own ‘… little red car with pedals… that car was my most treasured possession. I must have sensed that I would never see it again, for I went to the storeroom to say goodbye to it. There it was, on its rear wheels, against a post, surrounded by boxes and suitcases. It looked as sad as I felt. To this day, when I think back to that moment, I can still see my little red car.
Sometimes the toys that fascinate us in childhood signpost our future. Albert Einstein’s favourite toy was a compass and Charles Babbage took all his toys apart to see how they worked.
In his autobiography Life to the Limit, racing driver Jenson Button writes, ‘You’ll think I’m making this up, but it’s true: my first memory is of cars. Toy cars. Corgi. Matchbox. Hotwheels. Our landing at home was a long one, and I used to set up tracks complete with corners –turn one, turn two, turn three – where trucks raced Lamborghinis, they both raced formula one cars, and sometimes the trucks even pulled off an unlikely victory.’
And sometimes you need to look deeper. Footballer Joey Barton’s favourite toy was a plastic hammer, which he says in his autobiography, No Nonsense, his grandfather gave him when he was a toddler. Barton has been convicted for assault and imprisoned more than once. His disciplinary problems cost him his career. Perhaps a cuddly toy would have produced a better outcome?
What’s your favourite toy story?
What do you remember about the toys you played with and what do they say about you? Start your own autobiography today with a free trial of Johnnybio’s Child and Teenager.