Friday, 3 June 2011

More of Ethel's Toys

Ethel Blount has so much to say on toys in Gifts of St. Nicholas and with many a toy underfoot myself I have found her writing on the subject fascinating.  It is such a shame that seemingly none of the toys made by the John Ruskin School (and which presumably Ethel is mostly describing in her writing and drawings) have survived:  

"The toys of early years must be coloured and trimmed.  A cricket ball has to look real, and so wears a sober murrey dress; but who would want a drab shuttlecock?  No, that child of earth and air is gay with a red velvet body a cincture of gold braid, and a glory of blue and white feathers..."Let’s pretend" covers all discrepancies; it is childhood’s own frmula to which every child responds…One is sometimes told of boy or girl who does not like fairy tales!  That cannot be.  Such a child would be a monster, an impossibility.  It is the mother or nurse who does not like fairy tales or does not know how to tell them aright.

Here is another cart, a musical one, which goes tink-a-tink, tink-a-tink as it is drawn along.  It is a cart to fill with one’s treasures, and give them a ride.  Here, Pussy, sitting on your squeaker, get in, and make room for this woolly lamb on rockers!  Here, Punch, with your grinning face, into that corner with you, and be polite to this well-brought-up, flat-packed, wooden lady with the rakish feather in her hat!  Now for the whip with the whistle in the handle – and then good Dobbin with black mane, and the red paper star blazing on his faithful breast, shall draw us half round the universe and all round the room."

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