Geek, Memory: Noddy
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I was a serious child. I did lots of normal child things, but I wanted to do them in a serious way. I would play with teddy bears, for example, but I used to stage elaborate conflicts between Arizona and Greece (it was never fully explained why they were at war), which were usually ended by a peaceful, diplomatic resolution, before any blood could be spilt, though the sanctions did cost Arizona its permanent place on the UN Security Council.
It was no real surprise to my parents, therefore, when I decided to become a collector of Noddy memorabilia, age 5.
For those who don’t know – and shame on you if that’s the case – Noddy was a series of books by Enid Blyton which was adapted by the BBC into a children’s TV show in the 90s. All the characters in the show are anthropomorphised toys – yep, John Lasseter is a thief – who travel around Toyland getting up to all sorts of adventures and hijinks. It is also the most glamorous depiction of professional taxi driving that I’ve ever encountered.
I loved the show and I loved the books. I remember that a new Noddy book, hidden in the glove compartment of our car, was the standard enticement for hospital visits or vaccinations. My health was routinely bartered against adventures like Noddy Goes to Sea and Noddy and the Magic Rubber (not as dirty as it sounds) and I began to amass a pretty nice collection of the glossy, yellow and red polka-dotted books. But little children are greedy and, pretty quickly, I realised that wasn’t enough.
Fragile porcelain figurines of the Noddy characters were my next fixation, as well as sturdier (and weirder) models recreating scenes from the books, like Noddy and Big Ears fishing for gnomes. I didn’t play with these; I secreted them away and could only be encouraged to bring them out if I considered the visitor eminent enough to see them. Even my Noddy shoes and t-shirt were eventually offered up to my private collection, robbing me of my favourite gear and much of my sex appeal. But this was all for the sake of acquiring the greatest Noddy collection the land had ever seen, which, even age 5 or 6, I became convinced would, one day, be worth a small fortune.
Eventually, my collection, and mania for collecting, became too extreme for my bedroom, and I appropriated a study space in my house (scarcely bigger than a cupboard), which became The Noddy Museum. Every birthday I added to my inventory, much in the manner of a psychopath, and whenever we had the opportunity to visit a car boot sale or a tacky gift shop, I got my carefully saved pounds and pennies from my LEGO wallet (my Noddy wallet was in the museum, duh) and made the acquisition. I remember spending a day at Thorpe Park sheltering my newly purchased Noddy figurine from the dangerous rides. I also, obviously, feared roller coasters and hated the sun’s hot rays.
Eventually, it came to an end. In 1998 they released a weird new 3D animation version of Noddy which made me sick to the core. Enid Blyton had selfishly died in 1968, leaving just 24 Noddy books, which even the most amateurish collector could acquire within a few months. I still guarded my collection ferociously, but I fell out of love with Noddy and it turned out that my habitual collecting was borne out of the hours I spent in front of the TV, rather than from an attempt to capitalise on the high-end Blyton collectors’ market.
I am glad I stopped collecting Noddy. I was weird enough already, what with all the piano lessons and claims I could talk to God. Everyone responded very politely to The Noddy Museum, but I realise now that there were probably some very worried conversations taking place out of earshot. In the end, I was just quite a serious child who wanted to be taken seriously with all my serious pursuits, but, in doing so, I tended to drain the fun out of an activity.
My Noddy collection still exists, somewhere. My Mum is finally selling our family home and I expect that, in the course of packing up the detritus of 22 years of living there, I will stumble upon the boxed up remnants of The Noddy Museum. I suspect it’s not worth the thousands of pounds I once imagined it might one day be, but maybe I’ll find something of myself in there. You can’t put a price on that, although, that said, I’ll sell to the highest bidder.
Follow Nick on Twitter @nickfthiltonby