I never had any soft toys as a child – we were too poor for such luxuries. We had a game of Ludo and that was that, but Josh and I showered our four children and grandchildren with soft toys. Josh especially finds them irresistible. Our John Dobbie toyshop always had loads.
When I saw this gorgeous soft cuddly teddy bear in the Gothenburg Airport shop I had to have it. He sits on my bedside table with the two or three books I am in the process of reading and sometimes creeps into bed with me.
As a child, I lived in a cramped cold-water tenement in Petticoat Lane. We played outside whenever we could, though on rainy days we’d slip into the unused communal laundry room on the top floor of our block.
Gamla Stan – the old town of Stockholm – has it all – cobbled streets, a palace, statues, lots of cafes and restaurants, some good shops like this model train shop with a toy train chugging around the window, and lots of tourist traps full of the usual Swedish horses, sweaters and toy Vikings. We sold toy trains for a short time in our John Dobbie toyshop but you really need an expert to give advice. Had a toy train set up at home for a while but it never became a big thing for us.
Cobbles look impressive and authentic, but not very kind if you have a sore hip.
We opened our john Dobbie toyshop on Monday April 1st 1963, two weeks before Easter. The little bow-fronted shop in Wimbledon Village with multiple small panes of glass was exactly right for a toy shop.
From my memoir Woman in a White Coat Simon was 2½ and Bernard 6 months old. It was still not allowed for the names of doctors or dentists to be associated with business, or to advertise in any way. Simon always called himself Dobbie and John Dobbie sounded like a good solid name. We took on a sparky red-headed manageress sent by the employment agency three doors away from our shop.
On Easter Sunday, Moira Keenan’s piece about John Dobbie appeared in the Sunday Times. We were off to a great start.