Tag Archives: Toys

OUR FIRST JOHN DOBBIE TOYSHOP

Simon aged 3 and me looking in at our first bow-fronted toyshop.

It was 1962. Simon was 2½ and Bernard was 4 months old. Josh was working full time in our dental practice up in town and I was working part time in the dental practice I had set up in our small terrace house in Wimbledon.

Despite the fact that we were both working, we were overdrawn, having taken on too big a mortgage. We cast about for ways of making some extra money and finally decided to open an educational toyshop. It was such an ordeal getting two small boys ready to go up to town to find some toys that didn’t fall to pieces almost straightaway. The word you thought of then when someone said ‘toys’ was ‘broken’!! There was a very good toyshop owned by Paul and Marjorie Abbatt in Wimpole Street and Heal’s had some good toys, particularly at Christmas, but it wasn’t easy dragging the boys up to town.

We approached local agents in Wimbledon village only to be told none of the shops ever changed hands. All of them had been there for ages. Then, just before Christmas, one of the agents rang to say a small shop had come on the market.

It was ideal. A reasonable rent for a small bow-fronted shop – just one’s image of ‘Ye Olde Toy Shoppe.’ Winter 1962-3 was the coldest for years and we almost said ‘no’. I remember inspecting the premises, still with a post-pregnancy weak bladder, and finding the loo frozen solid.

Having managed to borrow £500 between the bank and a friend of my sister’s, we spent £250 on fitting it out and £250 on stock. If we visited any shop that stocked attractive sturdy toys, we turned them over to look at the labels to find the suppliers. We also managed to find some craftworkers making beautiful toys to order, as well as sturdy wooden toys imported from Scandinavia.

I wrote to all the Sunday glossies to tell them our shop would be opening at Easter and to our great good fortune the Woman’s Page editor, the wonderful late Moira Keenan, wrote about us on the Sunday before Easter. Fantastic!!

That Wimbledon shop later moved to a larger shop in the High Street and we opened a second shop in Putney. We never made much money out of them though it was a wonderful experience. Finally, having had enough of running John Dobbie, we sold the Putney shop in a property deal, and the Wimbledon shop to a couple who had opened a shop like ours elsewhere.

I decided to return to medicine, hoping to specialise in dental pathology. The professor who’d invited me to come and see him, if and when I was ready, had retired and when I approached his replacement for a job, he turned me down saying ‘A married woman with four children and no expertise – you’ve nothing to offer.’

Five years later I was a consultant pathologist with an international reputation. When we met later he swore he’d never said anything of the kind – but he had!!

‘Woman in a White Coat                      paperback

Lots more stories like this in my memoir ‘‘Woman in White Coat’. Buy it on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

There’s a TIGER in St James’s Park Underground Station

Tiger shop at St James’s Park Underground
A selection of cheap goodies

I was so pleased when my husband Josh told me that the Danish Company TIGER Copenhagen had opened a store in St James’s Park Underground station – only a stone’s throw from where we live.

It is a small branch but there’s always something I don’t need but must have!!

Although our daughter Louise’s children are now going on for 20 and 17 we still like to buy them silly little things when they come to visit and there’s always something that takes my fancy in TIGER.

My First Teddy Bear

A lovely gift from the Gothenburg Airport shop
A lovely gift from the Gothenburg Airport shop

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.

Memoir extract from Woman in a White Coat

Continue reading My First Teddy Bear

Not that many model train shops left

Train shop in Gamla Stan
Train shop in Gamla Stan

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.

John Dobbie Toyshop

Our toys
Simon and me peering in at our toys, many handmade, some imported

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.