Something a bit different on the blog today. We don’t have a writer completing our interview Q&A, we’ve given the honour to Rhian Harris, Director of the Museum of Childhood. Rhian is the brains behind the Modern British Childhood exhibition. Oh hang on, turns out she’s a prize-winning writer after all.
If you could write about one object in the Great British Childhood exhibition, which would you choose, and why?
The 3/4 of a pint milk bottle, 1970s. I find this simple object very evocative. It has many levels of meaning, from the personal – I distinctly remember drinking the luke-warm milk before break-time – to symbolically representing a nation feeding its children after the war.
What lost object from your own childhood would you like to own again, and why?
My Fisher Price School House – I absolutely loved it! It had magnetic letters that stuck to the roof and mini-figures that small hands could manipulate easily. It provided hours (actually years) of imaginative play. I remember, after I’d had it a while, painting and drawing all over it so it resembled a multi-coloured den rather than a school.
Hop into my time machine and it will take you back to one specific hour of your childhood – where and when do you want to go, and why?
I would love to revisit Christmas Eve when I was about seven and to recapture the unbelievable giddy excitement and almost unbearable anticipation of what the next day might bring. Getting ready for bed, the strong feeling I would never fall asleep (I always did) and willing the next day to come…
Can you surprise me with one unusual fact about your childhood?
I attended the Miners Strike March in 1974 when I was six (I came early to politics!) There was a long coach journey from Harlech, North Wales, to London. Whilst on the march and seated on my dad’s shoulders, I shouted through a megaphone “Thatcher, Thatcher, Milk Snatcher”. No idea what I was saying but very topical for Modern British Childhood.
What’s the earliest thing you can remember writing?
I entered a writing competition when I was about nine, run by my local library. I had to write about my favourite character in a book. I wrote about Pippi Longstocking and won! I was overjoyed and given a book as a prize – The Brothers Lionheart – signed by Astrid Lindgren herself.