For my 21st birthday (beginning of November) I went to London for the weekend. The next few posts will be about my trip. It’s a bit late but I’ve been living under university work for the past couple of weeks (not literally… except the night I fell asleep with my laptop on me.. okay sometimes literally).
Hope you all enjoy!
During the trip to London, I planned to visit the famous Hamley’s toy shop for the second time. The previous time, me and my friend had gone, but had initially not realised that we were incapable of running at 70mph to get to the coach, so our visit was cut shorter than we’d have liked. And plus I was convinced that now, as an adult of 21 years, this part of the trip would not involve me spending any money. Yes, there was a five minute period where I was certain that I had crossed over the threshold between childhood and adulthood and become a mature woman who would only spend money on grown-up things like stainless steel pans and window frames. I envisioned myself coming home with pocketfuls of money, ready to embrace bill paying and calendars. Unfortunately, this was only a temporary adult moment, and I crossed straight back over that threshold, running and leaping back into my childhood self at the toy shop door.
When I enter a toy shop I am not one of those people who reacts by getting broody, and practically willing fertility by stroking toys with admiration. Nor am I one of those people who looks more miserable than a teddy bear at a machete factory. No, I’m not either of those people, but a person who instantly regresses into a childlike mindset, wondering how many toys I can buy before it reaches the limits of social acceptability. And how many young relatives I can make up at the pay-point in order to evade embarrassment. But, having experienced a moment of grown-up-ness, I decided to restrain myself from toy-buying, which worked successfully until I came across a man making a spaceship float between his hands. Now only handcuffs and rope could restrain me from stepping into the zone of fake cousins and nieces.
The man in the shop made the spaceship whizz round him seamlessly, with the fast motions of his hands emitting enough power to keep it afloat. I was astounded. I had gone into the toy shop an ordinary woman, and was now faced with coming out as something extraordinary, a wizard rivaling Harry Potter and his friends. And I wouldn’t even have to be brutally cruel to a man suffering from old age and facial disfigurement. He who must not be named could be left unnamed.
I saw the man and I wanted to be him. I wanted to be the person surrounded by a crowd of adoring fans, the person who could defy the laws of physics with a simple wave of the hand. Great consideration went into becoming him – I could buy that bright red T-shirt, I could cut my hair short, I could somehow get his magical powers transferred into me. That’s when I saw the sign behind him. It read ‘£13’. It was only £13 to become a UFO-powering genius. I was sold.
When I got home from London I was excited to open my box of dreams. I couldn’t wait for my family to see my transformation from dull young adult to powerful wizard, it was clearly going to be a big moment. Forget passing my A Levels, this would leave them glowing so brightly with pride that anyone would think I’d brought the sun home in my hand luggage. If this experience is anything to go by you might think that I believed carrying the sun home was a possibility, that you could buy parts of it in a children’s toy shop and become a wild weather creature. I rushed to open my box, ready to become a changed, more cultured (in wizarding culture, duh) woman. I would finally have an achievement to show for my 21 years. If someone asked me what I had done this year I could tell them I had telekinetic powers beyond human reality. When I opened it, however, I was not faced with acceptance into the astounding humans society, but acceptance into something that would more appropriately be defined as a kitchen cupboard. I was faced with this:
To someone who was aware they were buying a spaceship attached to strings this would have been a wonderful moment. They would have grabbed the shiny piece of material and wrapped the cotton round them in a loving embrace, thankful for the opportunity to play with this amazing creation. But for someone like me, all this looked like was a bizarre and disappointing mixture of aluminium kitchen foil and cotton, something that only a dedicated housemaid would enjoy. It didn’t float, it didn’t dance in your hands magically, and most of all it didn’t do anything for my reputation. Other than cause my family to laugh hysterically and joke about me basically throwing money at bits of tin foil. And thinking these bits of tin foil had magical powers.
You might be wondering, what sort of 21-year-old thinks someone can screw over gravity in such an appalling manner? I would have thought that too, had I not laid my eyes on the box it came in:
It said science on it. Other things that say science on it include Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton, and what they did was real. Which meant I obviously assumed the adorable UFO was created by years of experiments on what materials your bones repel, not ten minutes of attaching string to a piece of foil with silly bits of putty. There I was dreaming of getting to handle a wonderful scientific creation that would allow me to laugh in gravity’s face.
‘HAHA gravity, you can’t touch this!’ I would have shouted brandishing my beautiful piece of scientific equipment and making gravity sigh in defeat.
Instead I ended up being the laughing-stock, with the almighty gravity proving that it is everywhere, like some invasive but powerful God-creature, throwing it’s fists in the air when I opened a box which essentially contained sewing equipment. Thanks to the trickery of the toy shop I was left feeling weak and intimidated by something I can’t even see, which is kind of ironic considering the strings on my UFO are more visible than Mr Blobby at a funeral. (Well, they’re actually pretty invisible, but they’re still in existence so we’ll leave it at that).
I have not tried to learn how to use my UFO since I bought it. I may be silly enough to think I have the power to make things float between my hands, but I’m not silly enough to stick some cotton behind my ear and bob my head back and forth to make a shiny piece of foil move. I’ll leave that to the people satisfied with the limitations of hand power.