The 2013 Advent Calender: For the 25 days of Christmas, I will be blogging each day about a miscellaneous thing I love. Not necessarily a big thing, not necessarily a small thing and not in any order.
My mother once expressed a worry (to my older brother) that she might have turned me gay. You see, there’s a litany of things that could arguably be attributed to her influence. When I was four, she made me a doll, called Luke, who was a miniature version of me. She knitted it matching clothes to every outfit I owned. When I was six she allowed me to buy pink lego. During primary school, she taught me to cross-stitch. She donated dresses and blouses when I started reading Enid Blyton and wanted to become a ‘master of disguise’ (although I should point out, my box of disguises did still include men’s clothing.) She also built, with my assistance, Doll’s Houses.
Seriously, I don’t know where her worry might have come from.
(Of course, all that stuff has nothing to do with me being gay. I suppose there’s an argument for it making my coming out easier–although there was the religious barrier in place, there wasn’t too much of a stigma around choosing not to identify as ‘macho’–that had been fine all my life.)
This post isn’t about most of those things, it’s about ‘scale models’. Or, yes, Doll’s Houses.
They were my mother’s favourite craft obsession while I was growing up. She read magazines every month. One month they featured a five-room castle, and we set about re-creating it. The first we built was made of cardboard, which we completed in four months. Problem is, once its complete, its a bit underwhelming. So we disassembled it, and started to build another version, twice the size, out of wood. It had dungeons and everything. It lived on top of the meat freezer in the garage and, sadly, it was never completed.
But when I say ‘doll’s house’ you might be picturing something in the vein of Barbie’s dream house. Certainly John and my housemate Thom are given to that impression when they mercilessly rib me about ‘doll’s houses’. But my mother’s doll’s house is far from that. From humble beginnings as a two-room kit, she has expanded… and expanded… and expanded. The whole thing is wired for electric lights, furnished to scale, and includes a greenhouse, vegetable patch, post-box, sewing room, garden shed and orchard. It takes up a whole room in her house.
At college, I built my own, considerably smaller version. I was setting out to create the set of the TV script I’d just written (see Dec 14th), and it’s heavily based on the window of the attic in the movie The Crow.
When I first moved into a house with its own room for an office, I brought it back with me to take pride of place. From which point I received merciless mockery from John and any friend that saw it. I defended it as best I could by defining it as a ‘scale model’, not a doll’s house (a little bit like I have to use the phrase ‘graphic novel’ to combat John’s lip-curl at the word ‘comic’.) But here’s the thing: I learned a fair bit of what you might define as ‘feminine’ skills from my mother, but in building doll’s houses, I learned carpentry, how to use an electric saw, how to decorate, and how to wire electrics.
So, take that: it’s not a ‘scale model’. It’s a doll’s house. What of it?