Museum of Childhood to celebrate festive tales

Ted Pearce, aged four, at the Museum of Childhood. Picture: Greg Macvean

Ted Pearce, aged four, at the Museum of Childhood. Picture: Greg Macvean

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MEMORIES of tingling cold hands, rainy day boredom, and the excitement of opening presents are set to be relived at the Museum of Childhood in a brand new exhibition this Christmas.

The city centre attraction, situated on the Royal Mile, has teamed up with 26 writers who have each written a sestude – 26 words – about a group of objects related to winter childhood.

The exhibition will include images of old-fashioned board games, ice skates, teddy bears, dolls and Wellington boots. The 20 Children’s Winters exhibition – which launched yesterday – is now displaying the sestudes alongside the pictures and explores the memories and emotions each of the items evokes.

Douglas Thompson, a writer taking part in the exhibition, described childhood as a “magical period when a human mind first forms and begins to glimpse the mystery and majesty of the world that surrounds us”.

He said that when people make the progression into adulthood, they lose their sense of wonder and forget how to rekindle it.

And he believes the sestudes will help adults “regain the eyes of innocence” and remember that wonder once existed.

Mr Thompson, who has written about board games in his piece, said: “Our scientific view of the world is a ‘best fit’ template.

“It helps us make sense of the adult world, but it comes at a terrible price: the loss of imagination.

“My sestude about board games addresses the mysterious issue of luck, something which most of us dismiss as superstition in adult life, but which inevitably touches on deeper issues such as karma and freewill.

“The question of whether the future is pre-ordained or, if not, what control we can really exert over it by purely rational means?”

He added that his 26-word poem, which will be displayed in the Museum of Childhood, mentions one of his brothers who always threw a “ridiculous number” of sixes when playing board games.

But now his brother ironically refers to him as “lucky Douglas”.

Writer Aimee Chalmers was given the task of writing 26 words about a pair of ice skates.

She said: “Before a 26 project, I’m always worried about whether I’ll be able to relate to my ‘object’.

“‘Skating boots’ didn’t mean much to me until I remembered the one time I did skate as a child.

“The trail through town to the frozen pond, the cold hands and feet, the borrowed skates, the ankle wobble, arms flailing and then the topple.”

The event is free, suitable for all ages and runs until January next year.

courtney.cameron@edinburghnews.com