Lego, the Nordic toy that conquered the world and can be just as fierce as the Vikings – Susan Morrison

A young friend of mine volunteers with a charity that provides kids with toys and books. Last week, she asked if anyone had any old Lego to spare. Just drop it off at the door, she said.

Friday, 12th March 2021, 7:00 am
Ian Pemberton, seven, with a Lego model liner that was part of a Lego city built in London's Selfridges in 1962 (Picture: Kent Gavin/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The next morning she couldn’t get out. Dozens of bags filled with the stuff had appeared. One or two had split slightly. Three little Lego people had fallen out. Well, I say people. They were missing various bits, like legs or a head. They lay strewn on the path like the aftermath of a Mafia hit, waiting for CSI:Lego to come and draw chalk lines about them.

The world is cluttered with Lego. Everyone has it. Even as she was talking to me, I thought, hang on, there’s Lego in the loft somewhere. Right now I bet you're thinking, hang on, there’s Lego in the loft/shed/somewhere.

Growing up, Lego was just one of those things that appeared, like pick ‘n’ mix or chickenpox. I know mum bought a set, but like everyone else, we acquired more of it from family and friends. No-one ever throws Lego out. It endlessly washes around the world in waves like a sort of secret ocean. Or chickenpox.

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I spent hours building little houses with walls around them using only the two-by-two bricks, which my wee brother, AKA The Pest, kept stealing to improve his re-imagining of the beach at D-Day, inspired by the film The Longest Day, which we had seen on the telly. It's a good enough film, but it did leave us with the baffling impression that the June landings were conducted in black and white and fought almost exclusively by the 1st Hollywood Regiment of Foot and Parachute.

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The Pest nicked the bricks to recreate those concrete blocks to stop tanks. They didn’t stop tanks. What they did do was somehow stealthily advance up the stairs to the top landing, awaiting the true destiny of the Lego brick, the chance to spear the naked sole of an adult foot during a night time trip to the loo.

Never in the history of human parenting with Lego in the house has a mum or a dad failed to stand barefoot on 4x4 brick, and never has that parent managed to choke back that banshee howl of pain, usually with a peppering of salty language.

Quite how the Danes cope with this I have no idea, and they invented the stuff. Binge-watching trendy Scandi Noir detective shows has given me a working knowledge of Danish home interiors. They pad about those minimalist interiors wearing only their socks. And comfortable loungewear, obviously. Not even Channel 4 would broadcast truly naked detectives. But our Scandic friends do not seem to do slippers, and yet they remain resolutely Lego injury free.

My theory is that they have developed a technique for Lego night avoidance, but they don’t tell the rest of the world because they never really ditched the Viking instinct to do damage to their neighbours under cover of darkness. Who needs a long boat when you’ve got a sharp plastic brick?

In fact, who needs a state-of-the-art alarm system when Lego can do the job? Afraid of night-time assassins? Scatter the Lego and not even a Ninja will get near you.

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