Elenor knew she had three dolls that she called Dandy, Mandy and Andy – because, well, she liked names like that, rhyming, flowing like a river. If she had more dolls she would have called them Handy, Shandy and Pandy – but then she remembered that Pandy was Andy’s surname in that old kids’ programme from Fifties TV called ‘Watch With Mother’, something Elenor was old enough to have experienced in real-time.
She was old enough, too, to have dolls to play with again, though she refused to acknowledge she was now entering her own second childhood. Picture Book on Mondays. Andy Pandy, Teddy and Looby Loo on Tuesdays. Bill and Ben and Little Weed and the House That Did or Didn’t Know All about It on Wednesdays. Rag, Tag and Bobtail on Thursdays. The Woodentops on Fridays. Nothing on Saturdays or Sundays. The rest of daytime hours had the Test Card or Welsh speaking programmes – and Elenor lived in England...
Dandy suddenly sat up and said: “Stop daydreaming about the past, Elenor.”
Elenor was startled. None of the dolls had spoken before. Perhaps she was a doll herself, one that didn’t rhyme or flow like a river. Dandy, Mandy, Andy and Elenor. Didn’t really go, did it?
She felt tears pricking at the corners of her eyes. Mandy was now stirring. These were things that were happening that shouldn’t happen - a human being like Elenor being watched by dolls to see if she still moved.
“Are you OK, Elenor?” asked Mandy.
Andy had begun to crawl on all fours towards Elenor.
“Can I do anything for you, Elenor?” he asked. “You look as if you need a hand.”
Elenor strained her eyes to look down at herself. She couldn’t have seen her hands because they were hidden under a cushion as if they were ashamed of being hers. Her dress was down to her ankles and, of course, she couldn’t have seen her face, being behind the face itself – and the angle of the mirror over the fireplace couldn’t reflect her at all, it seemed.
Then Looby Loo suddenly came into the room. And all the dolls froze. They couldn’t be seen to be alive. Maybe the house knew something about it. Its mirror, too. But that was that.
Looby Loo dragged Teddy across the carpet by his ear. And placed him next to Elenor. Except Looby Loo never called her Elenor. She called her Bandy. And when Bandy was tilted in a certain direction, her eyes opened wider to cry but it all spilled instead from somewhere below the dress in whatever direction her legs went. A silent Woodentop with a river of misplaced tears.