Tuesday 19th February 2013

I know I'm going to sound like a right old whiner but, have you seen the price of batteries nowadays? I think they cost more than the toys in which they belong. You need to buy decent ones too because if you get the cheaper supermarket ones or those 'bargain' ones from the pound shop, then you might as well throw them away as soon as you take them out of the packet because they're crap.

Also, I would definitely be wary of those recyclable batteries. My parents have them and they have nearly led to the end of 49 years of marriage. This is because when my mum does the ironing in the boxroom (my old bedroom), she takes out the thing which holds the batteries, from the plug socket, so that she can plug in the iron. However, when she has finished ironing she always forgets to plug the thing back in and you can hear my dad shouting, "For crying out loud Alice, you know my digital radio runs out of batteries quickly. How am I going to listen to Talk Sport now?". The other thing about these recyclable batteries is that the quality of them is like the cheaper supermarket and the pound shop ones; crap. When we were at the Sacre Coeur we were about to take a beautiful picture and all I could see was the zoom lens retreat back into the camera. My mum was like, "This camera takes great pictures when it's working. It's always broken. Darn it!" and I said to her "It isn't broken, it's those rechargeable batteries you use in them; they're crap!".

Anyway, Rob and I listed all of the toys where the batteries had run out (or at least the ones we knew about) because the kids were just looking at them as if to say, "Is that it?". Unless these things burst into a pan pipe version of Twinkle Twinkle or have some child singing Wind the Bobbin Up in a high-pitched voice whilst the lights are flashing more than they do at an illegal rave, they are just not interested. They (the toys that is, not the kids) are like a soulless hard piece of coloured plastic. And Rob, he doesn't want to know either. Years ago I bought him a Scalextric and as soon as the batteries went in those gun shaped remote controls, he just wasn't bothered. Or maybe it is just my kids and Rob that aren't interested in dormant toys (I feel like I should have shares in bloody V-tech). Fortunately, James is now at an age where he is more happy with the box that the toy comes in as opposed to the toy itself but this box phase doesn't last forever.

It transpired that we had a number of toys (and they were the ones that we knew about) that had run out of batteries; these included two pretend hairdryers (which still terrify Bethan even though we try to reassure her that they aren't real); a Dyson...yes, you heard correctly, our daughter has a mini Dyson that actually sucks. I remembered when I had hours of fun with my Gran's Eubank. I would run around her living room with it and it left more dust than it picked up but at least it was electric-free. There was also a walker; a keyboard; a till that calculates, recognises bar codes and has a tannoy system built in (it also takes your hand off like Arkwright's till) and lots of other plastic fun stuff.

When we finally listed the batteries we needed, Rob went to the Coop and came back saying that because we needed so many batteries of different sizes, the bill came to £25!!!!!! What the...???? It would take years for us to raise that amount in Coop Dividend vouchers. After a whole year of having 'shares' in our local shop we are lucky if our divvy vouchers come to the price of a bottle of bog-standard Soave.

It's funny though that amongst all of the 'must-have' electrical toys and gadgets, James is happiest playing with an empty box or bashing a wooden spoon on one of my pans. Bethan's favourite thing in the world is when she is reading or being read to.  Rob is happiest when he is watching 'The Professionals' or telling me about a steam train that ran out of steam 150 years ago or something like that (I do try to listen).

However,  I think that the most popular toy for toddlers at this particular moment in time is the 'Little Tykes' red car. You know the one. It's red and got a yellow roof. No? It's the one where the toddlers inside have to move around in it with their feet; a bit like Fred Flintstone's car. Whenever I have been to playgroups or parties where that car is, all the toddler parallel playing stops when the red car is present. All of a sudden, the toddlers become aware of each other and start fighting and crying because they want to drive the car with their little size 6 1/2 G fitting feet around the hall.

Bless them.