I had no idea where the Christmas presents were kept. To my pre-teen mind, they may well have been kept in storage in Santa’s workshop, ready for reindeer-powered delivery in the early hours of Christmas morning.
But birthday presents? I knew where some of those were kept. And so, with Mum out down the shops and the house to myself, I watched children’s TV on the big Goldstar in the corner of the lounge, occasionally switching to Teletext for Digitiser and other blocky marvels. At least until curiosity got the better of me.
By the back window looking over the long stretch of garden there was a sideboard. And behind the left cupboard door was a box wrapped in colourful paper. With the TV muted to hear for the return of Mum’s car, I shook the box and experienced the muffled jingle of plastic parts and flimsy bags.
It was definitely LEGO. Turning the box over in my small hands, I mentally sized it up versus other boxes I had seen in stores, sets that I had asked for. Was it the Shark Submarine? A Space Police ship? Or even Space Explorers?
I gave the box another tentative shake. Would there be orange plasma chainsaws inside, or loudspeakers re-purposed as guns with the application of a single transparent rounded brick?
Every day when I could, I’d shake the box and try to divine the sound of the secret within. Then I’d hear the wheels of the car on the gravel, and put the box where I found it before taking the TV off mute.
I found out what it was towards the end of that Easter half-term break. My main guess was right, but it was mostly luck as opposed to decoding the rattle of bricks in a cardboard box.
What was it?