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Christmas past and present

In pursuit of their share of the £3bn Christmas toy market some manufacturers have gone retro.

They expect to sell warehouse loads of revisited 1980s and 1990s favourites such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Cabbage Patch Kids, and Twister. The Furby, a small round furry creature, has been updated. The Furby was a sensation when its fin-de-last-siecle microchip had it learning English. It now comes with an iPod which has it spitting out food.

Frankly, it's time the toy manufactures went back to the decent and innocent days of the 1950s and 1960s.

A modern child would be delighted to receive a bus conductor's outfit. He or she will cut a dash with the hat, the cash satchel, and the ticket machine.

As cartoonist Bud Neil observed, even in the 1950s young bus conductors looked out of place on Christmas Day in a street full of weans in cowboy and Indian outfits. Their only recourse during conflict was to punch someone's ticket twice.

I was really excited one year to get a bladder. No, not an organ transplant. A bladder was what is now known as a football. It was made of pungent leather and equally aromatic rubber innards. The bladder was truly organic and on a muddy football field became a species in its own right.

Christmas was more relaxed away back then. It was the engine in the tin train set that got wound up. Batteries did have not to be included. There were lead soldiers for infants to suck and get a wee bit poisoned. There was silver in the Christmas stocking, usually a sixpence. Other kids in the street got a half-crown, beyond the dreams of avarice and the equivalent of a fiver today.

We were so poor my favourite present was a shoe to go with the one I got the Christmas before.

What child could not be but impressed by a gift involving a tattie. First, you decorate it with Mr Potato Head. Then it is a source of bullets for the spud gun. Finally you have what's left as chips.

Who needs an iPad when you have an Etch-a-Sketch with its cutting-edge 1960s magnetism and iron filings technology.

What I'd like this Christmas, please, is a UK Borders Agency outfit so I can skip through the passport queue at airports.

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Families

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