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  • Writer's pictureChris Rogers

The old and the new

This is the Lego 315-3 European Taxi, released in 1963 well before I was born and so with some claim to be my oldest set. Mum can’t remember if it was bought or gifted. More importantly, I have no memory whatsoever of seeing it put together in any of the past five decades – to my mind, the first time I did that was on Tuesday, carefully following pictures I’d found online and rummaging in the same cardboard box my original Lego has been kept in since the late Seventies.

The pieces themselves are much older, such that even as a child I had no recollection of any actual sets they might once have been part of. A little later I did know one – an articulated lorry – well enough to make it up, but that was all. Only this week, prompted by a new acquisition from the maker of the best toy ever invented, did I think of using Google, a tool never dreamed of in my childhood, to try to recover some of that past.

It was those old-fashioned headlamps, coupled with a vague buzzing in my mind of a taxi, that prompted my search; to see the finished model emerge from a tinkling sea of rainbow bricks was, frankly, extraordinary – the very definition of something hidden in plain sight. That white roof plate is chipped and a couple of the pieces are missing, though I’ve positioned them away from the camera here. In common with all of my old Lego the bricks are slightly worn. But there it is. Next to be reassembled was a tiny police car, an easier job since I already had one brick with that word stencilled on it but fun nevertheless. The same process also yielded a little white helicopter.

The whole experience has been a delight. I played with Lego constantly in my youth, and added to it over many years. My long-term memory is also pretty good. It’s a mystery, then, as to why these little toys have been ‘lost’. On the day when we say goodbye to one year and hello to the next, a question - where do memories live?

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Chris Rogers  |  Writer on architecture and visual culture

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