Battered dolls and soft toys are often described as “much loved”. No doubt many are. But “love” from small children is not always good for them. My own teddy bear is still suffering from the effects of a hair-cut I gave her in the mid 1950s. Besides, from the evidence, some dolls are the victims of neglect and for that matter violent abuse. On top of all that, do we really understand dolls? Do the same things make them unhappy as make us unhappy?

This is a very masculine take on what I see as unlucky dolls. Lucky dolls, courtesy of my wife Frances Schultz, will come later. All of the pictures here, unsurprisingly, were taken at vide-greniers.

Having the top of your head removed might upset most of us. But if that's the way you normally get your hair re-styled, how big a problem is it?

How drunk is he? I can remember being like that when I was 16 or 17. It was Founders' Day at my boarding school. When all the parents had gone home I went up the road to drink with my closest (and still oldest) friend, a day-boy. Back on school grounds I collapsed and fell asleep on an inflatable dinghy kindly provided by the school Combined Cadet Force (CCF).

Somehow this reminds me of my mid- to late teens. One of the many strange things about dolls is that they are every age and no age, as we are ourselves in dreams: simultaneously babies, small children, adolescents and adults.

Yet another strange thing about dolls is the way they mix sex and asexuality. Most are patently female, except in the genital department. The same is true of boys' dolls: Action Man and the like. So-called "anatomically correct" dolls are rare, and are restricted, as far as I have ever seen, to baby boy dolls. There are plenty of "teenage" dolls with fantasy figures, but pregnant dolls are vanishingly rare. Then you have this little girl doll who definitely looks pregnant.

The American Dream. Bang bang, that awful sound, bang bang, I shot my true love down. Note the eye make up: her eyes are closed and not (as far as we know) blue.

I assume the holes are for a speaker in her chest, but they certainly look frightening when the doll is stripped to her knickers. Another puzzle is the dirt on her arms and face.Exactly how does a doll get dirty like that? And who is going to buy her?

A shallow grave? Forgotten? Or just neglected? Dolls are not people. It can be hard to forget this, though. If we can learn to treat dolls more like people, perhaps we can learn to treat people less like dolls.

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