the joy of toads The orange toads bring unaccountable bliss; free barbie (I found her on the front of a magazine) smiles brightly. The tiny doll has none of her namesake's irritating perkiness, and simply looks blissed out. I forget where the toads came from, but I once found a real orange toad in the flooded tower of a ruined castle, so they must exist. Look again.

in bandages The bandage is from a particularly rough blood-donor session, the doll under the bandages is my buttock-firing policeman, who also features on the cover.

the blue haired angel I found her sealed inside a plastic bag on a junk stall at the Thursday market. I'd never seen a doll quite like her; flat chested, long-legged, big eyes, blue hair, for all the world like a little manga superheroine, dressed in a skimpy pink frilly teddy. When I took her out of the bag, her head fell off. I mended it, but her neck always seems a touch short to me now. The gold costume is part of a shirt which would never fit me but which was too gold not to buy.

the black eel The black eel swims through my sitting room, hugging the green surface of the undamp floor. I got the eel as part of a mixed batch of toys from a friend who got a box of toys from a joke shop on discount. Inevitably, the leftovers fetched up at my place.

eyeball fetish I needed eyeballs for something, I forget what. Probably to float in halloween punch, though certainly I never did float this eyeball in any sort of punch. Lychees are so much more fun, and deliciously cruchable. The Playmobil bandito came with six guns and painted-on stubble. I wish I had a hat like his. The eyeball has a hole, straight through the pupil, through which you can humourously squirt water, or prod the barrel of a Playmobil gun. He's smiling, of course; wouldn't you be?

cricket conga The cricketers were bought by Lalage, as part of an attempt to demonstrate the tricky concept of Connexions to young people. She was actually after the football pitch thrown in as an optional extra, and tossed aside the cricketers heartlessly. I fished them out of the bin as she looked on in amazement. "You're not taking them home, are you?" she asked. Needless to say, she's never seen the inside of my house.

impossible longing Ahhh. The tiny toxic stretchable dinosaur has found the kitten picture I got from a cracker, and now he's in love. He wants to meet the kitten, or maybe own a kitten; perhaps even to be a kitten. Who knows what shadowy thoughts are blundering though his hot pink walnut-sized brain? Alas, he can never be, see or have a kitten. The lease doesn't allow pets.

the terrible dream The realistic and life-sized salamander from Colin's endless box of toys has an ugly malevolence; the doll seems bewildered at the best of times. With reptilian indifference, it tramples her underfoot. If she doesn't move, it might not notice she's prey.

the nodding dog on a string For the first few weeks at my new place of work, I was repeatedly assured that the situation with my desk was purely temporary. Three months later, I still didn't have a desk. I spent three days a week on Colette's desk, and two wherever thay could find me a network connection in Corporate ICT. Somewhere along the line, I bought the nodding dog and unpicked a fragment of string I had found knotted around the clip inside the box file I'd stolen from somewhere to be a temporary desk to wrap around its neck. Whenever I sat down at a desk, my final action of setting up a workspace was to place the nodding dog on a string next to my computer. Eventually they gave me a desk. I seem to remember that it involved shouting.

the stuff of nightmares The hideous conjoined piglets snuffle blindly towards you. Behind them, their mother seems to be growing into a clump of enormous fly agaric mushrooms. Why have they got no eyes?

The mushrooms came out of a Playmobil easter egg, as accessories to a strange wizardy boy with stars on his trousers and glow-in-the-dark hair.

another girl, another planet Mr Spaceman was the other Action Man I made an exception for. I found him at the market and was won over by his exquisitely detailed spacesuit and perfect Barbarella-style mirrored helmet. He's one of their very posable models, and except for the trivial matter of having no gloves is superior in every way to the Action Man Space Mission you can buy new. Still, the blue haired alien girl is about to explain to him how he doesn't need his space suit, so the lack of gloves is the least of his problems.

i can rebuild me Toy Story, both of them, remains a favourite film, and the entrance of the monstrous toys remains a favourite scene. The Spider Baby, however, has aged badly, his fragile plastic now inclined to snap at the slightest impact. Possibly cruelly, I keep him on top of the television, a place where toys fall down from. His job is to keep an eye on my TV license, a task he is currently sharing with the Kinder seal and a glittery light-up water-filled rocket pen, which is nice to shake.

the man who fell to earth Damian's mother asked Damian what I would like for christmas. I can only speculate about the conversation, but I eventually received a headless Action Man (special swimming model), a gold lurex Action-man sized karate suit, and a packet of coloured ping-pong balls. So I got out my awl and gave Action Man a head, and because he didn't quite look finished I gave him a belt, too (a rubber wrist band, picked up in a club). Blue Cobra looks startled, but then he always does. I think it's that red scarf he has welded to his face.

wild sheep chase on a clever maze The strange dirty-yellowish sheep turned up one day in the Early Learning Centre. I bought it and took it home. I was reading Haruki Murukami's A Wild Sheep Chase at the time so I painted a purplish star on its side with nail polish. The maze was a present from one of Damian's sisters.

paparazzi · tragedies of scale · friends · cover · lurid stories · wall of toys · escape

Photographs by Jeremy Dennis unless otherwise stated