Playmobil allowed me to unleash my imagination. In this crappy picture you see the Confederacy meet Don Quijote. Sorry, I don’t like taking pictures. My mum was a cleaner in schools. I spent most of my holidays in schools. Empty schools. I had the whole building to myself. I roamed the halls, went into every room.

One day when I was 5 or something, I don’t remember, I discovered a box with Playmobil. I was instantly hooked. This was it for me. Except for comic books I never asked for anything else. I would often act out some Napoleonic battle or the siege of some town or castle or fort. Eventually my favorites became my Confederate and Federal soldiers. I would spend days perfecting a battle scene and then let the Confederacy win. I had one room of our house entirely for Playmobil landscapes. I don’t know if any pictures exist of this. Linked to this memory of discovering Playmobil is my memory of Martine. My mum’s colleague. For entire summers I would be locked up in empty schools with her and my mum. Martine was seriously traumatized. Her grandfather had sexually abused her. She was addicted to alcohol, pills and cigarettes. She died young.

This sounds all very sad, but I mainly remember her for being a lot of fun. We laughed a lot together. She never treated me like a child and she was very encouraging. Unfortunately the last will to live she had evaporated when her husband died very young of cancer. After that she slipped into a gluttonous fest of alcohol, food and all kinds of pills. Back to Playmobil: as a child only my closest friends were ever allowed to touch my Playmobil. Playing with it has lost all attraction, but I still like to look at it. Maybe my son – he’s only two months old now – will like to play with it. I have kept all of it and it’s tucked away in the attic. If yes, I will have an excuse to buy more.