The thing about a drawerful of pruck is that, in my seven-year-old mind, there was the persistent belief that it could be assembled, somehow, into a novel, complete working system or machine. It didn’t matter that almost every individual component was comprehensively broken or rusted, somehow there had to be a way to make a realistic spacecraft or helicopter or printing machine from these remnants. Almost nothing was thrown out because there was always the possibility that someday ‘you’d be glad of’ a few cracked purple buttons, a pink birthday candle, a sewing machine foot or a dozed fountain pen filler.

When Meccano came along it was only a surrogate form of brightly-coloured pruck. As its parts gradually became lost, under the diningroom table, they eventually resurfaced in the drawer which was still kept for the purpose.

Much of my life since has been spent attempting to build such machines from such bits of recycled mind pruck that I have been reluctant to throw away.