ahamleys1Like portkeys in the Harry Potter stories, there are places in London that immediately transport me back to my childhood. Hamleys the toyshop, in Regent Street, central London, is one of them. Whilst my ladies went shopping in Oxford Street my son and I set off to Hamleys in search of a megatron that couldn’t be found in Brussels. When I was a young boy my parents took me and my older brother up to Oxford Street and Regent Street to see the Christmas illuminations. Piped music was played in the streets (to this day, the strings in the opening bars of Prokofiev’s Troika transport me back immediately to Oxford Circus, with us emerging, blinking with the crowds, out of the mouth of the London Underground) and, just like today, the press of the crowds pushed people off the pavements and into the roads. Hamleys is still in exactly the same place and is still exactly the same size. Nobody has re-done the façade nor added on floors nor sought to build out at the back. And it still has magicians and young sales people demonstrating card tricks and boomerangs and railway tracks whizzing around above the shoppers’ heads and toy cars you can drive and… I don’t know about my son, but I definitely had a lot of fun!