Since Gumby was neither man nor beast, doll nor figurine, this thing of mine is just simply Gumby – both who and what it is. Gumby is on my desk, or more accurately on my lamp. In my peripheral vision whenever I’m at my desk, its omnipresence is both strange and comforting. Strange because, well, it’s a Gumby – arm wrapped jovially around the lamp arm, as if they are out for a stroll, or perhaps wrestling (Gumby thinks it’s winning). Comforting because it is familiar and a reminder of childhood, at least so I’m told. I actually have no memories of Gumby (or sidekick Pokey) from childhood; I don’t remember if it was a cartoon or claymation, if they had a theme song or a running story, if they solved crimes or just enjoyed hilarious hijinks. But I was assured, when this funny gift was bestowed on me nearly 20 years ago, that Gumby was one of my favourites. I have to take their word for it.
This odd history – one of someone else’s memory, and the subsequent memory of the gift itself – is the story behind this object, a funny little toy that has become a daily presence in my life. When I received this Gumby (for presumably I had others in my childhood if it was indeed such a favourite), it initially went into the detritus of things that I carried around from home to home. When I had my first house – 15 years ago now – Gumby came to occupy this now familiar spot, just in the corner of my eye, on my desk lamp. Lamps have come and gone, but Gumby has remained, moved occasionally when I’ve moved house or desk, and even dusted now and then, but a constant presence. And when I see it – really look at it – the strange history and story of a memory that is not quite mine are revisited, and bring a feeling of love, remembrance and laughter.