Wednesday, 21 March 2018


The ageing process is a curious thing, in that its effects are gradual and don't usually register with us until they've gathered a fair bit of steam.  This applies not only to ourselves, but also our possessions.  Take my bedroom walls for example, or to be more precise, the posters, pin-ups, pages and pictures which adorn them (and are somewhat obscured in the accompanying photo by some of my collectables).

Most have now been in place for at least 30 years (though some go back nearly 40), but it's only in the last couple of years or so that it began to dawn on me just how faded, tanned, and wrinkled many had become, prompting me to begin the time-consuming task of replacing them with brighter, newer, and more colourful duplicates.  I've now renewed around 80 of them, and my room looks all the better for it, but it occurs to me that I'm living in a 'vanished age' which I've preserved by means of a scanner and printer.

Some were replicated by scanning the originals and digitally restoring them, others by scanning spare issues of the comics they came from - some purchased at the same time as the originals, others a few years afterwards (and a good many years ago).  Truth to tell, many had probably begun to look old quite a while back, but it wasn't until they became noticeably mottled that I realised time had taken its toll and decided to do something about it.  However, when younger, I'd probably have just replaced them with new (and different) posters and pin-ups, so why indulge this odd compulsion to preserve things the way they were?

I think I know the answer.  As regular readers of my other blog may be aware, my family originally lived here (in the house I currently occupy) from 1972 to '83, whereupon we moved to another house in a different neighbourhood and resided there for just over four years before returning to our former home.  Not wanting to move from this house back in '83, I felt like one who'd been "from the room untimely ripped" (to misquote Shakespeare) and this made me want to re-create (as much as possible given the different dimensions of my new room), the ambience of my old one.

Had we never moved, this desire to replicate my former surroundings would likely never have occurred to me and, as I said, I'd probably have replaced time-worn pictures with new and different ones when the occasion required.  The irony is though, that even if we'd never moved, my room couldn't have remained the same anyway, as I'd have had to remove my 'wall adornments' to accommodate renovation and refurbishment to the house a mere year or three down the line.  (Thankfully, we were spared that inconvenience.)

This would've meant being decanted to a caravan for a fortnight (with furniture and possessions put into storage) while the house was gutted of original fixtures and fittings, then rewired, re-plumbed and, where necessary, re-plastered.  (New wall sockets and light switches were installed, but not in exactly the same spots, hence remedial work being required on the walls.)  Upon completion, the entire house would've needed redecorated, and as some of my old pictures were glued to the wallpaper, I'd more than likely have just put up new ones.  However, not happy at moving, my reluctance to abandon the warm familiarity of my former surroundings inspired me to try and re-create them in my new room, and again in my old one when we returned.

I've never managed to shake that compulsion, so now sleep in a room that's largely the same as it was between 1975 and 1983, resulting in me living in a bygone age that vanished into the mists of time 35 years ago.  I can only conclude that moving to another house in '83 was a traumatic experience for me, and one which affects my outlook to this very day.  Or it could be that I'm just bonkers I suppose, but if you agree with that diagnosis, I'd much prefer you kept it to yourselves.  After all, you know what a timid, sensitive soul I am, so there's no need to be cruel.

Thoughts, theories, observations or empathy can be left in the considerately-provided comments section if you feel so motivated.

Thursday, 22 February 2018


Like poems?  Maybe you'll like this one.
Hankies at the ready, three, two, one - go.

            I'll See You In The Morning.

            And so to bed my little lad, I'll see you in the morning,
            there's new adventures to be had with each new day aborning.
            Though not for me alas, my son;  my days on Earth are fading,
            the doctor says I'm nearly done and Death comes 'serenading'.
            I'll not be here to watch you grow in each new bright tomorrow,
            I must confess I'm feeling low and in the grip of sorrow.
            I won't be here to hold your hand each time you trip and stumble,
            though not exactly what I planned it does no good to grumble.

            I stand and watch you as you sleep and nearly cry a river,
            you've given me a joy so deep, but now I feel a shiver.
            My time is short, but I'll give thanks as long as I am able,
            though soon enough I'll join the ranks of 'one short at the table'.

            So many things I want to say before I have to leave you,
            it's not my fault I cannot stay, but you'll have mum to cleave to.
            Be strong for her my little man, she'll need you in her sadness,
            give mummy all the help you can and be a source of gladness.

            Perhaps in time she'll wed again;  if so my little laddie,
            should that occasion happen, then - please don't forget your daddy.
            I'll keep an eye out from above, I'll see your joys and sorrows,
            you'll always have your daddy's love throughout all your tomorrows.

            Goodnight to you my little lad, I'll see you when you waken,
            and I will always be your dad - you will not be forsaken.
            I've stood and watched you for a week since I learned I was dying,
            each night I've stooped and stroked your cheek and couldn't keep from

            Tomorrow I will play a game - pretend that I'm immortal;
            that things will always be the same and I won't pass Death's portal.
            So rest your head my little lad, I'll see you in the morning,
            a bit more time to know your dad - another day's aborning.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018


As I sat in bed this morning, looking around at the familiar furniture and layout of the room, I was reminded that this was the very same bedroom from which I emerged each weekday to trudge along to school back in the 1970s.  The school no longer exists (the original building anyway), so my room (and indeed house) are the last remaining links to a long-vanished period of my youth.

And then it dawned on me that it wasn't quite so.  A few weeks before my family moved from this house in 1983 (returning four years later), I had started going to night school classes in my old secondary school.  You see, I'd left the hallowed halls of Academia without sitting any Highers, so decided to pursue Higher Art, English, and History and increase my meagre qualifications.

I soon dropped out of art as I found it too boring, and then had to choose between History and English as they swapped English teachers on the night I attended that particular subject a few weeks into the course.  To keep the teacher I'd started with (who knew his stuff), I had to give up History, as the two subjects were on the same night and I couldn't attend both at the same time.

So, ten years after leaving school, I was back at the very same one, trotting along every week from our new house, though I'd begun the course while yet living in my old one.  I eventually acquired my Higher English qualification to add to my two O' levels (Art and English, the only two I ever sat), and had enjoyed the experience of reliving my schooldays in the process.

But, to get to the point (finally), I now realize that I regret having left school at 16, and wish I'd stayed on for yet another year or two.  In that way, I would have remained a 'schoolboy', and extended the period of my boyhood for just a little while longer.  After all, you can't really consider yourself an 'adult' while still going to school, can you?  Unless you're a teacher of course.

Some of my classmates stayed on after I left, and I find myself envious if I ever hear any of them reminiscing about their schooldays after I'd departed.  I was out in the working world, pretending to be an adult, while they continued their existence as 'schoolkids', with all the attendant holidays and lack of financial responsibility that such a life entailed.  Would I really do things differently though, if I had my time over again?

Maybe, maybe not, but it's strangely fascinating to ponder how things might have been had I stayed on and continued life as a schoolboy.  Would the duration of my youth have seemed longer in retrospect, or would it have made no difference in the long run?  Feel entirely free to indulge my fanciful thoughts by adding your two cents worth in the comments section.

Or see me after school!



When I was at secondary school, my main claim to fame was drawing POPEYE.  My classmates were always pleading with me in earnest tones, "Draw Popeye, Robson, draw Popeye!"  They were entranced by the sailor's image coming to life on the page (in the back of a school jotter usually) with only a few deft scribbles.  The celebrity status accorded me, the adulation bestowed upon my exalted self, the adoring awe in which I was held - it was almost intoxicating as I strode heroically through the school corridors.

"Look!", cried lesser pupils as I passed, prostrating themselves in obeisance, "Tis the Mighty Robson, he who is to be regarded as unto a god by we lowly mortals!  All hail the Mighty Robson!"  Even teachers aligned themselves with the 'Cult of The Robson' as it came to be known;  I often used to hear them refer to me (in hushed tones and from a respectful distance naturally) as "a bit of a cult!"

Well, okay - I might, perhaps, have indulged in the slightest bit of hyperbole halfway through that little reminiscence, but only a tad.  The reality was pretty close to how I recall.  (Cough!)

Anyway, I've continued to draw Popeye from time to time over the years, and above is a picture I whipped up for someone-or-other in the mid-'90s.  DUNN KWIK is one of many pseudonyms I use on occasion, the afore-mentioned being reserved for stuff produced in a bit of a hurry.  Still - not too shabby, is it?


When I first posted this on my other blog, one commenter (Martin) said "When I was at secondary school, I seemed to spend most of my time trying [to] avoid lads who bore an uncanny resemblance to Bluto."

To which I replied "When I was at secondary school, I seemed to spend most of my time trying to avoid girls who bore an uncanny resemblance to Bluto.  Why'd they always seem to single me out?"

See?  Commenting can be fun.  Why not try it and see?

Sunday, 18 February 2018


was looking at a photo of where I used to live back in the mid-'60s and early '70s, comparing the field where I used to play across from my house with how it looks today (see below) and a memory jumped into my mind.  Which was that, on the evening of the flitting, after settling into our new home, I made my way back along to that field.

It was almost an instinct.  After all, I didn't know anyone in our new neighbour-hood, so it felt only natural to continue the habit of nearly seven years and seek out the environs that were familiar to me.  As I entered the field, a group of local kids sitting in a far corner, turned and saw me approaching them.  "What are you doing here?" one of them asked in an unwelcoming tone.

I didn't understand their sullen coldness towards me then, but I think I do now.  We hadn't informed any of our neighbours of our intention to move, so it would have been a surprise to them on the day.  Maybe our moving was regarded as a betrayal of sorts, an abandonment of the area and those who lived there - as if we'd thought we were too good for the place and turned our backs on it.

In only a few short hours the locals now viewed me as no longer belonging there, but it was yet too early for me to feel part of our new neighbourhood - leaving me in a kind of limbo as far as 'district identity' goes.  Luckily, I didn't feel too dis-placed, as our new residence sat atop a hill just as our old one had done, so the general impression of the topography was similar in some ways, which doubtless helped me adjust to the new locale.

I've never quite forgotten just how quick people can be to shut others out of a group at the drop of a hat and consider them 'outsiders'.  Luckily, I've never had a 'gang' mentality, so it didn't much bother me that I was no longer regarded as one of 'the lads'.  Still, like I said - I've never quite forgotten.


And here's a 'below and after' comparison of how the view used to look and how it is today.  Before, open and spacious - after, crowded and confining.

Click to enlarge

Saturday, 17 February 2018


In seeming contradiction to the previous post on remembering things, here's a contrary example of someone forgetting stuff that should have been embedded in their memory banks.  (And maybe they were, somewhere in the deepest recesses of their mind, and they'd only forgotten how to access those particular memories.)  Incidentally (and ironically), I think I may have related some of this before, but I can't quite recall.

Anyway, first though, I have to set the scene.  The family who used to live in my house, with whom we swapped in 1972, had lived here for about 17 or 18 years before us.  16 years after we'd swapped houses, I arranged to visit the mother (who now lived in the house alone) to take some photos from my former bedroom window, as building work was shortly due to commence in the playing field across the road and I wanted to capture the view (as I'd known it) before it changed forever .

I took along some photos of the view from the back bedroom window of what had once been her house and was now mine.  Remember that she'd lived here for 17 or 18 years, but when she saw the photos, she enquired where they'd been taken as she didn't recognise the scene she'd once been familiar with for very nearly 20 years.  "That's the flats on the other side of the garden at the back of the house" I replied, but she still didn't recognise them.

Also, in the kitchen above the sink used to be a small cupboard with sliding doors, upon the top of which I used to keep my pet white mouse in its cage.  When I walked into the kitchen with her, I observed aloud that the cupboard was now gone, and was surprised when she said in response that there'd never been a cupboard there.  When I said I used to keep my pet mouse above it, she repeated her assertion (not in an impatient way) because she obviously had no recollection of it.

I found this puzzling, because I couldn't understand how someone could live in their old house for 17-odd years and forget the view from the window, and also forget that there used to be a cupboard on the wall above the kitchen sink in their new house.  The only possible explanation I can think of is that some people aren't very observant, and because they're unaware of certain things at the time, they can't recall them later as they were never assimilated into their consciousness.  In short, they can't remember what they never noticed to begin with.  (I don't think she was suffering from any kind of dementia, but I suppose that's another possible explanation.)

So, 'fellow Mellows', have you any experience of someone you know forgetting something that you'd have thought it was impossible for them to forget?  If so, reveal all in the comments section. 

Friday, 16 February 2018


Have you ever noticed how soon we 'forget' things that we're used to seeing every day once they're no longer part of our daily experience?  Not that they disappear from our memories completely, but when they're out of sight, they tend also to be out of mind - until that is, something (a photo, an aroma, a word, etc.) reminds us of them - or we see them again.  So "What exactly are you talking about?" you may be wondering.

Well, as I sit here typing this, I'm also casting my gaze around the room and seeing little bumps or indentations in the ceiling which have been there for as long as I can recall.  Yet, 35 years ago, when myself and my family moved to another house, I pretty soon (if not immediately) 'forgot' all about them, even though they'd been a familiar part of my life on a day-to-day basis for 11 years.  Not that they were constantly at the forefront of my thoughts or consciousness, but I was aware of them on a subliminal level at least.

Then, when we moved back to this house after four years, upon seeing certain things again, I immediately 'remembered' them (or perhaps 'was reminded' of them is a better description).  For example, when we first moved into this house in 1972, there was a long crack in the plaster of the ceiling in a corner of the room I'm now in, which had been caused be the weight of the water tank in the attic above.  The previous tenants hadn't fixed it, we hadn't repaired it, and the subsequent tenants hadn't seen to it either.  It wasn't until around 30 years after we'd moved back (last year) that I finally attended to it, and all that needs to be done now is for me to paint the ceiling for the former blemish to be totally invisible.

Also, when we resided here the first time, my brother affixed his heavy metal posters to the wall with a stapler.  When I was papering the room around a year ago (a mammoth undertaking that took me many months, a bit at a time), I noticed that quite a few of the staples still remained in the wall.  I could have removed them, but decided to leave them where they were and simply papered over them.  (I actually tapped them into the wall for a closer fit, so that they wouldn't protrude through the new wallpaper.)  The thought that these staples may well remain there forever to mark our first stay in the house appeals to me in some strange way.

As I've said before somewhere, not thinking about something is not quite the same as forgetting it, but the result is similar - it's like forgetting.  However, all we need is a trigger for a particular memory to burst forth anew, as if it had been hiding behind a tree and suddenly jumped out in front of us, shouting "Hi, remember me?" - and we do.

So let me ask you - have you 'remembered' something recently that you thought you'd forgotten until you remembered it?   If you can understand that, you're im-pressively sober for a Friday night - so feel free to tell your 'fellow Mellows' all about it.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018


I witnessed the aftermath of a murder a few days ago.  The body was cordoned off behind yellow tape and bits of the corpse lay about on the surrounding grass.  The victim?  A tree I'd known from when I was 7 years old, situated in a far corner of the grounds of my old primary school.  I'd seen it only the week before, I'm sure, and had been glad to note it still guarding its space, but just a short time later it was dead and dismembered, and yet another old friend from childhood had bitten the dust.

I presume it must've been diseased, hence the tape around it warning people to keep their distance in case branches fell onto them, or the old tree collapsed on top of someone.  Still, it was yet alive when the chainsaw made its first cut into its trunk and it must've felt each burning blow.  It's at peace now, though I miss it standing like a sentinel in the grounds of my old school, which is actually now a new school as the old one was demolished (and replaced) a few years back, yet another victim of time.

The base of the tree and its roots remain in the ground however, and maybe new shoots will sprout from it, as I've seen happen with other trees.  I once saw one that had been shattered by lightning and wasn't much more than a husk, but after several years, it grew back to almost its former glory.  (I published the 'before and after' photos in the previous post.)

Some of you may wonder why I mark the passing of this tree, but it's like seeing yet another piece of my childhood being consigned to the dustbin of history, and with that comes the chilling reminder that my time to join them isn't so far away as it once was.


Incidentally, I was standing at the foot of this tree (perhaps even clambering over its lower trunk) when my primary school dinner-bell rang on the day that this incident occurred back in the 1960s.

Monday, 12 February 2018


Well, I said I'd do this post when I found the relevant photos, and after much searching - which has taken me months (if not years) - I've finally tracked them down.  True to form, they were in completely different places, and I had to go through hundreds, if not thousands, of pics in order to find them.  That's even harder than it sounds, because my photo wallets are scattered all around the house in whatever space I can fit them.  Anyway, the fact that I'd intended to do this post over on the now defunct Crivens! won't hold me back.  Isn't it lucky for you that I've got another blog, eh?  (H'mm, gone kinda quiet all of a sudden.)

Of course, there's always the chance that you'll think the result of my hunt wasn't worth the effort, but I'll take my chances.  The above photo was snapped by me around 1986, and shows the remains of a tree that had taken a pounding.  I think it was struck by lightning, and it's a shame I don't have a photo of the tree before its 'accident' as it was quite an impressive looking item.  (Could be I do have a pic somewhere, but if so, I've forgotten ever taking it, never mind where it might be if I did.)

Anyway, I took the photo below sometime around the early or mid-'90s, and it shows the tree in its 'recovery stage'.  It's not exactly as it was before it endured a kicking, but I thought it was a goner back then, so it was nice to see that it had survived - and thrived.  There's a moral in there somewhere, eh?  Let's just hope that council workies haven't chopped it down after it making such a magnificent comeback.  I must take a walk along to the area and see if it's still there.  I'll let you know.

Saturday, 10 February 2018



One of the items I remember from my childhood right up to my late teens (at least) was a biscuit tin that was kept in a cupboard (or larder) in four of our houses.  I don't recall it ever having biscuits - it was used for storing screws, nails, clips, curtain hoops, and all sorts of odds-and-ends that had no other place for them to go.  One day it just disappeared, though I'd have been unaware of its absence until some time after the fact.  I've thought about it often over the years, and, with the passage of time, slightly misremembered the illustration on the lid.  I recalled it as a TOM SAWYER-type boy (wearing a straw hat) on a raft, with a little Scottie dog, but it was actually a wash-tub, as I discovered when I saw a picture of the tin on PINTEREST recently.  'Twas good to see it again - and in the very same house I was living in when I last laid eyes on it.

In a previous post on my other blog, I showed you a photo of a chalk snowman (or Eskimo) the original of which had been one of our Christmas decorations ever since I'd been a kid.  The first one got damaged at some point, and was relegated to the biscuit tin which, at that time, was stored in our larder.  They may well have been consigned to oblivion on the same day, but I managed to obtain a replacement for 'Chalky' around 30 years ago, and he's adorned the base of the Christmas tree ever since.  I thought I'd show that photo again, and reunite both of them (or their images at least) just for old times' sake.  I guess I'm just a great, big, silly, sentimental old Hector.

Any Criv-ites ever have this tin?  It contained biscuits by McVITIE & PRICE, and was available circa 1960 onwards.  I managed to track one down and bought it, and the first thing I did was place it in a wall cupboard which now occupies the upper space of where the larder once was.  I thought it fitting to put it in pretty much the same spot I'd last seen the original, as it suggested to my mind a continuity and resumption of how things were in the 1970s.  It must be around 40 years since the first tin 'disappeared', yet seeing its replacement banished the passage of time in an instant and immediately returned me to back then, allowing me to indulge in the illusion that I'm 40 years younger than I am.

Sad?  Maybe.  Fulfilling?  Definitely.           

Thursday, 8 February 2018


Not exactly the same as '60s bins, but similar

Remember when exterior refuse bins (or dustbins as they were called) were made of metal, and the racket the bin men (who weren't made of metal) would make when uplifting them every week?  Then, sometime around 1969 or '70 (I think - anyone know for sure?), metal bins were replaced with double-layered brown paper bag ones, which sat behind a curved wire-mesh frame.  The bag was held in place to the wall by a metal attachment, with a lid, which lifted to drop household refuse into.  At some point (late '70s, early '80s perhaps) the paper bags were replaced with black plastic bags, and nowadays it's wheelie bins into which we drop our household waste.  The various councils of our fair land have even managed to con householders into taking the bins out for the bin men to collect, so we're doing part of their job for them.  No doubt a few jobs were lost in the process, but that's 'progress' so they claim.

At one time, only one bin was needed per house, now it's four - five counting the internal food waste bin - and once again, we have to do part of the job on the various councils' behalf.  I have a plastic bag in the kitchen into which all the rubbish is dumped - I then have to stand outside for several minutes when time comes to empty it, because I have to sift through it in order to put the 'correct' waste into the appropriate bins.  What annoys me though, is the fact that, apparently, despite our efforts, only a small percentage of that waste is actually recycled - the rest is buried in landfill sites or incinerated.  So much for me freezing my @ss of in Caledonia's inclement weather, doing my bit for the environment when the council isn't fulfilling their part of the process.

Anyone else miss the old 'tin' (or whatever they were) bins of the olden days (which only seems like yesterday to me), or do you prefer the unsightly spectacle of numerous plastic wheelie bins parked outside your house?  If so (and even if not), feel free to leave a comment if you so desire.

Monday, 5 February 2018


I never owned a CORGI TOYS CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG when I was a kid, but a relative had one so I almost feel like I did.  (Which is like that old joke of nearly winning the Lottery recently because the guy next door won.)  In fact, I never got to see the movie until it was on TV in the mid or late '70s, but I must've enjoyed it 'cos I bought the soundtrack album not too long after.  Around 1991, Corgi reissued the car as a collectors' piece (and priced accordingly) and I raided the piggy bank to buy it, with wooden plinth, replica box and all.  Some time later, I managed to acquire a 1968 original and when I compared the two, I noticed that the figures in the reissued version were ever-so-slightly different, as was the car dashboard.  A Corgi employee later confirmed to me that these parts had to be re-created from scratch because they couldn't find the pieces from the original moulds for them.  (I believe the rest of the car was from original moulds though.)

Some years back, Corgi reissued their 'Corgi Juniors' version of the car (which was a rebranded HUSKY model made by Corgi and, I believe, originally sold only in WOOLWORTH's) and I bought one.  Sadly, in a cost cutting exercise, the figures weren't included, which, to my way of thinking, was a huge mistake.  The car looks better with the figures, and the better the car looks, the more likely it is to sell in larger numbers.  What's the point of keeping the price lower if the product is less likely to sell because it doesn't look as good as it once did?  Anyway, I recently managed to buy original Husky/Corgi Jr. figures from eBay and added them to the car, improving its appearance by at least 100%.  Don't believe me?  Take a look at the photos I took afterwards and see for yourselves.

I probably will stump up for an original Husky model one day, but for the moment, this combi-version will suffice.  'Tis a thing of beauty, but I'm debating within myself as to whether I should paint the wings so that the car has the proper complement of colours.  What do you think, fellow Mellows, should I paint them or leave them as they are?  Decisions, decisions.  As I said, I didn't have this car as a kid (either version), but because I was aware of it, merely looking at this great wee toy reminds me of the '60s and the joys of childhood.  I was going to end this post by saying I wish I was a boy again, but the truth of the matter is, I've never really grown up.  And guess what?  I wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, 3 February 2018


The long-vanished hospital shop of my childhood, teenage years
and young adulthood.  Demolished sometime back in the '90s

I've a nagging suspicion that I may've told this tale before.  Or perhaps I intended to tell it but then forgot.  Either way, I can't find it on the blog or remember which of these two possibilities is the right one, so I may as well tell it now - or again - whichever is the case.

When I was a teenager, me and my pals were quite adventurous in our, er, adventures.  We explored places we had no right to be, convinced in our fevered imaginations that we were agents of U.N.C.L.E., or The Three Investigators, or 007 - or any fictional characters with whom one associates 'living on the edge'.

We explored building sites, office blocks, the local Civic Centre - before, during and after working hours.  We investigated hotels, restaurants,  churches - even the local hospital and surrounding out-buildings.  You name it, any place we shouldn't have been, we were all over it like a rash.  For we were - The Adventurers!  (Seriously, that's what we called ourselves.  Or maybe it was just what I called ourselves and the others merely humoured me, but hey - that still counts in my book.)

Let's just pause for a moment while I savour the thrill of what I deludedly (but willingly) like to believe was my exciting everyday life as a teenager, but (sadly) know I'm likely romanticising just a bit.  But we had our moments, and one such moment was this.

Sometimes there were three of us, but on this particular evening, there were only two - my good self and a friend who, for the purpose of this tale, we'll call Adam Cowie.  We'd just been into the local hospital shop so that I could check to see if it had any U.S. comics or black and white mags that, for some reason, weren't regularly or readily available from other newsagents.

There used to be more trees here, but they were felled to make
way for car parking areas.  Again, none of this exists today

The shop had nothing to offer, alas, so we then decided to investigate a ground-level out-building partially concealed by a wooded area.  It was one of several annexes once used as wards (I think), though at the time of this tale, used mainly for storing medical supplies and maybe also by administration staff.  We gained entry through the door, which yielded (undamaged) under the slightest pressure from our inquisitive selves.

We wandered the corridor, exploring the various rooms, and I happened to notice that all the windows were tightly secured with string, tied around the handles to prevent them from being opened.  My pal had just examined a bag containing a variety of medical implements and put it down again, when we were suddenly aware of what sounded like soft, slow footsteps, stealthily making their way along the corridor.

Discovery meant trouble, for who'd ever believe we were merely indulging our over-developed sense of curiosity by doing a bit of exploring without criminal intent?  My friend (as usual) sh*t a brick, but I was made of cooler stuff.  I'd noticed a pair of small surgical scissors in the bag my pal had been looking at, so I extracted them and quietly cut the string around the handle, replaced the scissors, then we both made a rapid escape through the open window frame and vanished in a cloud of dust over the horizon to freedom.

Phew!  It had been a near miss, but once again we had evaded capture by the combined agents of S.M.E.R.S.H., S.P.E.C.T.R.E., T.H.R.U.S.H., and HYDRA, and were free to fight yet another day.  Well, that's how it seemed to my fertile imagination, but then again, I always was a bit of a nutter.

Ah, those were the days.


Have you ever been so 'lost in the moment' that you've been completely oblivious to what was happening around you?  I suppose it may've happened more than once in my own life, but I can only recall the one specific instance which I'm now about to relate to you.

The stage and a glimpse of the classroom behind it

Return with me now to the mid-1960s, to behind the heavy stage curtains of my primary school's gym and dinner hall.  This was, in effect, a classroom, in which I remember being instructed in arithmetic, though other subjects were also taught.

The desks faced the wall, which once had a blackboard.
The lectern would've been out on the stage in my day

Many years later, long after I'd left school altogether, the large windows which allowed me to gaze out at the sky, lost in daydreams, were covered over.  How-ever, in my time, pupils could still watch the chalk dust floating in the rays of the sun which streamed through the panes on sunny summer afternoons and caught us in their spell.

The wall on the right once had more windows, which were blocked
off or removed sometime in the 1990s or early 2000s

On this particular day, I was reading RIP VAN WINKLE by WASHINGTON IRVING, though it may have been a simplified, abridged version designed for younger readers of the age I then was.  (Then again, it may not.)  I remember finishing the tale, raising my head from the book - and being amazed to find the classroom empty.  Vacant desks met my bewildered stare to the front and sides of me, but when I turned around, there were my classmates and teacher waiting at the door to see how long it would take me to realize that the bell had gone and the lesson was over.

This is a photo from around '86 or '88 of part of the exterior of the
stage classroom.  As you can see, it had a lot of big windows

I gaped at them in embarrassed silence, then gathered my stuff together and joined them, filing out to another class or playtime break.  I was amazed that my attention could be engaged to the extent of being unaware of what was going on around me, and that's probably why I've never forgotten the occasion.  I some-times wonder if I'd dimly heard the bell, but then become so engrossed at that point so as to immediately forget it, or it had completely failed to register on my consciousness.  Who can say?

The wider of the two doors is the one into and out of the room.  The
teacher was standing at the door, with the pupils to the right of it,
watching me with much amusement

Anyway, that little reminiscence permits me the opportunity of presenting some nice art by ARTHUR RACKHAM, and a few photos of my old school (which is now demolished), the better to indulge my wallowing in nostalgia.  It also prompts me to ask the question of whether you've ever become so 'wrapped up' in a book or comic as to forget everything and everyone around you?  If so, spill the beans!  We're all dying to know the details.

Incidentally, I've just re-read the story and much enjoyed it.  You could do worse than give it a read yourself, so rush out and buy a copy at the earliest opportunity.

Thursday, 1 February 2018


Me and David in primary school in 1967, though the
following tale happened in secondary circa '72/'73

It was in one of the annexed huts at the far end of the school one day that the following event occurred.  The subject was music and this particular hut was used as the 'music hut' on a permanent basis.  As we took our seats, the teacher decided to 'take' the register, and began calling out each pupil's name and ticking them off in turn upon receipt of a "here" in response to the announced appellation.

Jimmy Riddle - "here" Billy Bigballs "here".  Johnny Jumpstart - "here".  And so it went, until she got to DAVID DRUMMOND's name.  Now, I should mention that David was a quiet, studious boy, who never got into any kind of trouble as far as I was aware.  The teacher must have known this, so her reaction to what happened next was completely unjustified in regard to poor Davey.

When she called his name - David Drummond - David replied "here", but he wasn't the only pupil to do so.  As his "here" ended, suddenly another one sounded from somewhere in the room - "here" - and then another - and another - until it was echoing all around the class.  It went like this - David Drummond - "here", "here", "here", "here", "here", "here" - about a dozen or more times from various points in the room in a 'living stereo surround-sound' effect that was truly impressive.

Teacher was furious.  "Drummond - you're the ringleader - get out here now!"  Bewildered, Davey trudged out to her desk, whereupon, if I recall correctly, she belted him with the tawse and sent him back to his seat in abject shame for something he hadn't done.  Naturally, we felt bad for him - his fate was utterly undeserved - but it'd been funny to hear the word "here" bounce around the room and to see the teacher take an apoplectic fit over it, even if she had belted an innocent boy.

I thought the result of each individual "here" in close succession to one another sounded extremely musical - very King's Singers in effect, so I'm not sure why Teacher reacted in the way she did.  You'd think she'd have been proud of our daring initiative in forming a class 'band' - even if it was only for a short, one-off performance.

Teachers, eh?!  I just hope David can look back and laugh about it now.  It was a classic moment that deserves to be remembered, though I guess you had to actually be there to appreciate it in the same way that I do.  (Which I probably wouldn't had I been the one belted.)

Monday, 29 January 2018


Illustration by MICHAEL FOREMAN

All children, except one, grow up.  They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this.  One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother.  I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs. Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, "Oh, why can't you remain like this forever!"  This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up.  You always know after you are two.  Two is the beginning of the end.

So wrote author J. M. BARRIE in the opening paragraph of PETER PAN.  And it's true;  I know because I had a similar experience when I was three or four years old.  My mother had been outlining my future to me one day, probably preparing me for when I'd be starting primary school.  "And what happens then?" I asked, curious about what lay before me.  There then followed a description of the different stages of my life to which I could 'look forward', interspersed at each pause with "And what happens then?" from myself.  Eventually, having worked through my life from primary school to adulthood, she rested from her labours, thinking her duty done.

"And what happens then?" I again enquired, tenacious infant that I was.  She thought for a moment before replying  "Then you grow old."  The inevitable "And what happens then?" from me.  "Then you die," she said, simply.  I had no concept of death, so persisted.  "And what happens then?"  I was like a broken record, but probably more grating.  "Nothing happens then.  When you're dead, you're dead," she said, matter-of-factly.

(I should perhaps here mention that my mother's response was a surprising one, given her own beliefs.  She went to church and sent me and my brother to Sunday school, and did, in fact, subscribe to the concept of the afterlife, though probably more from a superstitious point of view than from an informed one.  I can only assume that she regarded such an idea beyond my young powers of compre-hension, and was speaking merely from the physical perspective.)

This greatly disturbed me, and when I was put to bed that evening, I couldn't sleep.  I eventually made my way downstairs, repeating "I don't want to die, I don't want to die!" over and over again.  It's no exaggeration to say that the notion of total oblivion had traumatised me.  My parents did their best to console me, saying that death was a long way off and that I shouldn't be concerned with it.  I eventually calmed down, but could never quite escape the dark shadow of the fate that loomed ahead of me.  I decided there and then that if growing up meant growing old, and growing old meant dying, then I would simply never grow up!  I'd be a child forever.  I stated aloud my determination and was then put back to bed, where sleep eventually claimed me.

Henceforth, whenever any friends of my parents would ask me (as friends of parents inevitably will) what I was going to be when I grew up, before I could even answer, my parents would respond with "He's not going to grow up, he's going to be just like Peter Pan!"  (This happened on more than one occasion.)  It was therefore surprising when I picked up J. M. Barrie's book in my thirties to find a similar experience to my own recounted in its opening pages.  How amazing is that?  A story about a boy with whom I'd been compared from an early age, and the very first paragraph resonates immediately.  Curiously, like WALT DISNEY's version of the character (though it's not in the book), I've never been able to click my fingers.

It's rather apt, then, that in my teenage years, my nickname became 'Kid', which I've been called ever since.  (The story behind that can be found here.)  Not everyone who knew me was aware of the appellation though, only a particular group of friends and acquaintances (and their families) who lived in my neighbourhood.  When I started freelancing for IPC's 2000 A.D. in 1985, I used it in the credit boxes because it was easier to fit in the allocated space.

"Two is the beginning of the end."  However, I refuse to grow old.  I'm going to be a "boy eternal" (as SHAKESPEARE put it) and try my best to retain what KENNETH GRAHAME calls "the spirit of youth" within me.  In the end, of course, it may not stave off expiration, but life is a hell of a lot more fun along the way.


Have you ever met someone and become friends, only to learn much later that, when younger, they lived near to you or even attended the same school in a previous neighbourhood?  If you're anything like me (I'd imagine that not many people are), you can't help but wonder if your paths might've crossed before without either of you knowing or remembering.  Y'know, like standing in the same queue in a local shop, or in the same bus shelter or whatever.  So, with that in mind, "I wanna tell you a story."

(Cue wavy lines as we indulge in a flashback.)  My father once had a pair of budgies, Cheeky and Joey.  For some unstated reason, he eventually decided to part with them, though I suspect it may've been because he'd read an article saying that budgies carry diseases and so decided it was better to be safe than sorry.  I remember as I was leaving for primary school one day, my parents saying:  "You'd better say goodbye to the budgies - they won't be here when you get back."

I simply shrugged, but on reaching the back gate I was overwhelmed by a sudden wave of sadness and hurried back in to bid Cheeky and Joey au revoir.  Cut to many, many years later, and me and my pal Moonmando (whom you've seen comment on my other blog) were in that former neighbourhood and I pointed out my old house to him.  You can imagine my astonishment when he informed me that he and one of his brothers had once collected a pair of budgies in a cage from that very house.

I didn't meet Moony 'til around 2nd or 3rd year in secondary school, so to discover he'd actually been in my (by then) former house without me knowing was quite a surprise.  What's more, his brother had been in my class at primary school at some stage, though I never knew him then, or even remembered him.  In fact, it wasn't until I was looking at an old school photo (which you can see here) in adulthood that I recognised his brother - as, by this time, I had known them both for quite a number of years.  (Though learning they'd both once been in my old residence to collect our budgies came later.)

What's more, the realisation that I'd later visited their house many times without ever knowing it was the very domicile to which Cheeky and Joey had 'retired', was likewise a source of amazement to me.  This was a connection of which we'd all been previously unaware.  It goes without saying that Moony isn't anywhere near as impressed with this incident as I am (or at all in fact), but to me, it's one of those 'Astounding Tales' that makes life so interesting.  (Then again, I always was easily impressed.)

So, anything like that ever happen to you?  Do tell!

Sunday, 28 January 2018


Nah, she wasn't this hot - almost

Her name was Miss Dale, and she was seriously sexy.  Small, blonde, early 20s, she usually wore a blue denim mini-skirt and also indulged in some serious sadism that too many teachers of the period were prone to.  She had a nasty habit of punching your arm several times to emphasise whatever point she was making, and I certainly wasn't the only kid who suffered from a bruised upper limb in her class.  Where did such rage come from?

One day, she decided to test our spelling by reading out words to the class, so that we could then write them in our jotters to be marked by her diminutive, angry self.  One of the words she uttered was 'yawn', which, due to my familiarity with the Shakespearean-style of speech in MARVEL's THOR, I took to be 'yon' and thus wrote it in my jotter accordingly.  She then collected our efforts and sat at  her desk to evaluate them, while we busied ourselves with something else.

After a while, she called me out to her desk and berated me for seemingly misspelling the word, then belted me with the tawse - solely for what she considered my lack of spelling ability, not because I was cheeky or anything.  50-odd years later, I now know just what an utterly inept teacher she was not to have considered the possibility that I'd been thinking of another, perfectly legitimate, phonetically similar word to the one she'd had in mind.

Her response should surely have been:  "There are two words pronounced that way, define the one you mean."  Then it would've been a simple case of me explaining exactly what word I'd had in mind, and her then asking me to spell the other, the one she was looking for.  The fact was, I'd spelt the word properly, it was just a different word to the one she'd been thinking of.  And yet that glaringly obvious possibility never occurred to her.  What a thicko.

I did learn a few valuable lessons that day though.  Firstly, that teachers weren't always right;  secondly, that Miss Dale, though sexy, was a bitch - and thirdly, there's no way clearly hormonal people should ever be tasked with imparting knowledge to any group of children, when their main method of teaching seems to consist of punching and belting them until they 'learn' things.

This was primary school, mind, so we're not talking about teachers having to deal with surly and unruly teenagers - we're talking children of only 8 or 9 years old.  What the hell were educationalists thinking of back then?  As I've said before, kids today don't have a clue about just how lucky they are compared to ourselves.

As for Miss Dale?  I have absolutely no recollection of ever seeing her again after I left primary.  Maybe she left before I did.  However, it would be nice if she learned how to manage her anger issues and went on to become, at the very least, a competent (and kinder) teacher.  The alternative simply doesn't bear thinking about.

Saturday, 27 January 2018


'Association' is a subject I often ponder, on account of being fascinated with what it is that causes us to associate one thing with another.  Surely that's simple to understand, you say.  Our initial impressions are usually the strongest, so when we experience something for the very first time - a place or product for example - we'll associate it with who we were with on the day (and vice versa) or/and some other element relating to it.

That's broadly true, but perhaps there can be exceptions.  For example, my father once owned a NOBEL 200 car.  We lived in one house when he got it, but moved to another house not too long after, and he owned the car for far longer in the latter house than the former.  I therefore have more memories associated with the second, but my initial memories of the car are from the first, so perhaps they should be more prominent - and sometimes they are. 

However, that could be because the only photos of the car are from the former house, so I simply associate it with there in a sort of 'default' way.  Until, that is, the memories from the subsequent house reassert themselves and I'm reminded that I associate the Nobel with there at least as much (if not even more so) than its predecessor.  However, because of those two photos (one taken on the road outside the first abode, the other taken on holiday that same year), I suspect that my earlier memories may have been reinforced down through the years in a way that my later ones haven't.

I daresay that if I had photos of the car outside the second house, that would probably be my primary association of it, or at least, it would depend on which photo from which house I was looking at at any given time.  Same with comics I remember reading in the car.  Namely, an issue or two of TV CENTURY 21 from when I lived in the previous house, and at least one issue of FANTASTIC from when I lived in the next one.  My associations are different depending on just what comic I'm focussing on.

Anyway, no great insight here, I'm afraid.  I just wanted to throw that out there and see what 'echoes' come back.  Strike any cords with you?


Thursday, 25 January 2018


When my old primary school was demolished in 2014, I'd known it was due to happen quite a few years before it actually did.  Not the precise date or year, but its fate had been determined and announced well in advance, in line with a policy of building new schools, then demolishing the old ones.  The building was structur-ally sound, as were most (if not all) of the other schools, but this way, land could be freed up for new housing.  It seems to me that the land used for building the new schools could've been utilised for housing, but what do I know?  I'm not a politician in pursuit of an agenda (or career).

I can't help but think that the neighbourhood is poorer for the original school's absence.  It added character and colour to the area, and was designed and built at the same time as the surrounding housing, back around 1963.  Now (from some angles) the place looks crowded and claustrophobic, and lacks the aesthetic charm it possessed when first completed.  I moved into the area in 1965, and I can still recall the early impressions it made on me as regards mood and atmosphere.  That's now gone and hasn't existed for many a year, and I sometimes wonder how new residents perceive the place as far as 'character' goes.  My old neighbours from next door have lived there since their house was first built - maybe I should ask them for their perceptions on how the area has changed?

The school had a low wall around three sides of it, with railings on top, and I remember sometimes on my way home, if I had a toy car in my pocket, I'd run it along the flat top of the wall with my hand, or, holding on to the railings, walk along the wall as if I were balancing on a tightrope.  When the school was obliterated, I managed to rescue one of the bricks from the wall, near to where the main front gate was situated, and it now resides in my back porch until I decide exactly what I'm going to do with it.  At the moment it serves as a reminder of younger and happier times, and one glance at it returns me to my schooldays, when I had no sense of the future, or any idea that the neighbourhood wouldn't always be the same as it then was.

So many memories, so many years - all contained in just another brick in the wall.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018


It was when we were on holiday in Ayr (I think), around 1963, that I acquired my first Bubble Car.  I've recounted this story before (on my other blog), but there's a reason for me repeating myself, which will become clear in a moment.  We were in an amusement arcade, and one of those 'grappling-hook' machines had a deep red Bubble Car on view.  My father had a go or two at securing it for me, but was unsuccessful.  The manager of the place, hearing my expression of disappoint-ment, invited me to follow him (with my family in tow) and made his way to the back of the arcade.  Pulling aside a curtain to a back storeroom, he opened a box and withdrew something, then presented me with my very own red Bubble Car.  I, of course, was ecstatic at my new acquisition.  To this day though, I can't recall if this was the start of my love affair with Bubble Cars, or it pre-existed before that particular presentation.  (I suspect the latter.)

Anyway, what's all that got to do with the price of cheese?  Simply this.  I just took possession of the above HEINKEL Bubble Car by OXFORD Diecast (1:18 scale), and though my 1963 version wasn't a Heinkel, it reminds me of the one I had in my infancy (which was a plastic, friction-drive, four-wheeled toy).  I could've got a right-hand drive version, but not in red (only 'Roman Blue'), so I plumped for the left-hand drive model.  Great, innit?  Takes me right back to Ayr in 1963.  Hey, that's some distance, so the 'miles-to-the-gallon' count is quite impressive.

Incidentally, the colour above is described as 'Spartan Red', but looks a bit orangey in these photos from eBay (probably the lighting or the flash).  The one below (also described as 'Spartan Red') better reflects what the actual colour looks like.  So, while I gaze in rapt fascination at my new Bubble Car, I muse in a mildly melancholy manner on the one I owned 55 years ago.  Maybe one day I'll be able to track down a replacement, but in the meantime this one is very welcome.

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