Wednesday, 23 August 2017


Back in May of 2015, I posted a cover gallery of MARVEL UK's monthly INDIANA JONES mag.  I'd just recently acquired a missing issue (#6), and also #11 (though I may have got that later), but I didn't yet own the Christmas Special.  I borrowed the image from eBay so that the gallery was complete, but it was only a couple of days ago that I was finally able to acquire my own copy - so here it is!

Although it was probably advertised in the monthly, I no longer remember if I knew about it back in 1984, but if I did, I'd forgotten all about it in the intervening years until I first saw a copy on eBay (which pre-dated the eBay image mentioned above).  The fact that I didn't buy a copy back in 1984 means that I certainly never saw it in the shops, but now, nearly a whopping 33 years after the fact, I've rectified the oversight and now have a complete collection.  Let me tell you, it's a strange sensation to realise that so much time has elapsed, because it doesn't feel like anywhere near as long as that.

Because this Special belongs in 1984, I can practically 'see' it in the room of the house I lived in back then, with such clarity that it seems almost like a memory, rather than merely my imagination.  I took a look at my 2015 cover gallery before preparing this post, and when I saw the cover of the first issue, it was as if I was back in that room again, 'cos even after all this time, that's where I associate it with.  As I've said before with other mags, it's time travel, pure and simple.  If you'd like to see the other covers in the series, click on this link, and refresh your own memories of 1984 - if you were around back then, obviously, and buying this monthly mag.  (I've now replaced the borrowed image with the one above.)

Are there any missing issues from years ago in your collection that you plan on acquiring sometime to plug the gap?  If so, let's hear all about them in our captivating comments section, frantic ones, and what period of your life they represent to you.  Or feel free to tell your fellow Criv-ites how you felt when you previously acquired a long-missing issue.  Was it a satisfying sensation or a bit of an anti-climax?  The floor is now yours (if you want it).

Monday, 21 August 2017


Those of you a few years either side of my own age will probably remember MB Bars.  As MB stood for Monster Bar, when you asked for an MB Bar, you were actually asking for a Monster Bar Bar - which is daft when you think about it.  I first started buying MB Bars from a newsagent's called Chambers in a street named Chalmers Crescent, back around 1963/'64, on my way to school and sometimes after.  (And probably weekends too, come to think of it.)

20 years later, I was back in that same shop and was amazed to see that it still sold MB Bars.  Now, I'd probably bought a few in different shops over the years as I grew up, but I hadn't seen them in ages, so to see them on sale where I'd first bought one quite appealed to my sense of nostalgia.  This time they came in a cellophane wrapper (with the name, ingredients, and maker's name), and when I asked why, I was told it was because of EU hygiene regulations (or some such equivalent).  They were still made by the original manufacturer as far as I recall, and I bought quite a number of them over several weeks.  I'm not quite sure when it happened, but they suddenly disappeared one day and it was a good few years before I saw them again.

They reappeared in one of my local shops sometime in the mid or late '90s (without the wrappers), and are still available today (they are in Scotland anyway), though usually only in small, independent sweet shops.  (This time round, they come in clear cellophane wrappers with no markings.)  However I believe it's a different manufacturer that now makes them and the quality isn't quite as good.  Whether they're using the original moulds or new ones cast from an actual bar I'm not quite sure, but they look the same as they did in the '60s.  Think I might buy one today - just for old times' sake.

(You'll be happy to hear that I'm not going to make a joke about having a monster in my trousers when I had an MB Bar in my pocket, because that would just be crass, wouldn't it?  Snigger!)

Sunday, 20 August 2017


ABIGAIL RATCHFORD is being stalked
by The GREEN LANTERN, so she's taken to
wearing a yellow bikini to ward off the ring-bear-
ing superhero, whose power is ineffective against
anything coloured yellow.  Might've been better
with something a little less revealing, luv.


It's good news for Lionel Hancock, a 'Crivens!' reader who was looking for the instalment of The LEGEND TESTERS from SMASH! #20.  I knew I had the comic in my bound ODHAMS file volumes (which I wouldn't be able to scan without risk of damaging the spine), but couldn't remember if I had an individual issue.  Turns out I did, after emptying a cupboard to check, so here it is, LH - all yours.  Click on the images to enlarge, then click again for optimum size.  Then left-click and use the 'save as' facility to store them in your computer.

You know, there are some comics bloggers who refuse to help out others who are looking for a favourite strip from childhood.  It's their comic, they say, which they paid for, so if someone else wants an image from it, let them buy their own copy!  This conveniently overlooks the fact that not all old comics are readily available, and even ones that are, the prices asked for them are not always ones that people feel comfortable paying (or can afford).  It also ignores the fact that, in a lot of cases, they bought their comics years ago when prices were far lower, whereas prices have skyrocketed over the years since they purchased their copies.

Also, those selfish bloggers publish other old strips on their blogs, and some of them are bound to be ones that someone's been looking for.  Therefore, what's the difference if somebody asks for a specific image?  To refuse on the stated grounds is just pure bloody-minded selfishness in my view.  Or posing.  Why not simply say that they don't have time to look through their vast collections for individual comics in order to supply images to the many people who request them?  That wouldn't be a lie, because I certainly couldn't (and wouldn't be prepared to) do that if I were getting deluged by requests for particular strips on a regular basis.

Anyway, LH, happy to be able to help you out on this occasion (but don't get greedy).


How do you condense a 12 year period into a couple of days?  You decide to watch all ROGER MOORE's JAMES BOND movies in a two day film-fest.  I haven't done it yet, but I intend to do so at some stage before I get too much older.  Roger played Bond from 1973 to 1985, which was very nearly half my life up to when he relinquished the role.  Consequently, that 12 year duration seems far longer than a similar period would appear to me today.  For instance, the last 12 years have gone by (wait for it) faster than a fart from The FLASH, so 2005 feels far more recent than it should do.

That 12 years from '73 to '85 saw a lot of changes in my life;  the usual kind that everyone experiences to be sure, but no less memorable on an individual level for all that.  I was a schoolboy for Roger's first two Bond outings, worked in a variety of jobs (with periods of unemployment) for the next four, and was a full-time freelancer for his swan-song.  I was also living in a different house for the last two films.  Friends came and went during that time, the face of my town was transformed (not always for the better) over the period, and world events would require several paragraphs to do them justice.  (Relax, I'll spare you the details.)

The same thing can happen with books, too.  For example, I've bought the hardback volumes of The BROONS and OOR WULLIE every year since the series first came out in 1995 (for '96) - 22 years ago.  Apart from the fact that it doesn't seem anywhere near that far back, it's an odd feeling to see such a short area of shelf space representing 22 years of one's life.  How can 22 years fit into a width of less than two feet?  Ach, well, no use labouring the point, but the fact that the collected acquisitions of a person's entire life could probably be fitted into one room (if it was all boxed and stacked floor to ceiling) testifies to just how insignificant a dent we make in the overall scheme of things.

Anybody else ever ponder such things?  Feel free to contribute your thoughts, theories and philosophies to our comments section.


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

See the above tier from page 10 of the main tale in JOURNEY Into MYSTERY #83?  Of course you do, but read what that STONE MAN From SATURN is saying in the last panel.  "Strange - - a moment ago the sky was clear!  Yet now there is a storm brewing!"  Actually, as you can see in the tier below from page 8, moments before, THOR had been trying out the powers of his hammer and had thunder, lightning and a tornado on the go, so how did they miss that?  (Eh, what's that?  They were in their spaceship listening to The ARCHERS on the radio?  Okay, I'll buy that.)  Seriously though, LARRY LIEBER (who dialogued the tale) slipped up there, but we'll forgive him because it's such a classic origin story.  So JACK's off the hook this time, but there's always tomorrow.

Saturday, 19 August 2017


Twitter - what the hell is it for?  Twits, obviously.  Who the hell's interested in what most of those brain-dead celebrities, politicians, and wannabes have to say?  If it isn't someone who's trying to sell you his latest product, it's some @rsehole (and the two aren't mutually exclusive) who has nothing worth saying, but is determined to inflict his vacuous ideas on you anyway.  That's the problem with social media - it's given a voice to those who aren't worth listening to.

"Huh!  Hark at you with a blog!" I hear you say.  Yeah, but my blog is mainly for me.  See, because of a medical condition, my memory is no longer what it was and my mind is befogged half the time.  I struggle to convey what I'm thinking in a coherent and concise way, which is why my posts sometimes ramble on for ages, and sometimes just a paragraph or two.  It's the same cause in both cases - I just can't gather my thoughts together and say what I want to in the way that I want to say it.  Doing the blog is mental exercise for me, and hopefully helps prevent further deterioration in my ability to focus my thoughts and communicate them.

It's also a means by which I record my memories for posterity - even if I'm the only person who ever reads them.  Increasingly, I find it difficult to recall events, times and dates with the same crystal clarity that I once did.  By writing things down in a blog, I can later refer to what I've written to help me remember something I'm no longer sure about.  Trust me, it works.  It's not the first time I've referred to an old post and been surprised to be reminded of something I'd seemingly forgotten.  That's why there are so many posts about my childhood and teenage years - in effect, these posts are a retrospective diary.

Thing is though, once an audience has developed, you have to 'feed' them.  They come looking for something to read, and I hate to disappoint them (at least until after they've read what I've written).  It's like this:  Every morning I fill three bird feeders in my garden.  If I sleep-in or run out of seed, the birds all line up waiting for their breakfast.  (I've got fat balls - no, I'm not boasting - as well as seed, so they're the best-fed birds in the neighbourhood.)  Just like the birds, I hate to think of you readers waiting for a post when I've got nothing to give you.  That's why, between the (hopefully) satisfying 'feasts', there's (admittedly) also a fair smattering of 'filler', which is intended as a snack to keep you going until the next big 'meal'.

Mainly, however, this blog is for me and serves a purpose.  Twitter, on the other hand... well, given its seemingly most prominent user these days, maybe it should be renamed Twatter.


Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

Remember those ads for FF T-Shirts in
MARVEL mags of the '60s?  Well, thought you
might like to see one, effendis.  Great, eh?

Friday, 18 August 2017


Remember back in July when I mentioned the fact that some people were seriously proposing that JAMES BOND should be played by a woman?  I got the distinct impression that a few readers didn't believe me and thought I was making it up.  No, as you can see from the above clip, there really are thick, vacuous, politically correct people out there, who, in their quest to demolish the natural distinctions between genders, are saying that it's a great idea and should happen.  Remember, they're not talking about a female spy named JANE Bond, but 007 changing genders in order to appease a minority of obsessive nut-jobs who are determined to reshape society according to their tastes and predilictions.  And I'm entirely serious in what I say next - anyone who seriously suggests that James Bond could and should be played by a woman is not quite right in the head and should receive therapy immediately.  (Or at least a good hard kick up the @rse.)

James Bond is a man;  a white, British man.  So that rules out IDRIS ELBA, because, in one of these three prerequisites for the role, he fulfills only two of them.  He's a fine actor, a thoroughly decent human being as far as I know, and if film producers wanted to give him a film series as a spy named HARRY BRAND (or whatever), I'd be very happy for him.  Shades of racism?  Not in the slightest, because if it were ever suggested that JOHN SHAFT be recast as a white guy (or woman), I'd be equally against it.  Respect for the intentions of a character's creator is what I'm calling for here.

IAN FLEMING created Bond as a white, British (half-Scottish actually, though that was a later development) heterosexual man, which automatically rules out any other ethnicity, gender, or sexual persuasion.  Whenever I hear some minor, mystery celebrity (like LORRAINE KELLY - the mystery being why she's a celebrity) witter on about Idris Elba being an ideal James Bond, it tells me that they just don't understand what Bond is about.  I also suspect they're more interested in raising their profiles by portraying themselves as 'liberal, fair-minded, tolerant, non-bigoted, impartial, warm, wonderful human beings', with the implication being that anyone who doesn't see things as they do is the exact opposite.

However, there are shades of racism and misandry in the ridiculous assertions of those people calling for such changes.  When someone says that a role established as a particular gender (man) and of a particular ethnicity (white) should be changed, they're essentially saying that there are too many white men in movies.  That strikes me as springing from a standpoint of reverse racism and misandry, and there'd be a hell of a stushie if the role of NELSON MANDELLA had been given to JASON STRATHAM.  What's that?  Not the same at all, because Nelson Mandella is a real, historical figure?  Okay then, if the roles of T'CHALLA, The BLACK PANTHER, or LUKE CAGE, POWER MAN were given to white actors.  The principle is the same in either case.

In one sense though, I can see their point.  Wouldn't it be nice if we were all colour blind and didn't define a person according to the hue of their skin?  Yeah, but not to the extent of pretending that those differences don't exist.  And remember, it cuts both ways:  if you hear someone lamenting the fact that there are too many white actors on TV and in film (or at the OSCARS), think about how offensive it would sound if someone in the audience of PORGY and BESS were to say there were too many black actors on stage.  That would be considered racist, and the exact same standard should be applied in reverse.  (After all, that's true equality.)  By all means let's have more roles for ethnic actors and women (if that's what the market requires), but not at the expense of changing established characters into a different gender or colour.  Personally speaking, I'm sick of actors bleating on about how there should be more parts for (fill in as applicable), as if the profession automatically owes them a living just because they've decided on it as a career.  

The 'diversity' principle likely sprang from well-intentioned motives, but it's been hijacked by zealots with a skewed perception of reality who want to impose their views on the rest of us.  Similarly, 'positive discrimination' was implemented in order to address a perceived imbalance, but missed an important point in the process, which is this:  If you're positively discriminating in favour of one gender or ethnicity, you're negatively discriminating against another (or others).  In just what way is replacing one perceived wrong with another of the same type a good thing?  Or does the end justify the means?

Anyway, that's how I see things, what about you?  Feel free to express yourself in the comments section.  But first, watch this trailer...


ALEX KINGSTON just walked by, pretend-
ing not to notice me.  However, women can never
maintain the pretence for long, and she won't be able
to resist stealing a look at my manly physique.  Any
second now - 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 - bingo!  See, told
you - she turned around.  Caught you, Alex.


The Nicholas Brothers and Gene Kelly dance
their socks off, to a song that seems a little incongruous
in a film about pirates, but the dancing is impressive.


(And you're right - the tune does sound the same as
'Make 'em Laugh' from Singing In The Rain.)


In previous posts I've bored you all rigid with ponderous ponderings on the nature of time, as well as rambling reminiscences of my childhood and how I've never been quite able to comprehend how I went to bed one night as a teenager and woke up what seems like the very next day as the grumpy curmudgeon I am now.  Well, the bad news is that it's more of the same, I'm afraid.

As a child I was always looking backward.  When I moved from the first house I remember (but not the first I lived in), I made little pilgrimages to my old street to look at my former abode and derive some comfort from the familiarity of its presence.  What's odd about this over-developed sense of nostalgia is that I only lived three or four minutes away and was a mere five and a half years old.  Wow!  Not even six and already hankering after the 'good old days'.

This compulsion to revisit the past has been a prominent feature of my personality all through my life to this very day.  I recently added photographs of the views from the windows of my previous houses to my screensaver facility so that I can again gaze on familiar scenes whenever the mood takes me.  At the click of a key I can re-experience any one of several landscapes that once met me when I drew back the curtains in the morning at various stages in my life.

However, there was one particular house (the third after the aforementioned ones above) I lived in for several years that I didn't miss 'til over a dozen years after moving out (and two houses down the line) and I've often wondered as to the reasons for this 'delayed reaction'.  If you're interested (or aren't currently engaged in watching paint dry), feel free to join me as I explore the possible explanation for the curious complexity which has puzzled me for many a long year.

When I moved from the house in question (back in 1972), my life still revolved to a great degree around the neighbourhood it was situated in.  I continued to attend the school just across the road from it for another two and a half years.  I still went to Summer and Christmas fayres in the church at the top of the street, and my mother dutifully trotted along to the Sunday services every week, even though there was another congregation of the same denomination just around the corner from our new home.  (In fact, it was from this group that the one my mother went to had sprung.)  My friends all lived near or around my old domicile and I continued to frequent the area for quite a few years after.

It wasn't unusual for me to come home from school (and later, work), have my tea, and then return to my previous neighbourhood to hang about the local shopping centre (about thirty seconds away from my old front door) with my pals.  Perhaps that explains why I wasn't consumed with the same rabid pangs of nostalgia I nursed for previous houses;  I saw it so often that I simply never had a chance to miss it.  The ambiance of the house was preserved in our new home by the presence of the same furniture we'd had in every place we'd ever lived in - plus, our new house was similar in many respects to the first one I remembered, hence it conjured up a feeling of familiarity that pre-dated the dwelling we had just recently vacated.

It wasn't until we had again moved house (in 1983) and were ensconced in yet another new residence that I gradually started to miss the one we had quit way back in 1972.  What's strange about this was that I was simultaneously wallowing in nostalgic notions for the homestead we had just left (to say nothing of the ones which preceded them both), so it certainly can't be denied that I was spoilt for choice when it came to such sentimental self-indulgence.  Maybe I'm just greedy?

Perhaps another reason I only started to miss this particular house when I did had something to do with running into an old classmate from primary school in the neighbourhood shops across from my old home in 1984 or '85.   ALEX LOWE by name, and as fine and decent a bloke as you could ever hope to meet.  We exchanged greetings, enquired after one another's well-being, and then Alex asked:  "Are you still living across the road?", nodding in the direction of my previous abode.  He was surprised to learn that I'd moved away about twelve or thirteen years earlier, and it made me wonder how many other people I knew still thought I lived in a place I'd left almost half my life away at that point.

Talking of Alex (and veering wildly off topic), I hope he won't mind me recounting that he once appeared in our secondary school play as a fairy, uttering the immortal lines:  "I'm a fairy, bright and gay, helping others every day!"  I don't recall anything else about that play, but Alex's turn got such a huge laugh on the night that everyone remembered it - and constantly quoted the lines back to him in lisping, falsetto voice over the course of the next few terms.  (I know I did, little bastich that I was.)  He always took it in good humour, being the fine fellow he is.

I'd planned to expand the scope of this topic and try and explore (in an epic exercise in tedium) wider themes than I actually have.  For example, what it is that draws us to our past and connects us to where we came from, and whether or not it has any bearing on the direction we take in life.  Can a house in which we once stayed shape our perceptions of ourselves, or would we be precisely the same as we are regardless of the bricks and mortar which shield us from the elements?  However, the realisation has now dawned on me that it's simply too big a concept to concisely and competently capture within the confines of a blog post - in an interesting and entertaining way, at least.

I'll have to content myself with the hope (slim as it may be) that I may have prompted some readers to indulge in a little quiet contemplation of whatever memories reside within the repositories of their own minds.

Or, failing that, helped cure them of their insomnia.


Images copyright DC COMICS

Having looked at some of MARVEL's TRUE BELIEVERS mags celebrating what would've been JACK KIRBY's 100th year, it's now time to turn our attention to the Distinguished Competition - DC.  First up is the above NEW GODS Special, followed by a team-up Special of The NEWSBOY LEGION and The BOY COMMANDOS.  Why SIMON & KIRBY never produced such a mag is both a surprise and a mystery - you'd have thought it would be an obvious choice for the duo to do back in the '40s.  Rounding off our trilogy is The SANDMAN Special, though no doubt there'll be other titles to come.  (I'll keep you informed.)  All three issues contain Classic Kirby Bonus Stories, so if you're a Jack Kirby fan, these comics are for you, Melvin!  Pop 'round to your favourite comic shop today and grab 'em while they're going.  (And if you're passing GREGGS, jump in and treat yourself to one [or two even - why hold back?] of their famous Steak Bakes.)

Thursday, 17 August 2017


Here you are - proof that YOGI BEAR has Scottish
ancestry.  No wonder I'm fond of him - he's 'Scottisher'
than the average bear, hoots mon, up yer kilt!


Her dad was fond of porridge, but curvy KATE BECKINSALE
is fond of sitting on a cool floor, bare-@rsed.  "It soothes my piles,"
she says.  Well, if it works, it works, but she should try ointment.


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

These TRUE BELIEVERS comics are great, frantic ones.  GROOT features the living tree's first appearance, while the 2nd tale in the mag is the debut of The HULK.  No, not ol' Greenskin as you might imagine, but rather the alien who was later renamed XEMNU The TITAN.  The Cap mag contains two Golden Age CAPTAIN AMERICA tales, plus his retold origin from the '60s, which has long been one of my favourite stories since I first read it in a King-Size Special back in the early '70s.  Well, what are you waiting for?  Rush 'round to your local comicbook store today and buy 'em - if they've any left that is.  These magnificent MARVEL mags are less than a £1 each (between 75-90 pence depending on where you get them), so how can you go wrong? 


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

I've just read (or re-read, to be accurate) BLACK PANTHER #1 and discovered yet another KIRBY 'KOCK-UP'.  Read that introductory caption on the above double-page spread (click on the image to enlarge):  "His hand is stiffened in rigor mortis..."  According to what I've read on the subject (and different sources vary on the exact times), rigor mortis in humans usually starts within a few hours after death (though limbs are still movable), and is fully set after around 12 hours, though there can be variations dependent on room temperature, etc.  However, given the Panther's statement about the wound being "fresh" in the panel below, it couldn't possibly be rigor mortis, something you'd think Jack would've known.  But does it even matter, you ask.  Well, it does if you're looking for regular posts to read on this blog, effendis.  Okay, time for me to earn a No-Prize.  Residual energy from the brass frog's time travelling powers speeded up the body's decomposition, bringing on rigor mortis quicker than usual.  There!  Happy?  

You're right, T'CHALLA - it was inflicted only moments before.
That's why it couldn't be rigor mortis - until I gave you an 'out'


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Another two TRUE BELIEVERS issues for you, frantic ones.  I still have the original comics I bought back in the mid-'70s, so I'll have to dig them out and compare them for my own amusement when I have the time. The ETERNALS was (sort of) MARVEL's answer to DC's NEW GODS, and it lasted 8 issues and an Annual longer than its competitor's 11 ish run, both series, of course, being by the same creator - JACK (King) KIRBY.  More covers in this current series of reprints coming soon!  Available from wherever great comicbooks are sold.   

This series was originally called RETURN OF THE GODS, and an
ad with that title on the cover appeared in various Marvel comics


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

If you're too young (or weren't around) to have experienced the MARVEL AGE firsthand, then here's a fantastic opporchancity to catch up on some of the best bits.  Mighty Marvel are currently issuing reprints of various KIRBY KLASSICS in handsome single issue format in the countdown to what would've been his 100th birthday on August 28th.  I'll be showing more covers shortly, but to start the ball rolling, here's a couple of THOR comics for you to paste your peepers 'pon - ol Goldilock's origin (as well as the first appearance of LOKI), and his pulse-pounding pummel-fest with The HULK.  What're you waiting for pilgrim - grab 'em today!  (You'll be sorry if you don't!)    

Wednesday, 16 August 2017


Here's the lovely IMOGEN HASSALL - just seconds before
she grabbed her guitar and started serenading me with a song.  If
I only knew why I'm so irresistible to women, I'd sell the secret to
 all you ordinary-looking guys out there and make a fortune.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017


Let me ask you something.  Are you a JIM REEVES fan?  No?  Then what the hell's wrong with you, Melvin?  Get with the programme.  One of the top ten best-selling singers of all time, with a voice like velvet, his albums are still being issued today, 53 years after he died in a 'plane crash.  Only a few short years ago, his 'Best Of' album was number 7 in the British charts.  If you are a fan, then you know all that already, but what you may not know is that BGO Records have reissued eight albums on two sets of double CDs.  If you buy them in HMV, they'll cost you £12.99 each - but if you order them direct from BGO, they only cost £9.99 each - post free.  If you've got a few gaps in your JR collection, then now's the time to fill them.  You can visit the BGO site by clicking on this link which I've thoughtfully provided for you: - and it's not just Jim's albums they sell, but also a variety of other artists as well.  Pay it a visit today.


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

JACK KIRBY, bless his little cotton socks, wasn't entirely consistent from page-to-page (or even panel-to-panel) when drawing the spectacular comicbooks for which he's so justly famed.  Now and again, a little visual error would creep into his pulsating panels, and that fact is what this little series of mine is based on.  Today's entry concerns FANTASTIC FOUR #8, wherein the cosmic quartet battle The PUPPET MASTER.  Foiling a jail break, The THING swings into action, and although he's hitherto been barefoot throughout the story (except when he's in his civvies), in the last panel of page 18, he suddenly sprouts a pair of boots.  The colourist has rendered them orange in order to disguise them, and they disappear again on the next page (below), but there's no denying that Jack slipped up here.  A trivial 'KOCK-UP' to be sure, but if I didn't point it out, this blog would have nothing to offer you at this precise moment.

Monday, 14 August 2017


Behold!  A battered 1963 edition of a 1959 book that I read around 1972 or '73.  I no longer recall where it came from; whether it was bought by my father or brother, or whether I got it from a jumble sale, but I remember taking it into secondary school one day to read during the breaks.  At some stage afterwards, at home, it got spattered with paint flecks when some decorating was in progress, and it lost a corner (which I replaced), but it's held up pretty well for a 54 year old paperback.  Regular commenter JP mentioned horror books recently, and I said I'd dig this copy out and post it on the blog - consider it done, JP.  Now I might actually re-read it after going to the effort of emptying half a cupboard to find it. 

And below, after hours of painstaking work, is a digitally cleaned up presentation of the cover.  I don't think I'll bother doing the same with the back cover - not for a good while at least.  Far too time-consuming.  Must confess though, I did a good job - even if I say so myself.


Our hut overlooked the beach from the top of a cliff, so this
photo may well have been taken from near where we stayed

Memories.  It must've (don't you find yourself irked when ignorant people write or say "must of"?) been in the summer of 1966 that my family holidayed in Kinghorn.  We stayed in what can only be described as a hut, though not of the common or garden shed variety.  No, it was a holiday hut, which accommodated all the mod-cons of the age.  It belonged to my paternal grandmother, and I recall a small (3 inches high perhaps) stone grey bust of Churchill (not the dog) sitting atop a dressing table in the bedroom.  I don't know for how long she'd owned this hut, or exactly when she relinquished ownership of it, but the last time I remember visiting her in her ground floor flat back home was in January 1973, and I was surprised to see that same small grey bust of Churchill there.  It had only been 7 years since I'd first and last laid eyes on it, but as I'd not long turned 14, that was half my life away and seemed an inordinately long time ago.

Nope, dunno who the guy is, but our hut was vaguely similar to the
one in the background of this picture.  Our hut sat among quite a few,
though there were none in front of ours, so we had a view of the sea

I remember that holiday in Kinghorn for other reasons also.  That was where (I think) my brother bought his Man From U.N.C.L.E. invisible ink pen, and where I got a Marx Rolykin Dalek and a Marx wind-up robot.  I also found a lead 'disc' (a bit larger than a crown) on the beach, and assumed it to be some form of ancient coin.  It had a cross etched into it, and I recall being disappointed several years later to find my father had sawn it in two to use one half as a weight for an ornament in his tropical fish tank.  Who knows - it might've been worth a small fortune.  Another thing I recall from Kinghorn was hearing Chim-chim-Cheree from Mary Poppins being played on a neighbour's radio as I sat outside our hut.  I doubt if I knew of the movie at the time, but whenever I see it now and hear that song, I'm back in Kinghorn faster than a fart from The Flash.  (Yes, I've got my very own catchphrase.)

The one I bought on holiday was blue with grey legs.
The arms were either red or grey, can't quite remember.
It was also a slightly larger model than this version, but
exactly the same in every other detail

Up at the top of a slight hill away from the group of holiday huts, sat a little wooden newsagent's kiosk.  I remember being in there once and taking a quick look through some comics as I tried to find one I might like.  In one comic was a strip called Old McDonald's Farm, and I recalled forever-after the verse at the top of the page - 'Old MacDonald had a farm, ee-i-ee-i-oh.  And on that farm he had some ducks - read about them below!'  (To be absolutely truthful, I no longer remember if it was ducks, pigs, or hens, but I never forgot the rest of it.)  Research tells me that the comic was Bimbo, and it was many years later that I discovered the rhyming intro was a recurring feature of the strip, week after week, and not a one-off as I'd have subconsciously assumed.  It was on this holiday, I believe (or maybe the previous one, in Rothesay), that my father made an ashtray from shells found on the beach, which he then painted with those glass-phial Humbrol paints (remember them?).  I've never smoked, but that ashtray still sits in my living-room today. 

Could this have been the very comic I looked
through?  Who can say for sure?

I also recollect that my father found an injured sparrow, which we put in a cardboard box back at the hut.  I remember checking on it from time to time, but, strangely, I no longer recall its fate. Anyway, one more thing before you return to your lives in search of real adventure.  I stubbed one of my small toes getting out of bed to go to the toilet (or check on the sparrow) one night, and I've had a problem with the nail on that toe to this day.  Nothing major, but it just doesn't seem to grow the same as the one on the other foot.  Every time I'm cutting my toenails, when I get to that one, I invariably think of Kinghorn again.  As far as I know, I was only ever there once, so it's kind of funny how I've never quite forgotten the place (or that bust of Winston).

Not the same bust, but similar

Any holidays you remember with fondness to the present day?  Then don't be selfish - share your memories with the rest of us.        

Sunday, 13 August 2017


LINDA THORSON - looking lovely.  What more
could any man ask for?  Apart from her 'phone num-
ber and a date.  (Don't get any ideas - it's me she's
looking at, and don't you forget it, Charlie!)
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