Tuesday, 31 January 2012


Alan Fennell and unidentified Thunderbirds pilot. Photo by Roger Elliott

No, that doesn't mean there's another ALAN FENNELL (well, not any
who concern us), only that there's another story about the legendary writer
and editor to tell, which I promised to relate a good many months ago.

During the course of one of several telephone conversations I had with
Alan (may even have been the first one) in the mid-'90s, he mentioned
that he used to come to my home town in the '60s to a tenpin bowling alley
situated just along the road from where I then lived. (In fact, my father
used to work there, although I can't remember if he still did in 1965.)

Apparently, Alan's wife had friends or relatives in Scotland and, when-
ever they visited them, they would take the opportunity to come along to
the bowling alley in question. This led me to wonder aloud to Alan about
the following 'what if?' scenario, which perhaps isn't as far-fetched
or as unlikely as it may at first seem.
The actual bowling alley
Basically, I speculated on the
possibility of Alan ever having
passed me in his car on the way
to the bowling alley as I made
my way home reading a copy of
TV CENTURY 21, and whether
he might've seen me, turned to his
wife and friends and said: "Look,
that kid's reading my comic." One
of the main roads to the bowling alley went right past the bottom of my
street and it was the route to the main shopping centre (where the bowling
alley was situated) along which I'd often have walked. (Not the road
obviously, but the pavement.)

I was much struck by the notion of perhaps having been in such fleeting
close proximity to the editor of my then-favourite comic without ever having
known it, and Alan, being the kind soul that he was, indulged my flight of
fancy by pretending (I assume) to be as fascinated by the idea as I was.

Not long after, Alan dropped me a letter containing a photocopy
of a chocolate Dalek recipe I remembered seeing (and which had
once resided for years in my mother's cookbook) in an early issue
of TV21 (# 28). This is part of what he said in his letter:

Go on - make some. You know you want to
"Take a look at the
photograph above. [The
recipe.] Dear Roy Castle
was one of the nicest people
I have had the privilege to
be associated with - and I
remember this photo set-up
and the lunches we had whilst
promoting the Doctor Who
and the Daleks film.

So, I'm grateful to you for
reminding me of those days -
and even the bowling alley!"

I never met Alan face-to-face
('though he may have passed
me in his car), and I didn't know he had died 'til a year or two after the fact -
but somehow his not being around any more at times fills me with the kind
of sadness that one normally reserves for close friends and relatives.

He really was that nice a man.


For my first Alan Fennell story, click here.


Mr Straightman said...

Roy Castle was the first proper celebrity I ever met. I was seven going on eight. I approached him excitedly with my ever-present drawing pad and pen. He leaned close, smiled, put a hand on my shoulder and said...

..."Son, you can stick that pen up your *rse and play Swanee River".

Kid said...

Oh, Mr Straightman, you are awful...hee hee.

Ol' Roy was one of the good 'uns.