Tuesday 31 December 2013


Copyright relevant owner

Never having been an imbiber of alcohol in my life, Hogmanay is not something I particularly look forward to, except to see the back of it as quickly as possible and have everything return to normal.  More drinking, more arguing, more fall-outs and more fighting seem to be the order of the day at this time of year than at any other, and I'm hard-pushed to see why so many people anticipate the occasion with such enthusiasm.

Personally, I'll be in my bed well before the bells, but for those of you who'll be partying long into the early hours and think I'm a right ol' misery-guts, just remember that your neighbours, elderly or otherwise, may be trying to get some much needed sleep, so it wouldn't hurt to show a little consideration for those who prefer a bit of peace and quiet.

Anyway, having nailed my colours to the mast as a grumpy ol' killjoy, let me wish all of you a Happy (and considerate) New Year.  See you in 2014 when your hangovers have worn off.

 Oh, and one more thing - "Bah, humbug!" 

Monday 30 December 2013


Copyright relevant owner

I remember it well.  The TV CENTURY 21 ANNUAL for 1966 - loads of them, filling a square, metal wire stand on the ground floor of KRAZY KUTS in my home town, in August or September of 1965.  I was living in one house when I first saw the annual, and another by the time I got it for Christmas that year.  I therefore associate it with both houses, but mainly (perhaps) with the second one, as that was the one I was living in when I actually got my grubby hands on the book.  I also remember wishing my life away for it with the careless indifference that only a child can afford.

It all seems rather tame stuff in comparison with today's comics and annuals, but, at the time, it was the annual to have in 1965, as it represented the top-selling weekly comic of the day (which sounds like a contradiction-in-terms, but you know what I mean).  THUNDERBIRDS was on TV by the time I obtained the annual, but it had been prepared for publication before the latest GERRY ANDERSON sensation had made its debut, so STINGRAY was the book's main feature, appearing in two strips and featuring prominently on the cover.

Here, then, is the first of them - if you want to see more, be sure to let me know in the comments section.  Same goes if you'd like to share with the rest of us your own personal reminiscences associated with this classic annual from yesteryear.


I was out in the back garden the other afternoon when I heard a rustling in the undergrowth at the side of the house.  Thinking it was a fox, I froze, hoping to see Reynard in all his furry glory - but surprise, surprise, 'twas no fox but rather a DALEK peeping cautiously from the foliage.  My mistake for tossing some old iron nails into the bushes when I replaced them in the back gate last week, but I hardly expected a Dalek to be foraging for metal scraps in my back garden.  No doubt his spaceship was concealed nearby (it's a big garden) and he was looking for parts with which to effect a minor repair, so I just let him get on with it.  Luckily I was able to surreptitiously snap a few photos with my concealed lapel camera before going back inside, 'cos I know what a disbelieving lot some of you can be.  He might still be out there for all I know.

What's that you say, nurse?  Time for my medicine?  Who are you calling a little pr*ck?  Oh, you mean the injection?  Okay, fire away.

See you all again when I wake up and they take off these long-sleeved pyjamas they're fitting me with.  Flubble!

Sunday 29 December 2013


As CAPTAIN SCARLET stares off into the distance in the best LITTLEWOODS catalogue tradition (at least he's not in his underpants), my mind turns back to the late 1960s when the above EP was part of my family's pooled (and eclectic) record collection.  Whenever I listen to a CD I now own of this particular mini-album (I have the original vinyl as well), I'm once again lying on the floor in front of our ancient cabinet unit containing a record player, with an assortment of 45 rpm singles scattered all over the carpet.

Funny how certain sights, sounds and smells can transport one back to a different era, allowing one to relive earlier, long-gone moments from the past as if they were only yesterday.  Funny but warmly reassuring, and I wouldn't have it any other way.  What memories spring to the minds of the rest of you upon sight of this collectable from yesteryear?  Did you have it yourself?  Feel free to share your recollections in our scintillating comments section.

Incidentally, the audio soundtrack of this and other mini-albums are included as extras in the Complete Captain Scarlet DVD collection.


Below, especially for McSCOTTY, is a picture of the PEDIGREE bendy Captain Scarlet figure mentioned in the comments section.  One sold on eBay in October of 2012 for £285.  In the other photo (from 1968), I'm holding the Scarlet figure in my left hand, while sitting on my lap is a STEVE ZODIAC and ZOONY on a friction-drive jetmobile, manufactured by GOLDEN GATE.  (I no longer have my original, but now own a replacement acquired many years ago.)

Friday 27 December 2013


Copyright relevant owner

I never really read ARCHIE comics (apart from when he teamed-up with The PUNISHER), but I was aware of them.  A goodly number of years back, there was a bunch of them on sale in a local Glasgow comicbook store so I bought 'em, mainly because they reminded me of an earlier era.  Still haven't read 'em of course, but maybe one day I'll get around to it.  Archie first appeared in PEP COMICS in 1941, published by MLJ.  There seems to be contention as to who created him, some sources claiming it was publisher JOHN L. GOLDWATER and others that it was BOB MONTANA, though perhaps they were co-creators in the best STAN LEE/JACK KIRBY tradition. 

Anyway, I thought you might enjoy seeing some examples of when comicbooks were actually comic-books, so feast your eyes on these colourful covers, o dedicated seekers after truth.

Thursday 26 December 2013


Copyright BBC TV

For all those who enjoyed the TV programme about how WILLIAM HARTNELL became the very first DOCTOR WHO, it's now available on DVD.  So, if you have any belated Christmas gifts still to buy for any fans of the TIME LORD, your problem is solved!

Anyone else like to see actor DAVID BRADLEY appear in a few TV specials, relating untold tales of Hartnell's Doctor? I know I certainly would.  Let's hope STEVEN MOFFAT reads this blog (unlikely though it is).

Wednesday 25 December 2013



Funny how things never really change, eh?  (Having said that, I reserve the right to completely contradict myself in a future post.)  In the 1960s, I was reading The FANTASTIC FOUR in WHAM! and BATMAN in SMASH! (and watching his show on TV), as well as playing the Caped Crusader in my homemade Batman suit while running around the neighbourhood with my pal JOHN FIDLER as ROBIN, The BOY WONDER.  (No need to wonder - he was a real boy!  And you can read about those childhood escapades here.)

So what did I treat myself to for Christmas this year?  The JOHN BYRNE FF OMNIBUS Volume 2 and an ADAM WEST poseable Batman figure.  Funny how many of my interests are exactly the same today as they were when I was a child - or is it?  Adults I know who still drink furtively in underpasses did the same thing as teenagers (or younger).  A large number of people tend to perpetuate the pursuits of their youth, so, if you've got kids, perhaps the best gift you can bestow upon them is to help them cultivate an interest in worthwhile pastimes for the future.

You know it makes sense.  Sermon over - Merry Christmas.

Copyright DC COMICS


Copyright D.C. THOMSON & Co., Ltd

For those of you kind enough to make time for a visit to this humble blog on a day which offers so many delights and distractions, the above cover is specially for you!  May all my regular readers (even those without Google accounts who don't comment any more) have a great Christmas and an even greater 2014.

Tuesday 24 December 2013


Image copyright D.C. THOMSON & Co., Ltd

And another cracking Christmas cover in the Crivens' countdown to the 25th.  Isn't it an atmospheric beauty?  C'mon now, who all misses SPARKY and wishes it was still around?  Hands up!  One, two, three, four, five, six, seven... ulp - far too many to count!

Monday 23 December 2013


Copyright BBC TV

Since doing my previous two posts on the BLUE PETER BOOKS, I've acquired a few more to round off my collection so thought I'd share them with you here.  I was never what you'd call a regular viewer of the programme even if I saw enough of them for it to seem so in memory, but I have a fond affection for the show as it represents part of my childhood and teenage years.

I only caught the occasional episode after LESLEY JUDD departed in 1979, but again, it seems in retrospect that I saw more of them than I actually did, and I must confess to fancying JANET ELLIS (didn't everyone?) when she joined in 1983.  The Twentieth Book was published in the 25th Anniversary of the show, and I've had a softcover copy of the book for quite a few years now, which seemed a bit of an anomaly as the others were in hardback.  I've since discovered that it was a second edition printed by Scholastic Publications, so I assume it was printed for schools.  (I've recently obtained a first-print hardback edition as well.)

I now have Books one to twenty, which represents the first twenty-five years of the programme, and I'll soon have Book forty, which was the last one ever published in 2011.  The only other one I have is Book twenty-eight, published in 1998 to celebrate forty years of Blue Peter.  (Oh, and I've got a Blue Peter stamp album as well.)

"Why not collect them all?" you may well be wondering.  Simply because they mean nothing to me.  The only Blue Peter programmes I've watched in many a year are the Anniversary shows - and that was only to see the presenters from the past who I grew up watching.  Maybe one day I'll add the few remaining ones published in Anniversary years, but it's not at the top of my 'things to do' list.  Time will tell, I guess.



Zara circa December 1987

I was in the back garden filling my bird feeders the other day (as I do every day) and, coming in through the porch door, I spied scratches in the paintwork on the lower part of the exterior of the kitchen door in front of me.  I'd seen them before, naturally (many times), but so used to them am I now that they don't really register with me anymore, so why they did on this occasion I'm not quite sure.

The scratches had been caused by not just one dog, but three.  First, PRINCE, a mongrel we'd owned back in the early '70s that looked almost like a 'miniature' German Shepherd; then TARA, an actual German Shepherd we owned from around the mid-'70s to 1986.  Finally, ZARA (another German Shepherd), who I'd bought to replace Tara when her time had come to an end earlier in the same year.

Zara circa 1987

What's interesting though, is that we'd moved away from this house in 1983, when Tara was eight and a half years old.  Tara died three years later, which is when I got Zara - and a year after that we moved back to our previous house (as regular readers will be tired of reading).

So what's interesting about that?  Well, the back door of that other house likewise has scratches from both Tara and Zara (made when they were seeking re-entry after being out in the garden 'watering' the plants), so both houses bear the marks of the same two dogs, but, in the case of this house, made with a four year gap between them.

It had occurred to me a few years back to fill in the scratches, but now I don't think I'll ever bother.  It's somehow oddly reassuring to see the 'footprints' of our three dogs still there after all this time (Zara died fifteen years ago), as fresh as when they were first made.  It's as if Prince, Tara and Zara are still around in some way.

Tara circa 1984

In fact, sometimes, when the wind is howling late at night, I seem to hear scratching at the back door and a muffled whining, as if something is seeking shelter from the elements.  My first thought, of course, is that my ears are playing tricks on me, but then my curiosity kicks in and I make my way through to the kitchen to check things out.

Whenever I open wide the door, however, only the inky blackness of the night beyond stares back at me - but the unmistakable smell of doggie fur hangs in the midnight air, as if I've only just missed a canine visitor or three wishing to remind me that their spirits yet linger out in the garden in case I should ever forget them. 

Never, my doggie pals - never.


Finally managed to find some pictures of Prince.  The original photos bear the printed date of July 1974 in the margins, but whether this is when they were taken or developed, I'm unsure.  If the latter, there wouldn't be much of a gap between the two occasions.  Alas, poor Prince.  We only had him for about a year-and-a-half.  In fact, as I've only got three photos of him, I might as well show them all here.

Sunday 22 December 2013


Image copyright D.C. THOMSON & Co., Ltd

For no other reason than it's getting near Christmas, here's a nice Seasonal scene from the 1973 Yuletide issue of SPARKY, as drawn by the late, great, BILL RITCHIE. I humbly suggest that it'd be a great idea for D. C. THOMSON's to utilise such Festive cover illustrations in a series of Christmas cards and add a few coppers to their coffers.  Remember, you read it here first!!!

Saturday 21 December 2013


You're looking at a floor tile from the assembly/dining/gym hall of my old primary school, which I acquired only yesterday.  Below is my local newspaper's report on the story behind these mementos being made available.  I'm fair-chuffed to have yet another tangible reminder of my soon-to-be demolished old school, especially this particular tile, #50 - representing the school's 50th year.)
Mementos: Shona Kinloch with daughter Kate and Margaret Gilbertson with Molly

Thursday 19 December 2013


Copyright relevant owner

Continuing our series on the late DENIS GIFFORD's four issue magazine from the 1970s, here's #3 of ALLY SLOPER, which I'd say is rather an apt choice in the run-up to Christmas.  A new, one page FRANK HAMPSON strip was included, but that profile shot in the second panel demonstrates an odd weakness of Hampson's that was evident even in his earlier DAN DARE work.  Everything else on the page looks like it was modelled for - except that profile shot - which may have been posed for, but just doesn't look it.  (The head seems too thin to me.)

Regarding the LEO BAXENDALE page supposedly drawn specially for Ally Sloper - it could well have been, and Leo then decided to use it in one of his WILLY THE KID books.  However, there is another possibility, which is that Denis was perhaps indulging in a bit of hyperbole and Leo had actually drawn it for Willy and merely let Denis use it.  I'd imagine that Bax would've been far too busy devoting himself to Willy strips to produce free pages for anyone else, but that may just be the cynic in me talking.

Anyway, enjoy the selection of contents from issue #3 from 37 years ago.  Scary when you think about it, eh?

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