Monday 30 April 2018


Characters copyright relevant and respective owners

As I was coming back from the main shopping centre in my town this evening, I took the route that was near to the house in which I'd lived when TV CENTURY 21 first came out in 1965 (but dated 2065 remember).  I've often walked along that way in the last few years, and had noticed an elderly man who used to sit in the open doorway of his bungalow, listening to his radio and watching the world go by.  We nodded to one another on two or three occasions as I passed, but never spoke a word other than a brief "A'right" in the few scant seconds our gaze connected on my circuitous way home.  I'd even started to keep an eye out for him whenever I was in the area, so that I could swap 'nods' with him in case my acknowledgement of his presence was the only interaction he had with another person in his long and lonely day.  It would've bothered me if, while lost in thought, I'd forgotten to glance at his doorway and thereby inadvertently ignored him on my way past.  What if he looked at me in anticipation, expecting a nod that never came?  

Tonight his door was closed, and several items of household furniture and appliances lay scattered on his small lawn and footpath.  A fireplace, washing machine, tumble dryer (or small fridge), several odds'n'ends - and his wheelchair.  That tends to suggest he's passed away, rather than gone into an old folks home, and although I didn't know the man or anything about him, I felt kind of sad that another light had apparently gone out in the world.  I couldn't help but wonder what his interests or hobbies had been, what he'd done with his life, and whether he'd owned anything that he'd wish to be preserved or passed on, rather than thrown in a skip or given to a charity shop.

For all I know, he could have been an ardent comics collector with a full set of the original EAGLE, and maybe even, as a young adult, collected TV21 because it had been cast in Eagle's mould.  Now perhaps his collection lay in bin bags, or had been given to grandchildren or nieces and nephews, who would read these prized gems with no regard for their condition and then casually, callously, discard them afterwards.  Whenever I'm in the area in the future, I'll probably find myself automatically preparing to nod to him as I walk by his bungalow, before remembering that he's no longer there.  Which means, I suppose, that in some kind of ironic way, he'll always be sitting in that doorway - at least in my mind.  It also made me think of what lay ahead of me in my own future, and whether I'll likewise be an old man on my lonesome, worrying about what's going to happen to my collection of comics and toys when I die.  A sobering thought indeed.

(Update: I've since learned that the gentleman's name was MATT, and that he'd once been a banker.  A neighbour told me he was cheated out of his life savings by his girlfriend, but I don't know at what stage in his life that happened.  He has indeed passed on, so let's hope he's now at peace in a better place.)

And so, because I was thinking of TV21, and having just recently acquired the last two Annuals I needed (1969 & '70) to complete the set of eight, I thought I'd display them here.  As you can see, the last three come from a time when the comic was completely different to what it had started out as.  Despite what it says on the cover of the 1971 book, JOE 90 doesn't appear inside - nor does any other strip based on a GERRY ANDERSON puppet programme.  The comic had taken the nation by storm, but was barely a feeble puff by the time it finally breathed its last in the early '70s.  And thus do the mighty fall into ruin - as, also, must we who look at the stars while lying in the gutter, hoping for an immortality that may not exist and therefore may never inherit.

Enjoy the covers.

Y'know, it's hard to believe that there were a mere eight Annuals in total over a period of seven years - and that only the first five of them were in the style of the TV21 weekly as it had been when first released.  Back then, the comic seemed to have been around forever, yet five slim volumes on a bookshelf are all there is to represent its yearly output, in what seemed like an eternity at the time.  Funny that.  The remaining three Annuals spring from an entirely different style of comic altogether, the same in name only.

Sunday 29 April 2018


Some of you might not know of my other Blog, which you can access my clicking here.  It currently features a new post, published earlier today.  Check it out.

What's that?  What's with DIANA RIGG?  Well, you know her - always trying to push her way into things, the glory hog.  (Looks like she's just ran into a glass pane.)

Wednesday 25 April 2018


Oh, you lucky peeps.  Managed to find the time to dash off a quick post - hopefully it's one that you'll think was worthwhile.


A couple of years or so back I was in a shop with someone I know and got to talking about TV shows for kids with the two female shop assistants (who, I guess, were in their 40s).  It was a sort of card/gift shop and there must've been some item or other that kick-started the discussion.  We briefly talked about BAGPUSS and various other shows, and I mentioned HECTOR'S HOUSE, which elicited an interested enquiry from the pair.  As I started to explain, the guy I was with suddenly ejaculated in an exasperated manner "For Pete's sake, Gordie, they're far too young to have ever seen Hector's House!"  I put his remark down to an attempt to ingratiate himself with the women by indulging in a bit of fawning flattery, so I ignored him and calmly continued my discourse.  However, as we were leaving, my companion looked at the duo with an apologetic expression on his kipper and said "Sorry about that!"  I considered his remark patronising (to the women) in the extreme, and insulting to me, so I said to them "Well, you've heard of Bagpuss - he's Sourpuss!"  (I presume their rejoining laughter indicated their agreement.)  As you may have gathered, I wasn't best-pleased with his obnoxious attitude.

Now, here's an interesting fact.  Bagpuss was first screened in 1974 and Hector's House, though first broadcast in Britain in 1968, was still being regularly repeated by the BBC up until at least 1975.  Both shows are readily available on DVD and YouTube, and have most likely been shown at various times on TV over the years.  Many parents purchase DVDs of old TV shows for their kids, whether they actually watched them themselves when young or not.  My point being that those two women were just as likely to have seen - or not seen - one show as the other.  Going by the logic of my companion, I shouldn't have heard of, never mind seen, FRANKENSTEIN, which was made in 1931, or DOUBLE INDEMNITY, made in 1944 - or anything else that was issued prior to my arrival in the world.  You see the flaw in his thinking?  To assume that because someone wasn't born when a movie or TV show was first shown means they can't possibly have heard of it, is extremely condescending - and blinkered.

On another occasion we were in a comics shop and, during my enquiry to an assistant (the manager actually) about a publication with some DALEKS strips, I referred to TV CENTURY 21.  "Gordie, he wasn't even born then, so there's no point going on with that!" this same fellow interjected.  I ignored him and continued, "TV21 was a comic in the '60s that published comic strips based on GERRY ANDERSON puppet shows."  My way, the guy learned a snippet of information that may prove useful in dealing with future enquiries from others, the other guy's way, he remains ignorant and clueless about a landmark in British comics publishing.  That's assuming that he hadn't actually heard of TV21 of course; the fact is, it's unlikely, because the shop sold various books reprinting strips from the comic and he's bound to have seen the name at one time or another.  (Granted, whether it made any impression on him or not is a different matter.)

If you pay people the compliment of assuming that they're at least as informed as you are on a subject, they may (and fairly often do) live up to your expectations - if not, they'll soon let you know and you can then take the opportunity to bring them 'up to speed'.  The point is, knowledge is for sharing.  If you share your knowledge, you enlighten others; if you assume that everyone else is mired in ignorance and keep your knowledge to yourself, then if that's how they are, that's how they'll remain.  Don't know about you, but I know which approach I prefer.             

Sunday 22 April 2018


If you say the magic word,
SALMA's cover will drop away
as if by, er, magic.  I'll give you all
a clue to start you off - the word
definitely isn't "SHAZAM!"

Thursday 19 April 2018


Just time for a quick post to show off a couple of recent eBay acquisitions - two of the four little plastic THUNDERBIRDS craft given away free (and separately) with KELLOGG'S SUGAR SMACKS in the '60s.  Had them back in the day, have them once more -  I'm a very happy chappie.  (I'll no doubt track down the other two some day.)  Bring back any memories for anyone?  Feel free to share with your fellow Criv-ites.

Wednesday 11 April 2018


Tonight, as I luxuriated in the refreshed familiarity of my bedroom, a sudden thought occurred to me.  (You shouldn't find that surprising by the way - thoughts very often occur to me.)  That in turn led to another thought - see?  It can be habit-forming - which was this:

Imagine we're living in a world where technology is more advanced that it currently is.  Imagine also that you're 14, and come home from school one day to find a forlorn-faced relative who informs you that your parents have just been killed in an accident.  Well, obviously you'd be devastated, and to those who have actually suffered such a tragedy, I hope you won't find the following scenario too disturbing.

Now imagine that some official comes to see you one day and informs you that, rather than commit you into care, two clones of your parents will be supplied to look after you and any siblings.  These clones look like your parents, talk like your parents, are capable of independent thought, and are practically indistinguishable from the real people they're cloned from.  In this way, the home environment with which you are so familiar can be maintained, thereby hopefully lessening the trauma of your parents' death.

Would this work for you?  It occurs to me that though this illusion of 'continuance' might be comforting to a degree, every so often you'd be reminded that, although these replacements fulfilled the role that your real parents had once served, they were mere duplicates, replicas, stand-ins - fakes even.  Sure, it would be great to have your life continue as before, but this couple were not the ones who had brought you into the world, looked after you, dried your tears as a child, etc., etc., - they were merely imitations.

Of course, the same scenario can be imagined for spouses and children, siblings and pets, but is this concept one that you feel drawn to, or do you reject it completely out of hand as something you'd never entertain if given the choice?  I must confess that the idea intrigues me, though I don't know if I'd go for such a scenario were it within the realms of possibility.

What gave rise to this bizarre idea?  Well, as I said, tonight, as I luxuriated in the refreshed familiarity of my bedroom, a sudden thought occurred to me, which was this:

As regular readers will be aware, I've recently been replacing posters, pin-ups, pages and pictures with newer duplicates.  The ones that now adorn my bedroom walls may appear the same as those they replaced, but they aren't the ones upon which I've daily gazed over the last 35-40 years of my life - they merely look like them (though newer, brighter, cleaner and whiter).

There's something comforting about retaining things that have accompanied you through a significant period of your life's journey; they have silently seen and shared your joys and sorrows, heartaches and hopes, like old friends that have always been there for you.  It suddenly struck me tonight that these pictorial doppelgangers don't share the lengthy history of their predecessors - they only have the same appearance, though not the same 'experience'.

I feel very guilty.  Though it's nice to have my room looking more colourful and less aged, I know that I'd never have replaced my parents with newer, younger duplicates when they began to look old and faded, so now wonder why I did so with my posters and pin-ups.  True, it's not an entirely equivalent comparison, but I still can't help but wonder at my heartlessness in dispensing with those loyal pictorial companions, many of which have accompanied me through nearly two-thirds of my life.  Like I said - I feel very guilty.

H'mm.  I think perhaps I shouldn't think so much.  It hurts.

Thursday 5 April 2018


On the wall across from the foot of my bed hangs an AIRFIX skeleton.  I purchased it in the early 1990s as a replacement for several of the same model I'd owned (at different times) as a child.  I'd love to be able to tell you that it inspired the following poem (which I wrote in 1980) because it would make a great anecdote to be able to say that the skeleton at the foot of my bed gave me the idea of Death being ever-present, but, alas, it had nothing to do with it, apt as it would be to claim otherwise.

Most of the poem came to me unbidden in the early hours of that '80s morning (I think it was October - I have a note of it somewhere, but it's not to hand at the moment), and, unable to sleep, I grabbed a pen and paper and jotted it down as it came to me.  Later, I added some bridging lines and polished it up into its present form, but, truth to tell, I'm still not entirely happy with it.  One day I must sit down and apply myself to giving it a further polish, but in the meantime I present it as it is for your esteemed consideration.  Are you all sitting comfortably?  Good, then I'll begin.


                                              Reader dear, if you will hearken,
                                              a hellish tale I shall relate;
                                              each and ev'ry word consider,
                                              for in their story lies my fate.
                                              One night while vainly seeking sleep,
                                              I heard a sound within my room,
                                              and slowly opening my eyes,
                                              I pierced the near-Stygian gloom.

                                              A fearful sight confronted me,
                                              O reader how can I convey
                                              the scene that met my startled eyes,
                                              a scene that haunts me to this day?
                                              A figure draped in black I saw,
                                              it lurked mere inches from my bed;
                                              a vision from the vaults of hell -
                                              my quaking heart was filled with dread!

                                              I lay quite still, no sound I made,
                                              though all the while I longed to scream -
                                              but I held back my cries of fear
                                              with hope 'twas all an idle dream.
                                              And then with stealth I pinched myself,
                                              with fervent pray'r my head would clear,
                                              but, alas, 'twas no vain fancy -
                                              the image did not disappear.

                                              I heard it moving closer then,
                                              though soft and muffled was its tread,
                                              a face peered out from 'neath its hood -
                                              a ghastly pale skeletal head!
                                              I watched the fiend loom over me,
                                              my body froze, my limbs grew numb.
                                              It bent its skull towards my face -
                                              I thought my final hour had come.

                                              And then it spoke - O saints above,
                                              I felt its fetid icy breath!
                                              The words it said near stopped my heart -
                                              "Tremble mortal, for I am Death!"
                                              And then my clouded head did spin,
                                              for he stretched out his evil claw,
                                              but something seemed to hold it back -
                                              his gnarled talon did withdraw.

                                              And as I gazed into his eyes,
                                              they glitter'd with intense regret;
                                              and then he spoke and I knew why -
                                              he said "Your time has not come yet.
                                              But know you this, although unseen,
                                              I stand forever at your side -
                                              and when at last your time does come,
                                              there is no place where you can hide!

                                              So now I leave you with these words" -
                                              he seemed to fade into the black -
                                              "You have respite, for now at least,
                                              but live in fear for I'll be back!"
                                              And with those words the fiend was gone,
                                              though only from my human sight,
                                              for he, in truth, yet lingers near -
                                              in spirit, ev'ry day and night.

                                              And since that dreadful hour I fear
                                              the chimes that bid me to my bed,
                                              for on some unknown day to come,
                                              the rising sun shall find me dead.
                                              And so I sit here while time flies
                                              until the day of Death's return,
                                              when he shall come to claim his prize -
                                              O reader dear, the tale is done!

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