Tuesday 30 November 2021


Copyright DC COMICS

You'll perhaps recall me relating the tale of how myself and one of my pals used to play at BATMAN & ROBIN back in the 1960s.  (You're no doubt relieved to hear that it wasn't just a few months ago - I'm not that sad.)  For my utility belt, I used part of the accompanying paraphernalia from my father's wartime portable morse code apparatus, which, to my young eyes, looked vaguely similar to ADAM WEST's equipment-laden waistline accessory on TV.

Now, usually I came in for a fair bit of mockery from my peers for my costumed exploits around the neighbourhood, as did my companion in crime-fighting, JOHN FIDLER (it's indeed fortunate that his nickname wasn't 'KID', eh?), who assumed the role of ROBIN, The BOY WONDER.  However, one evening, three local girls, who'd never previously paid the slightest bit of attention to me, seemed impressed by the striking appearance of my makeshift 'utility belt' and enthusiastically asked for a demonstration of its capabilities.

Touched by their obvious interest and spurred on by the look of wonder and admiration in their eyes, I agreed, and as we were playing close to some nearby lock-ups, I headed over to the water tap used by car owners to wash their vehicles.  It was housed in a grey-painted, oblong wooden 'box' against a lock-up wall, and picking up a metal bar from the ground, I placed it atop the flat surface of the box.

Directing the girls to stand at a distance over to my right (on the faux grounds that "it might be dangerous") I pretended to take some imaginary 'plastic explosive' from my belt and apply it to the iron rod.  Then, standing beside the tap and preventing their uninterrupted view, I simulated the act of pressing a button on what passed for my buckle while simultaneously attempting (surreptitiously) to bring down my left elbow on the end of the bar and hopefully send it somersaulting high into the air as though propelled by the explosive.

Alas, my actual ability was very far from the equal of my ambition, and my ruse was rumbled right away.  Disillusioned cries rent the air, along with contemptuous looks and jeering tones from the trio as they stormed off in disgust at my barefaced attempt to defraud them.  Ah, how fickle were the affections of these three feisty females, the extent of whose eager expectations I had clearly underestimated and been found sadly lacking as a consequence.

Even today, I remember how deflating it was to see the look of awe and adoration fade from the eyes of the three former fawning fillies who, only a short time before, had regarded me as a figure worthy of respect and admiration, if not actual hero worship.  There have been several females down through the years whose unrealistic expectations I've probably been unable to live up to, but nothing fills me with such feelings of failure as the memory of the faces of those three fearsome frustrated furies from so very long ago.


Batman copyright DC COMICS

STOP!!!  Don't jump elsewhere just yet.  I know I've shown you this Batman figure (by Marx) before, but this time, something's different.  Before I get to that, just a quick recap.  When I first bought this (replacement) figure more than a quarter of a century ago, the cape was frayed, and the Bat-a-rang and utility belt were missing (along with the Bat emblem).  I used the original cape as a template to make a new one out of non-fraying felt, created a Bat-a-rang from Perspex, and crafted a utility belt, again using felt.

At first I gave Bats a more contemporary symbol, but eventually printed one from a picture of the emblem used on Adam West's costume, and, as you can see below, the result was pretty good.  Obviously I'd have preferred all the original components, but believe me, unless it's unopened and unplayed with, you'd be pretty hard-pressed to find this classic toy in any condition, never mind a complete version.  (And it'd cost you a small fortune if you did.)

Bats looks a little brighter here as photo was taken in daylight

Guess what though?  Someone on eBay is selling repros of the belt from the Mego 8" figure, so I bought one.  It's different from the Marx belt in that it closes at the back, not the front, and the detail isn't quite the same.  It's also too short to fit around the waist of the Marx figure, but I sorted that by using a bit of felt to extend the length and now it's a perfect fit.  What I'd like to know though, is which one you Crivvies prefer.  The felt belt has been in use for more than 25 years, but the plasticky/rubbery belt perhaps looks as though it belongs more with the figure.

So help me out guys.  Look at the photos and tell me which of the two belts looks more at home on Batman (who looks for all the world like a Gerry Anderson puppet) - the handmade felt belt or the other 'real' one.  Your opinions will be carefully considered and help me come to a final decision as to which belt Bats gets to wear full-time.  Kindly register your vote now if you'd all be so good.  (No prizes unfortunately, just the joy of taking part.)

I think there's a layer of dust on Bats in the first pic, hence the grey looking grubbier

Monday 29 November 2021



Okay, here's a question for all you Crivvies, which will hopefully inspire you to apply your mighty brains in search of a revealing answer.  What's the one comics issue that's made the most lasting impression on you (story or art-wise) since you first started reading, and why?  Failing that (in case it's too difficult to pick just one), what's the one single regular title (as in Superman, Spider-Man, or whatever) that's your favourite series in your longstanding term as a comics reader?

Never mind that 'answers on a postcard' nonsense.  It'll save you the price of a stamp if you use the comments section.


No responses yet.  Either the question's too hard or too boring.  Say which you think it is - maybe it's both.


Images copyright DC COMICS

Here's a post first published over eight-and-a-half years ago which never garnered a single comment.  I thought it might have better luck this time, so come on, Crivvies, don't let me down.


Back in the early to mid-'70s, DC COMICS published a 9 issue run of a comic called BLACK MAGIC, which reprinted strips from the 1950s PRIZE COMICS mag of the same name.  Some of the art was revised in places to look less dated (and also to meet then-current Comics Code requirements) and, overall, the reproduction wasn't quite as good as it could (and should) have been.  However, it was a noble attempt to present older tales to a then-modern readership, so here are the covers to all 9 issues of this short-lived but interesting revival of a SIMON & KIRBY classic.

Looking at these covers takes me right back in time.  I still remember the shop from which I bought the first issue, though it's so long since I've been there that I'm unsure whether it still exists or not.  I suspect the latter.  Also, I don't think I had every issue at the time, just the first three or four perhaps.  However, I've got 'em all now, even if it did take me 40 years to own the complete set.  Did you buy this mag back in the day, and if so, what are your memories of it?  

(Interestingly, the fourth issue featured a version of a hitherto unused cover originally intended for the first issue of the title's initial 1950s run.)

Friday 26 November 2021


Copyright relevant owner

Let me now tell you all about Fanderson, the Gerry & Sylvia Anderson Appreciation Society.  They make great items for their members that aren't available anywhere else.  These are top-notch quality items at reasonable prices and I have no complaints about them.  I do, however, have a complaint about the way they run their fan club and the manner in which they make their members part with their money when it comes to renewal.

Let me give you the facts.  On March 16th of this year I joined Fanderson so that I could have access to the exclusive goodies they make.  I received confirmation of my membership which said that it would expire on March 16th 2022 (see below).  Fanderson refer (or did until recently - more on that shortly) to the membership as lasting a year, which any normal person would take to mean 12 months.  Imagine my surprise then, when I received an email sometime in August telling me that my membership had now expired (after a mere five months) and that it was time to renew.

See?  A full year.  This is now casually dismissed as a 'system limitation'

I contacted chairman Nick Williams to ask what was going on, and received a dubious attempt to justify their request for me to renew.  Apparently, in Mr. Williams' world, a year doesn't mean a year, but only the time it takes for the member to receive his three FAB magazines, the publication schedule of which is increasingly variable.  Therefore, if you receive your trio of mags in five months, then your membership has expired.  You see, they've lagged behind in their publishing schedule, so this is an attempt (according to Mr. Williams) to get things back on track.  (At members' expense and inconvenience, not their own.)

Hello Gordon, and thanks for getting in touch.

As we can't publish FAB magazine to a strict schedule, a Fanderson membership doesn't run for a year, but for three issues.  Normally, we publish in Spring, summer and winter, so three issues does roughly equate to a year.  For this reason we never say anywhere that a membership is for a year.  (Not quite true, and conveniently ignoring that a 'year's membership' implicitly suggests a year.)

Thanks for bringing this to our attention and all the best.

Note, however, in the following extract from their terms and conditions, that a year's membership is said to include three magazines, not consist of them, which is entirely different.  Why shouldn't a year mean a full year (as stated on their membership confirmation), which would entitle the member to only three magazines, regardless of how many are published?  So, for example, if Fanderson were to publish only two during any given year* and your membership expires, they could send on any delayed mag when it appears, and if they publish four or five during a year, you're still only entitled to three, but can buy the extra mags from their online shop if you so wish.  This seems an eminently more sensible way of doing things than the rather elastic way they seem to prefer.

(*In fact, this actually happened one year.  Was membership extended until the next mag was published the following year?  I very much doubt it.  Talk about double standards.)

When you join Fanderson we'll send you a welcome letter, your membership badge and card and the latest issue of the club's own magazine FAB.

Your membership includes three issues of FAB per year (nominally in spring, summer and winter) and each full colour issue features the latest news of Anderson productions... etc., etc.

However, is it any wonder they prefer a more 'flexible' approach when it means that renewing members have to stump up a total of £62 in a five month (or whatever) period, as opposed to £31 every 12 months?  It's a sure-fire way of doubling their income.  Another thing to consider is that because my membership was curtailed prematurely, I could no longer purchase anything from their online shop as I was no longer a member.  By no stretch of the imagination can this be described as a fair and satisfactory scenario, as everything led me to believe I would have a full year's membership, despite Mr. Williams gymnastic reinterpretation of what a year means.

Not helping matters was the fact that the first FAB mag I received was from last year (November 2020), meaning that I received what was essentially a back issue.  As the next new one came out in May 2021, I maintain that it better qualified as the 'latest' issue (being only 2 months in the future as opposed to its predecessor being four months in the past of the previous year) and that I should've been sent the first one produced in the calendar year that I joined, not the calendar year before.

Mr. Williams unconvincing attempt to justify this was to claim that new members would complain if they didn't receive a magazine immediately after they joined.  I doubt it - not if it was explained in the terms and conditions that their membership was effective immediately (thereby giving them access to the online shop), though they'd only receive the first new mag of any given year when it was published.  

Had the first mag I received been published in 2021, that would've been acceptable (even if it was a couple or so months old) as it would qualify as the latest issue of that specific year, but it's just not on to send me one from the year before I joined when it prematurely terminates the duration of my membership, requiring me to renew after only a few months.  So let me be clear: a previously-published magazine from the year before a new member signs up would be a 'no-no', but one from the same year a membership starts would be okay.

Mr. Williams was tenacious in his refusal to acknowledge any merit to my observations, saying that I didn't understand the terms of membership.  Strangely, he then went on to say that the current situation was not usual, being a result of them getting behind schedule, so for some reason he expects me to know, seemingly by osmosis, the rather elastic way the club has when it comes to the way they do business.  Essentially, he's admitting that a year's membership is normally a year, except when they mess things up and get behind with things.

Thanks again, Gordon.

Thanks for pointing out the place where it says "per year", which shouldn't be there and has been corrected.  (Remember, he'd previously said that they 'never say anywhere that membership is for a year'.)

As I've already said, (and as I'd already demonstrated wasn't quite so) memberships do not run a calendar year, but three issues of FAB.  We make this clear: on the Members benefits page - on the join the club page - in our Terms and Conditions.  (As all three pages had been hastily amended to remove any reference to a year since my first email, this was tantamount to changing the rules after the match had started, therefore rendering any such claim of clarity redundant, to say nothing of dishonest.) 

The fact that the terms and conditions have since been comprehensively rewritten (that's at least twice now) amply demonstrates the validity of my observations, otherwise why would they need to retroactively change things (in response to my emails) if everything had been crystal clear to begin with?  Mr. Williams even thanks me at one point for bringing the matter to his attention, and admits that he has 'corrected' the relevant information so that no one else thinks they're getting a year's membership when they take out a year's membership.  Crazy or what?

Fanderson might be a "club for fans, by fans", but that shouldn't be an excuse for ripping off members by moving the goalposts whenever it's expedient.  If they're going to take people's hard-earned money, then they should be prepared to give people what they're paying for.  Mr. Williams said that if I rejoined, he would give me an extra FAB mag for free (wow - charged twice in one year for one extra mag), but eventually gave me a partial refund after I'd worn him down a bit.  Naturally, I won't be renewing my membership as I've no wish to be part of something that treats its members with such contempt.  Shame about missing out on their nice goodies, but they're missing out on my dosh.

So if you're looking for a well-run, organised club for Gerry Anderson fans - one which treats its members' intelligence (and wallets) with respect - then Fanderson isn't it.  "Not well done, Parker." 


(Update:) On consideration, although I was originally prepared to ascribe their haphazard way of doing things to nothing more than incompetence, I'm now left with the conclusion that this "membership doesn't last a year" thing is a calculated act to prise more money out of members at a quicker rate.  (Might not have started as that, but they 'wised up' pretty quick.)  As I said above, why shouldn't it be a full 12 months membership which entitles subscribers to three FAB mags a year, as and when they appear?

To reiterate, if they only publish a couple of mags one year, they can send the third mag on when it appears, and if they publish four or five, members are entitled to only three of them as part of their membership.  That's surely the simplest and best 'value for money' way of doing it, so the fact that they don't, preferring instead to ask members to renew after only a few short months (variable from 'year' to 'year'), is highly suspicious.  Call me cynical if you will, but something sure smells fishy in Denmark, don't you think?

If you're a member of this club, tell them you won't renew until membership is for what it was originally intended to be, before they realised they could fleece you for more money by asking you to renew on receipt of your third issue of the mag.  After all, should that mag not be published until several months after the previous one. your membership isn't extended until you receive it, is it?  You're being ripped off!

Thursday 25 November 2021


Part of the view from the front step of my old house, taken many, many years after flitting

There's a woman I know (slightly) who works in one of the shops in my local town centre and who lives in the same street as I did from 1960 to '64.  Her family moved in either just before or just after mine, and as far as I know she's lived there ever since.  This will be her last full day in the house as she recently sold it, and tomorrow she moves into a flat in another neighbourhood.  Apparently, looking after the front and back gardens became just a bit much for her, which is what prompted her to consider downsizing to a smaller domicile without gardens.

I don't remember her from my time there, nor her me, but we probably saw one another running around the neighbourhood back in the day.  It was only by chance, during an idle chat when I was in her shop one day, that I learned she stayed in my old street.  What must it be like flitting from her family home after more than 60 years and starting all over again?   As she's moving within the town, if ever she's back visiting friends, she'll likely pass her old house on occasion, which makes me wonder whether that'll make her miss living there all the more (if she does at all) or derive some kind of comfort from it yet being part of her experience, even if only an external one.

Are there any Crivvies who still reside in the house they grew up in, and would you be able to move elsewhere without suffering some pangs of regret that an era had come to an end after so long a period?  I don't think I could handle such a move, and I've only lived in my current home since I was 13 and a half (not all my life), with a four year gap when my family moved to another neighbourhood before returning to our former abode, where we'd previously resided for 11 years.  Any thoughts, theories, observations or speculations on this topic are most welcome.

Tuesday 23 November 2021


Take a look at the above model, currently available from the Corgi website for £27.49 (not including p&p).  Now take a look at the eBay listing below of the exact same recently reissued model - asking price £185.  (A couple or so other sellers aren't quite so greedy, asking £50 or just short of £70.)  It seems that some 'crooks' simply have no shame.

Incidentally, a far more accurate version of the original 1965 model will be on sale (mail order only) around January or February in the New Year.  I'll be receiving it when it's released, so I'll keep you posted.  (Despite the box, the car in the photos is a re-created version of the 2nd edition 1968 silver birch Aston Martin [painted gold], not the 1st edition '65 one.)

Click to enlarge


Hard to believe that The Rocketeer movie came out 30 years ago, the character having debuted a mere nine years earlier as a back-up tale in the pages of Starslayer #2.  Created by the late Dave Stevens (who sadly died in 2008 at the ridiculously young age of 52), the complete eight chapters have been reprinted in various editions (that I know of) down through the years, and at least one of those volumes belongs in every true comics fan's collection.  (And a deluxe 40th Anniversary Artist's Edition is due out in April 2022.)

Regarding the movie, I've only ever seen occasional bits of it on TV, never the full shebang, but one day I intend to sit down and watch it from beginning to end.  I already have a Rocketeer figure which came out around the time of the film, but I recently bought this Mego figure 'cos I thought it was a neat looking item.

Only one problem: the straps which attach the rocket pack to the figure are of a barely stretchable flat plastic and are difficult to get the arms into without them digging into the tunic's sleeves.  Each loop needs to be half-rolled over them, which results in the plastic becoming twisted in places, and I was worried that this procedure might eventually damage the fabric of the tunic, if not snap the straps.

So what was the solution?  I carefully removed the original straps (without breaking anything - that's the two-loop [single piece of] plastic you can see at the bottom of the clear display 'case') and substituted a softer black elasticated cord which allows me to affix the rocket pack with no difficulty or risk of damage to either the cord or tunic.  Who's a clever boy then?  (Now feed me some Trill.)

My collection of Mego figures is coming along nicely, and another one (this time from America) should be arriving in a couple of weeks or so.  Can you guess who it is?  Don't worry if you can't, he'll be revealed on the blog when he arrives.  Can't wait 'til he gets here.

Anyway, below is the cover of one of The Rocketeer collections I mentioned.  Do yourself a favour and track down a copy as soon as you can.  You'll love it.

Sunday 21 November 2021


Long ago and far away, in a dimension which can be accessed only through the mystical portals of memory, I popped into the neighbourhood newsagents on my way to school one day and purchased a copy of TV CENTURY 21 #3.  Within this great comic, paradoxically dated a hundred years in the future, was a sheet of card from which could be pressed out a model of FIREBALL XL5.

When I got to school, before lessons began I sat and assembled the folded pieces into their predetermined shape while my teacher and classmates looked on, fascinated.  I wasn't one who particularly enjoyed being the object of of such rapt attention, but I was so engrossed in what I was doing that I paid them scant heed and just got on with it.  When I had finished and the teacher had expressed approbation for the fruits of my labour, lessons began, and although I couldn't tell you anything else that happened that day, that particular moment is a fond recollection over fifty-six years after the fact.

Relax - mine doesn't have 'Northernlad' stamped across it

I never saw that cardboard 'model' from childhood again until nearly twenty years later, when it was reproduced in black and white on the back cover of  S.I.G., a magazine devoted to the puppet programmes of GERRY ANDERSON.  I remember thinking that it was a shame it wasn't in colour and hoping that someone would one day get around to producing a proper facsimile of this free gift which I greatly coveted.


Well, several decades on, someone finally did it.  Printed on card (though not perforated for pressing out), it enables nostalgists like myself to relive a part of our cherished childhood and bridge the span between past, present and future.  Future?  Sure - after all, the comic was cover-dated February 6th, 2065, so technically it's not due to be published for another fifty-six years.  Thanks to a rift in time and space, however, I managed to obtain a replacement for the actual comic a good while back.  It's immensely satisfying to finally be able to reunite it with a copy of its original free gift after so long a period.

Suddenly I'm an eager five year-old child once more, sitting in a chalk-dusty classroom in a different century - when the one we now live in was  the stuff of dreams and seemed too far away to even contemplate.

Saturday 20 November 2021



Surprising as it may seem, some people don't know - or appreciate - the difference between typeset lettering and hand-lettered dialogue balloons (or captions) in a comic.  "What difference does it make?" they ask in a puzzled manner.  Of course, these people are as thick as the proverbial brick and I'm sure all you 'Crivvies' could tell them the answer just as well as I could, if not better.

However, there's no need to tell them when I can show them.  Back in the 1970s, there was a period when IPC MAGAZINES resorted to typeset lettering for all their publications, the result of a dispute (so legend has it) with the letterers they usually employed.  DCT had used typeset lettering for years of course, and more or less did it pretty adequately.  IPC's attempts were disastrous on the other hand, and the appearance of many a strip was ruined in my humble opinion.  (For which I'm justly famous, I might add.)

Years later, when these strips came up for reprinting, they had to be relettered by hand to bring them up to an acceptable standard and allow them to fit in with the new material they sat alongside.  One such story is the one featured in this post, 'THE GRUDGE', which first appeared in BATTLE #196, cover-dated December 2nd, 1978, and resurfaced twelve years later in BATTLE ACTION FORCE (un-numbered), cover-dated December 14th, 1985.

This is one I lettered myself, and more was required that just placing new lettering over old.  There's a fair amount of 'blotting out' and 'drawing up' to be done, so that old balloon tails or odd edges don't protrude out from under the new and improved speech bubbles and captions.  Anyway, I'll let you judge for yourselves just how good a job I did - right after you've read the story.  Ready?  Off you go then.  The original pages are on the left, the relettered versions on the right.

Click on image to enlarge, then click again for optimum size.


Here's a nice, slow, relaxing ballad from Jim
Reeves to soothe your heart and mind, and make
you feel refreshed after listening to it.  Wish I could
 sing like this.  In fact, I wish I could sing.  

Friday 19 November 2021


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!

Okay, okay - it's actually a Sevans Dalek kit that I built and painted myself, but I thought some of you might've found that harder to believe than the first account. 


Copyright DC COMICS

I think it was 1974, but it could've been the previous year as we holidayed in Blackpool two years in a row.  If it was '74, that was the very last holiday I ever had because when I started work at 16, I never had another one.  Anyway, I remember seeing an eight inch Mego Superman action figure in a shop window, and by the time I'd managed to persuade my parents to give me the money for it (out of my holiday dosh, which they looked after), we were well-past the shop.  I had to run back, hoping that it hadn't sold in the meantime, as I imagined might happen with Supes being so popular.

I needn't have worried.  He was still there, so I entered the shop and purchased him.  At 15 (or 14 if it was '73) I was probably too old for such a toy (maybe even any toy), but this was one I simply had to have.  And that's why, dear Crivvie, I recently bought a replacement for it, which arrived at Castel Crivens just a short time ago.  Truth to tell, it's not exactly a 'replacement' as it has an updated head and the costume sports some differences, but it is a genuine Mego figure, albeit one issued in 2020, not the 1970s.  (I've included a picture of the original, culled from eBay, so that you can compare the two.  Mine came in a box though, not a bubble-card.)

Anyway, I haven't ruled out buying an original at some point, but the contemporary version will suffice for the nonce.  Alas, I'm now (and have been for a long time) far too old to actually play with any of my collectable toys - they function more as ornaments than playthings, but at least I can still derive pleasure from simply looking at them in their allotted place.  Any of you Crivvies ever have any Mego Superhero figures back in the day?  Do tell!

Thursday 18 November 2021


Copyright DC COMICS

The six part Swamp Thing series from 2016 (the first ish went on sale in December 2015), marked the return of co-creator/writer Len Wein to the character (outside of his role as editor), and seemed to ignore what Alan Moore did to the 'muck-encrusted mockery of a man' during his celebrated run back in the '80s.  There, Moore revealed that Alec Holland had died following the laboratory explosion that engulfed him, and that Swamp Thing was, essentially, a plant/vegetable entity which had absorbed (due to the bio-restorative formula) the 'essence' of his consciousness, or at least a facsimile of it.

I'm not sure if Wein's reaction to this change was ever recorded, but in this six part series, he appears to reverse Moore's idea (or at least minimalize it) by having the swamp creature declare on the second-last page - "I've learned which skin I wear really makes no difference.  Covered in moss or flesh, I am who I am..."  "My name is Holland.  Doctor Alec Holland."   (In stark contrast to Moore having him say "Alec Holland is dead.  He died... many years ago... in an explosion.  But it... has taken him... a long time... to lie down.  He's gone now.  He's... at rest..."  "I am... the Swamp Thing.")

Personally, I think Moore's idea was extremely clever, even inspired, but I prefer the Swamp Thing as Holland, as opposed to a mere 'echo' of him.  Not, I don't think, that Wein was restating Swampy was a transformed Holland*, only that what made him who he is in respect to how he thought and reacted to those around him, was a perpetuation of the human being who'd preceded him - in 'soul' if not in flesh.

(*Although, having just re-read the series and refreshed my memory, there are indications which seem to suggest he may've been doing precisely that.)

Anyway, that's enough of the 'deep' stuff.  Let's enjoy these half dozen images together.  And if you have any thoughts, theories, or observations about Swampy, feel free to share them in the comments section.   

Monday 15 November 2021


I was in a new shop called HOME BARGAINS today* (it's new in our shopping centre anyway) and saw a portable door chime kit at a very reasonable price.  Back home, in preparation for fitting it, I first had to remove the old one which no longer worked (and hadn't for some time). That's when the memories resurfaced of an earlier house and an earlier time from around 30 years ago.

(*Remember, this was first posted in 2015.)

You see, dear reader, I'd first purchased that doorbell when I lived in that other house, which was the one it was intended for.  I probably bought it at least a year before we moved back to my present abode (regular readers know the story), but I simply never got around to it.  However,  I had first envisioned it on that other front door, and even though I've passed it on my way in and out of my present address for around 25 years (I was back here for about two years before I had it fitted), I still mainly associate it with my previous home.  With one exception that is, which I am now about to relate.

I say 'doorbell', but it was actually an ARCHER intercom set I'd purchased in TANDY.  My reason for acquiring it was so that my elderly parents could check who was at the front door before opening it, but it proved to be an utterly futile ambition.  When I eventually got around to having it fitted (in my present house, remember), I carefully explained the rather easy procedure for operating it, which was this.  "When someone rings the bell, turn on the intercom, then press the button clearly marked 'push/talk' and ask who it is.  When you've done that, let go of the button in order to hear the response.  Got that?  Turn on - push/talk - let go/listen."  I demonstrated it several times, but they simply couldn't get the hang of it.

I'd go to the front door, ring the bell, and, my father would  forget to press the 'on' button to activate the thing.  He would simply press the 'push/talk' button, but because the intercom wasn't switched on, I couldn't hear him.  Again I would demonstrate the simple three part procedure:  "Turn on intercom when you hear the bell, press the 'push/talk' button to ask who's at the door, let go of the button to listen to the response."  In my impatience, I felt that teaching retarded chimps how to clap their hands would've been far easier, so uncoordinated and uncomprehending were they in following my simple instructions.

I was driven to frustration and tempted to bang my head off the wall - ironically akin to what it felt I was already doing in trying (and failing) to impart enlightenment to my parents.  I could've house-trained an incontinent puppy sooner than it seemed I'd ever be able to teach them those three simple basic steps.  "NO!  Turn the bloody thing on first.  Look - (Click!)  Now press the 'push/talk' button and speak - (Press!)  'Hello, who's there?'  Now let go of the 'push/talk' button and listen - 'It's the Milk Man come for his money!'  Now how bloody difficult is that, for feck's feckin' sake?  Aaaarggghhhh!"

They still couldn't do it.  Even when they remembered to turn it on first, they'd forget to let go of the 'push/talk' button after speaking, so they couldn't hear me at the door shouting "Let go of the feckin' push/talk button for feck's sake - how many feckin' times do I have to tell you?"  Sometimes my father would push the button, speak, forget to let go, then suddenly remember, by which time I (or whoever was at the door) had finished replying.  As there was no answer (already having been given) he would ask again, "Who's there?", but he would forget to press the 'push/talk' button first so he was talking to himself.

"It doesn't work!" was their blunt assessment of the device designed to protect them from dodgy characters at the front door.  "No, IT works, it's your BRAINS that don't!" were the tender, loving words from their dutiful, affectionate and caring son.  It was pointless to persist.  They never used it and I soon gave up trying to show them how simple it was.  What is it about getting older that turns the brain to mush?  I hope I'm not that bereft of comprehension when I'm the age they were then.  Of course, it may simply have been that my parents thought there was nothing any mere youth could teach them, and therefore paid no more than superficial heed to my 'technical' instructions.

Anyway, a new bell is now fitted, but - worn and non-working as the old intercom set now is - I don't think I'll ever throw it out.  Too many memories, and, the above tale apart, mainly associated with the previous home for which it was originally intended.  Funny that, eh?

Sunday 14 November 2021


I 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 here) 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 yet know anyone in our new neighbourhood, 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.

Back then I didn't understand their sullen coldness towards me, 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 local kids now viewed me as no longer belonging there, but it was yet far 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 displaced, 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' (if I ever had been).  Still, like I said - I've never quite forgotten.


For two and a half years I yet attended the school over the road from where I'd lived and was therefore back in the neighbourhood five days out of seven.  Also, for a time I continued my Saturday morning car-washing enterprise in the pub car park on the far side of the shops across from my old house, so it never occurred to me to feel disconnected from the area.  Even after I quit school, in the evenings I'd hang about the neighbourhood shops and nearby locales with those who didn't view me as an 'outsider'.  In fact, as I learned much later, some folk assumed for many years that I still lived there due to my seemingly constant presence.

Because I was there regularly and often passed my former home, I did so with no pangs of regret as part of my subconscious mind presumably hadn't quite registered I no longer lived there.  Eventually, as I grew older and my visits to my former environs became less frequent, they gradually became more dear to me.  It must've taken at least a dozen years before I began to miss the place, by which time I was in yet another house to the one we'd flitted to back when I was still a young teenager.

It's strange, but sometimes I feel I do still live in that house, but the same goes for every home I've ever lived in as my memory returns to each of them in turn at different times, depending on the 'prompt'.

What about you, Crivvies - any similar thoughts, feelings, or experiences?  You know where the comments section is.

Saturday 13 November 2021



Having recently re-shown you all 39 covers to Marvel UK's Captain Britain '70s weekly comic, I thought I should strike while the iron is hot and re-present the covers from his 14 issue '80s monthly mag as well.  So here they are!  Shame it didn't last longer 'cos it was a good wee periodical, but it lives on in memory - as well as in my collection of pristine issues bought back in the day.

Yes, these images were scanned from my originals a few years back, so here they are again to allow you to indulge in your own personal nostalgia if you read these comics when they were first published.  Feel free to leave a comment sharing your reminiscences or observations - if you have any.  (If not, use your imagination and make some up.  I won't know - or mind.)

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