Category Archives: Humour

Victor Comic and me (2)

Victor Comic normally began with a war story in full colour on the outside covers of the comic. The story was always true, although I don’t think that that ever really registered with me:

This particular story may not have been 100% true but I think that this is because Douglas Bader was still alive at the time and they didn’t want any law suits:

And anyway, what’s an arm or a leg between friends?

Good Old One-Armed Mac was back doing what he did best. Killing Germans:

Good Old One-Armed Mac used to fly a Hawker Hurricane, but the squadron leader chose to ignore totally the aircraft’s fuel tank capacity when he announced one day that they were going to go and attack Germany. Perhaps they went just a little way up the Rhine on an aircraft carrier:

No, I don’t see an arrestor hook there. But they’re very good, aren’t they?

Victor always had completely 100% fictional wartime characters such as Sergeant Matt Braddock VC. He usually flew a Lancaster or a Mosquito but he could turn his hand to anything. Nobody knew that Matt and his navigator George were the adopted sons of Biggles and Ginger:

Here’s the text if you can’t read it:

Given the hair brained nature of some of the things they did, I’m not too surprised that Matt and George were based at the fictional RAF Rampton. Here’s the Terrible Twosome and a nice illustration of what they do best:

Braddock might have been a double Victoria Cross winner, but he was not cut out for training young recruits:

He was not very good either at passing on the idea of “the calm pilot who was always in control” :

He was never really very interested in the concept of patience and understanding:

Occasionally, in the stories featured in Victor Comic the odd cliché would crop up. The clichés were never really a genuine source of negativity though and they were never meant in a nasty way.

And race hatred was something that just did not ever crop up. No higher respect could have possibly been paid, for example, to those great warriors, the Gurkhas or indeed, any other non-white soldiers in the British Army.

Characters from the Middle East could even star in their own series. And, yes, the hero does look a little bit blonde haired with possibly a hint of blue eyes:

But what about “the traditional Jesus” ?  Very few people will ever have been struck by the markedly Jewish appearance of Jesus in illustrations . Here’s Jesus the Viking:

Advertisements

26 Comments

Filed under Aviation, History, Humour, Literature, Personal

Victor Comic and me (1)

When I was just a lad in the early 1960s, I read comics at every opportunity.
To be honest, I eventually decided that a comic with only pictures in it was too quickly consumed and for that reason it didn’t give a great deal of value for money. Eventually therefore, I settled on “Wizard” as my comic of choice, because it had only text stories inside and it therefore took a lot longer to read. My favourite characters included “The Wolf of Kabul” a ripping yarn about English intervention in Afghanistan involving a man armed with a cricket bat:

Political correctness was not first and foremost in anybody’s mind in these stories, but at least they did always win:

I also recollect “The Scarlet Skull”, a series about a First World War pilot in a Bristol Fighter who was armed with a Mauser revolver and who brought German aircraft down with just one bullet through the pilot’s head:

There wasn’t anything that he couldn’t do. He inspired me. If there’d still been an RFC in 1962, I would have joined it.

This cover mentions “Wilson the Wonder Athlete” but given my attraction to ice buns and chocolate bars, I wasn’t particularly interested in stories about running around very quickly or about living in a cave on the Yorkshire moors eating nuts and berries:

Another favourite story of mine was about a tree in Kenya that was so high that it had whole tribes of people living in it. No, really, I do remember it, but nobody else seems to!
I did buy other comics with my pocket money though. I can still remember waiting impatiently for a new comic called Victor to come out on February 5th 1961. I went up to the newsagent’s in High Street, Taylors, and asked Albert Taylor to make sure he saved me one. I even returned to his  shop on several occasions to make sure that he had not forgotten what I’d asked him to do:

There was a “Super Squirt Ring” as a free gift, but I just don’t remember that:

What I do remember was the edge of the comic where a machine had cut it. It was heavily and stiffly serrated and very, very tactile as you rubbed your finger across it. Ten years later, I would have a university lecturer telling me about French novelist, Marcel Proust and his madeleine cake but this famous literary event didn’t even come close to Victor Comic around 9.30 am on February 5th 1961.
The free gift from Victor Comic, which I  do definitely remember, was the plastic wallet which would eventually contain more than 20 postcard sized pictures of the ‘Star Teams of 1961’. This is a wallet like the one I had, but I can’t find an exact match:


The Star Teams included England, Tottenham Hotspur and Ipswich and Scottish teams such as Glasgow Celtic, “The Rangers” and Kilmarnock:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There were also Northern Irish teams such as Glenavon and Portadown whose results, in those days, were featured on BBC TV on Saturday afternoons. Rugby League was not forgotten with Wigan and St Helens. The England and Scotland Rugby Union XVs were there as well. This is Wigan:

Nowadays, the Star Teams of 1961 are almost permanently on sale on ebay, but that’s not the same thrill as going up to the newsagent to buy the comics with them in, straight after breakfast.

14 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Criminology, History, Humour, Literature, Personal, Writing

The adverts in Victor Comic (2)

Here’s a second look at some of the adverts in Victor Comic in the 1960s. Ironically, given the wide spectrum of areas where the picture stories are based, from working class athletes to First World War flyers, from the trusty Gurkhas to the first Mounties, the adverts are not particularly vast in scope. I suppose the problem was that they all had to sell things which a boy or a youth of say, 8-16 or older might be interested in, and could afford, without involving risky photographs of the fair sex or dangerous weapons.

So keep it clean lads and stick to your Airfix kits:

FW Woolworth. Whatever happened to them? All the naughty boys were  probably sniffing their Airfix glue to get their kicks but there was certainly very little of a hallucinogenic quality in stamp hinges. So the comic was full of  them. And a lot of money must have been made. Well, they do say Philately will get you anywhere. Just look at these adverts:

Don’t be fooled by the word ‘Million’, though. For a start, you have to share a million stamp packets with everybody else and there is bound to be some catch to it. You certainly won’t get a million packets of stamps because that many would bury a small town. The second advert has prices.  Between 2/6 and 5/- would be a likely sum for a boy’s weekly pocket money (12.5 to 25 pence). The advert for 50 different stamps “plus exciting mystery set” certainly makes Heston in Middlesex sound exciting and mysterious. And neither Mr Brown nor Mr Delaney in the very last section can be doing that well with the amount of advertising space they have had to share.

There are still matchbox covers for sale. although if I lived in Cocksett Avenue I think I’d move:

And still the stamps pour in. Did the entire world write a dozen letters a day? To Rumania, and Paraguay, and China (Communist and Nationalist)?

England winning the World Cup in 1966 gave every country an excuse to print even more stamps. And those stamps that were overprinted with “England Winners”. Do you remember how everybody went nuts to buy them? Well, just look up sometime how much they are worth nowadays:

For the older boy there were adverts for cars:

Mind you, they were model cars at Woolworths, not real ones. Incidentally, my Dad paid £510 for a full size Hillman Minx in 1966 and my Mum would have played merry stink with him if he’d told her the correct price.

Every teenager will want to change his body, of course. Here’s an advert for Charles Atlas who always looked rather like my Dad;. but only from the neck up. I’ve actually seen this advert before. When I was a little boy, I thought the two young ladies were very strange bricklayers. And I wouldn’t want to live in Chitty Street either:

And last of all, a comic can advertise itself. Special editions for the Summer Holidays:

And don’t miss any foreign sales. There are thousands of little boys across the globe all wanting to have Victor comic sent to them. But what bizarre sums of money! 43/4d and 36/10d are just weird. It’s like the charge being precisely £4.34 or exactly £3.61 :

Above all reserve your comic:

Or you could buy your Victor on DVD. A lot cheaper than collecting the whole lot on ebay one at a time.

25 Comments

Filed under History, Humour, Personal

The adverts in Victor Comic (1)

Years ago, one of my favourite comics was called ‘Victor’. At this time, during the 1960s, there were lots and lots of comics, which were read by lots and lots of boys.

And of course, with so many publications which reached so many boys, there were bound to be lots and lots of advertisements. Some were for games to pass the infinite time of childhood. This is one of the best known:

But that wasn’t the only one:

The majority of adverts were for hobbies:

One hobby which I always found quite bizarre involved miniature metal steam engines. One of the more familiar names was ‘Mamod’ although other types were also available:

The biggest money earner was surely philately. It was as if every boy in the country was a keen collector of postage stamps. First of all though, you had to buy an album:

Stamp collecting taught you a lot though. Where all the countries were. What language they used, and quite often a word or two of that language. You learnt if the language had a different alphabet. I could tell Chinese from Korean and so could a lot of other 10 year old boys. It was easy to be familiar with the different states of India or Malaysia and all those exotic sounding islands of the West Indies. And stamps were so easily obtainable:

They sold stamps by the Approvals method. This involved your being a member of, say, the Wulfruna Club, to quote the advert above. You were sent a little booklet full of stamps, usually in sets, all of which were priced at sums below five shillings (two weeks’ pocket money approximately). You could buy some stamps yourself or see if your friends wanted to buy any. You sent the money back to the Wulfruna Club by postal order. There were bonus stamps available if you sold more than a certain amount’s worth of stamps, or if you recruited your friends to the club. On one occasion, I received bonus stamps from Bahawalpur, one of the states of Pakistan, for recruiting two other boys to the club.

Here is a final three part advert which mentions not just postage stamp approvals but also matchbox covers. A lot of boys collected either matchboxes or cigarette packets but I wasn’t allowed to pick them up off the pavement because there might be germs involved. Anyway, here’s the advert:

Keen eyed detectives of the future or past will note that their advert also offers tuition in conjuring. There are few things in life more boring than a Member of the Magic Circle but, more worryingly perhaps, how would a stupendous world beating conjurer still be living in Stoke-on-Trent?

Unless, of course, you investigate with that Google thing whereby you walk down the street and discover that Whitfield Road is really the Las Vegas of the North Midlands.

 

 

23 Comments

Filed under History, Humour, Personal

Staff cricket : the Golden Years (4)

I know of only one photograph of the staff team in action. I don’t remember who the opponents were, but I believe the picture was taken by Allan Sparrow who was very keen on photography and who ran the School Photography Society which had its very own dark room in one of those tiny rooms off the very short corridor which leads to the Language Laboratory. Anyway, here is that photograph of a split second in time, forty years ago:

The batsman at this end, his name, alas, unknown, has been, literally, caught out, and the bowler, Clem Lee, makes his loud appeal, “Howzat !” to the Umpire. This is Me, dressed as Ché Guévara in a Surgeon’s outfit. On the left, Tony Slack, who, in one game he played, once hit the England fast bowler Freddie Truman to the boundary for four runs, adds his voice to the appeals. The only one not appealing is the batsman near me, who just turns around to await my decision. My raised index finger signifies “Out!”

Here’s the second photograph:

This photograph shows the staff team, I suspect, on the same summer’s evening as the previous one. In the back row, on the left, is three quarters of Chris Smith, the English  teacher who left the school as long ago as 1992:

Next to him is Richard Willan, the best Chairman the Staff Common Room ever had:

Then there is Phil Eastwood, who must be very pleased indeed to see Manchester City doing so well:

Then Bob Dickason, teacher of German and French, who I haven’t seen for a very long time. He left in 1983, to go and teach in France, I believe:

Then there’s Clem Lee, the Head of Games:

There’s Ray Moore with his hair much shorter than when he first arrived. He went to West Bridgford School, I have heard, and had unbelievable success running the girls’ football team.

Then the best man at our wedding, Bob Howard, a friend I miss a lot and who I wish I had seen much more of over the years:

Then Me. That umpire’s coat must be the only thing I have ever worn that’s been too big for me. It also gave me the magic power to balance things on my head with consummate ease:

On the left of the front row is Norman Thompson the Head of Economics who taught at least one future Chancellor of the Exchequer:

Next to him is Harry Latchman, the Groundsman and Cricket Coach. He was the only proper cricketer in the team, having played for both Middlesex and Nottinghamshire and in Minor Counties cricket, for Cambridgeshire. He was elected President of Middlesex County Cricket Club in 2015:

Then comes Tony Slack:

He has already appeared in a post about the First XI football team. In fact, a number of posts about the First XI football team. One. Two. Three.Tony taught Chemistry and then he took charge of the School’s computers. More impressive, he played for the reserves at Rotherham United, and in one game was personally threatened by Charlie Hurley, Sunderland’s Player of the Century:

The final player is the Team Captain, David Phillips, the Maths teacher, who used to run both the Second XV and the Second XI if my memory serves me right. He worked at the High School for 37 years where he was an important rôle model for vast numbers of junior boys:

I don’t know if the staff still have a cricket team. The summer 2017 would mark their 70th Anniversary if they still played any fixtures.

22 Comments

Filed under History, Humour, Nottingham, Personal, The High School

We love you Stalin, we do, we love you Stalin, we do, we love you Stalin……

I found this picture when I was looking for illustrations of Napoleon for the blog posts about the great man I did a little while back. In actual fact I never used it:

That pose of the hand inside the coat was considered quite normal and ordinary at the time of Napoleon, but it was used 140 years later by people who were far from normal and ordinary:

The Russian means “Glory to the Great Stalin!”

All things considered, I think that this is the best Stalin poster I found, though. Here it is:

The Russian means “Thank you, Beloved Stalin for a Happy Childhood!”

Runner-up was the uncaptioned:

That would look just wonderful on the back wall of one of Nottingham’s fast food shops.

“Thank you, Beloved Stalin for some Happy Fish and Chips! “

18 Comments

Filed under Criminology, History, Humour, Politics

Staff cricket : the Golden Years (3)

In a previous post of this series on the heroic deeds of the staff cricket team, I had started going through a number of episodes which are also mentioned in my bestselling book, and my Hollywood and Bollywood screenplay, “Nottingham High School: an Anecdotal History”.  If I remember rightly I had just discussed how crap I was at cricket compared to one prodigiously gifted member of the team who merely needed me to be there to do the fielding while he and the other superstars did all the batting and the bowling and showed off all their talents.

Not that I felt insulted by his words. They did not make me angry. No, Not at all.

The next mention of staff cricket in the book comes on the evening of Wednesday, June 21st 1978.
By then, the staff cricket team had two usual umpires, the young idiot Me, and the much more experienced Allan Sparrow, a History teacher. Whereas the first named umpire, Me, lived in permanent dread of having to make a decision which would upset his elders and betters by sending them back to the pavilion some 96 or so runs short of their century, the senior partner,  Allan Sparrow, true to his own wonderfully analytical character, had no such scruples.
This particular day, in the very first moments of the game, the opposition’s opening bowler managed to trap, plumb in front of the wicket, with his score still stuck on zero, a very important batsman indeed. Standing far away at square leg, the young idiot, Me, thanked the cricketing gods that he was standing far away at square leg and would not be required to make a decision. The shrieked appeal  of “howzat” died away in the quietness of the evening:

Umpire Sparrow waited for a moment. Then he raised the dreaded digit to the skies. What an angry trudge back to the pavilion for a very disappointed batsman . It was the bravest thing I have ever seen in the history of sport.

During the following year of 1979, staff cricket continued on apace, counting among its stars such sporting luminaries as Chris Chittenden, Paul Dawson, Bob Dickason, Claude Dupuy, Phil Eastwood, Steven Fairlie, Simon Jenkins, Dave Phillips, Graham Powell, Tony Slack, Chris Smith, Roger Stirrup and Norman Thompson.

Here’s Bob Dickason, Phil Eastwood, Dave Phillips, Tony Slack, three quarters of Chris Smith, and Norman Thompson:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Claude Dupuy, by the way, was the French assistant, who, after living for a year in Mansfield went back to win the All-France University prize for speaking colloquial English. Chris Chittenden was a Geography teacher who worked at the School in the interval between Charlie Stephens and Bob Howard. Chris had four nationalities. His father was English, he was born in India, his mother was from New Zealand and he was brought up in Australia. Poor, poor man, he lived a healthy life only to be cut down by cancer at just 40 years of age. I will be eternally grateful to him because he was the man who organised for three of us to drive down to Wembley after school one evening to watch England-Holland at football and we all saw Johann Cruyff play at Wembley. And we saw him introduce the Cruyff turn to the world. Here’s Bob Howard:

Such was the fame of the staff team that a member of staff appointed as a teacher for the following Christmas Term actually came along to play in a number of fixtures.

This was Ray Moore, who at the time sported a fashionable Afro hairdo, unencumbered by any such refinement as a protective helmet. Here’s a picture of him a week after the game, when he’d lost that Afro:

On one occasion, Ray was facing an extremely wild fast bowler, whose main interest in life seemed to be scaring the living daylights out of opposing batsmen, with bouncer after bouncer. After a series of whistlingly fast deliveries, he finished his over with a fast, lifting ball, which actually went through Ray’s hair. The moment when Ray advanced down the wicket, shouting loudly, and waving a menacing cricket bat, was, I believe, the closest the staff team ever came to an actual punch-up.

19 Comments

Filed under History, Humour, Nottingham, Personal, The High School