Sep 26, 2009


Perhaps I need to explain that this cartoon originally appeared in a newspaper in late September 1967. Do you get it? No? Ah well…………

Sometimes change creeps up on you and you suddenly remember things you used to do that you never do anymore. (Like listening to Radio Caroline for instance……..). And it isn’t too long ago when a holiday entailed sending postcards to people back home. There’s not much point these days with the constant communication of mobile phones and texting. Now you see people sitting on beaches or at the side of hotel swimming pools with their laptops checking their email (or perhaps writing their blogs!!)

I’m sure you can still get postcards but one day in the not too distant future they’ll completely disappear like the telegram. stop.

Radio Caroline North Postcard 1960s

Radio Caroline North Postcard 1960s back

Radio Caroline 1970s Postcard

Radio CarolinePostcard 1970s back

PS: I always thought his name was Bob Noakes. And I don’t think they achieved an output of 50kW very often !!

Making Out

Sep 21, 2009

making out

Another mystery. Here’s a great BBC TV show that’s never been repeated in almost 20 years and criminally, has never been released on DVD. “Making Out” was one of those rarities with a plot that was uplifting and tragic, funny and sad, feel-good yet true to life all at the same time. The plot(s) revolved around the (complicated) lives of a number of women working in an electronics factory in the north of England.

Originally broadcast around about 1990 it is the only programme I can ever remember (before or since) that I would cancel all other engagements to watch. (Can you remember what a pain it used to be to cue up a VHS tape and set the timer to record something….).  The show was written by Debbie Horsfield who would go on to Write/Produce “Sex, Chips and Rock and Roll” (fab too), “The Riff Raff Element”, “Cutting It” and recently “All the Small Things” amongst others. “Making Out” had believable scripts that were brought to life by great character actors such as Margi Clarke, Shirley Stelfox and the gorgeous Tracie Bennett. I’ve just looked on Amazon and cannot believe this series is unavailable in any format.

Here is a brief sample of the Making Out theme tune.

PS: The theme music and incidental music to “Making Out” was provided by the band New Order. And a paperback was issued in 1991 (although heaven knows what Margi and Tracie would have said when they saw the awful photo put on the cover!).

Deluxe Comics

Sep 18, 2009

Thunder Agents

Deluxe Comics managed just 5 irregular issues of “Wally Wood’s Thunder Agents” between 1984 and 1986. No Wally Wood art was to be seen. He had died in 1981 at a mere 54 years of age. He had however overseen the original run of T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents from Tower Comics in the 1960s. Deluxe Comics were involved in legal action over the rights to these characters with JC Productions who had also tried to revive Thunder Agents in 1983. The case hinged on had Wally Wood owned the characters rather than Tower Comics.

In legal cases over ownership of title the main winners seem to be the lawyers. Until the 1970s it was assumed that any new character invented by a comic book writer or artist immediately became the property of the comic book publisher thanks to the small print that accompanied their payment for script/artwork. This was finally contested in the 1970s and eventually creator-owned characters became the norm. Steve Gerber was unfortunately caught up in these problems with “Howard the Duck”. Although he had devised Howard it was Marvel Comics who owned the character and who could sell the Movie rights. The fascinating account of Mr Gerber’s predicament is here.

PS: Its getting hard to keep track of who owns what these days. Marvel Comics has recently been bought by Disney. Its not for me to say if that is a good or a bad thing…although I wouldn’t be interested in any team-ups between Howard and Donald Duck….or Spiderman and Mickey Mouse………

PPS: And I believe Marvel Comics had recently acquired the rights to our own Marvelman. Which means Disney owns Marvelman. Sometimes I feel like I’m living in some Alternate Universe where everything is the same but different/worse……………

Thunder comics

And talking of Alternate Universes…………….if you’ve never ever visited then now is the time. Here you can see hundreds of comics that never were but might have been……..


Sep 14, 2009

Actually once your brain has accepted change it’s amazing how easy it becomes to throw things away. It only took a mere 6 vanloads and the garage was empty. Then I demolished the garage and had a new one built which now just contains fresh air and a car. Wonderful.

I then turned my attention to inside the house with particular attention to my personal “collections”. First to go was much of the old hi-fi,audio-visual junk. I wonder if one day in the future there will be people who collect early top-loading BETA and VHS video recorders ?  Currently you can’t even give them away… I know because I’ve tried !!!

As I chucked all the old black boxes away it did cross my mind how expensive hi-fi etc in the 1970s to 1990s  was when I was regularly buying it. I was once an “early adopter” and constantly bought the latest gadgets as they first appeared. I must have been mad.  Although I know you can’t really call it  hi-fi back in 1981 this twin cassette recorder cost a massive £99 !!! That was getting on for two week’s wages !!!  No wonder Sir Alan cruises around in a Rolls Royce !!

Twin Cassette Tape Recorder

The next stage is to reduce my book/magazine/comic collection. Luckily at work there is one of those newspaper skips with big slots to post armsfulls of magazines. So far the majority of my motor/motorbike/computer and music magazines (that had already found their way as far as my garage) have now been interred in this skip. I’ve been getting “Autocar” weekly for 30 years. Thats a mind-blowing 1500 issues for that title alone !!!.

Small Car

Sep 11, 2009

Over 100 years ago back in the time of the horseless carriage “Autocar” magazine began in the UK. It is still being published weekly to this day, concentrating on news and roadtests of the latest models.

Between then and now there have been 100s of different magazines about every aspect of cars and motoring. In the 1950s “Practical Motorist” and “Car Mechanics” had huge circulations with their tips on how to keep your car on the road with nothing more than (for example) a wire coathanger and a baked bean can (to repair your silencer with!).

In the 1970s “Hot Car” and “Custom Car” were popular with teenagers (Who me??) who wanted Carlos Fandango Go-Faster things nailed to various parts of their vehicle. The 1980s and 1990s saw an influx of magazines concentrating on Veteran/Vintage/Classic and potential Classic Cars. Their popularity seems to be waning now. And the current car scrappage scheme, rigorous MOTs and the cost of insurance may well end the days of 17 year olds hurtling around in £25 bangers. Incidentally when I was hurtling around in my £25 banger I did expect that if I managed to reach the C21st I would be the proud owner of a George Jetson type flying Jet Car. What went wrong ??

Small Car

In the 1960s there was a car magazine that was somehow different from all the rest. It didn’t tell you how to patch up old cars and it wasn’t completely full of boring road tests. “Small Car” magazine would slowly transform itself into “Car” magazine which by the 1970s had become the most respected car magazine in the world.

LJK Setright

“Car” had articles written by legendary characters such as L.J.K. Setright. Sometimes he used such obscure words you needed to check your dictionary. With his long beard, a monacle and cigarette holder his looks were as eccentric as his articles.

1964 Datsun Bluebird

Back in 1964 “Small Car” magazine was brave enough to print articles such as “I drove home drunk last night – again”. This was a time before the police posessed any technology to check.  Also in this issue was  one of the first reviews in the UK of a Japanese saloon car.  This 1964 Datsun Bluebird  had a manual 3 speed gearbox !! It had an engine size of a mere 1187cc and yet only managed 20 miles per gallon !!  And it needed an oil change every 1000 miles !!! Their verdict was that the UK car manufacturers had nothing to fear from Japan. Little did they, or we, know what the future would bring…………………………

PS: Even in 1964 Morgans were seen as “the last of the real sports cars”. A title their 2009 models still hold today.

Ace of Wands

Sep 9, 2009

You know, it really boggles the mind just how short-sighted were the people working behind the scenes in TV in the 1960s and 1970s. Why on earth did they assume no-one in the future would want to watch their programmes once they had been broadcast (and possibly repeated once). I’m sure it was all down to the Unions, and contracts for actors etc that made them think there would be too much red tape involved in getting approval for further repeats (and no comprehension that in the future there would be 1000 channels rather than the 3 that existed at the time) so they just wiped the reels of video tape and used them again for other shows….. and consequently a treasure trove of important stuff like early Dr Who…and the first series of Ace of Wands…and much much more was lost forever.

Ace of Wands

In the music recording industry they didn’t wipe all the tapes of Frank Sinatra/Doris Day/Johnny Ray etc just because the 1950s had turned into the 1960s. MGM didn’t destroy 1930s Hollywood Musicals. But TV, and certainly British TV in particular, seemed to place little value on anything once it had been broadcast.

“Ace of Wands” ran for 3 seasons 1970 to 1972. The plots centre on a Magician known only as Tarot who along with his girlfriend and sidekick gets mixed up in fighting evil as well as his day job as an Illusionist. Girlfriend and sidekick both changed between the first and third series but Tarot was always played by Michael MacKenzie. Only the third and final season is available on DVD and very entertaining it is too. Supposedly a children’s show originally broadcast on ITV around 5 pm it doesn’t seem too juvenile (lets call it “Kidult”….. which lets face it…..most Fantasy and Science Fiction is…..)  and although it stands the test of time quite well you do need to engage a certain “Austin Powers” mindset not to be put off by the clothes and hairstyles. At the time I envied the hero Tarot’s groovy pad. I wanted to live in a penthouse/warehouse where I could keep my motorbike in the living room too. Sometimes he drove an Alfa Romeo but in other episodes he was seen driving one of the naffest sports cars ever made…..a VW/Porsche 914 !!

PS: Surprisingly in this box set one of the “villains” Tarot has to pit his wits against is none other than Brian Wilde, best remembered for his later appearances on TV as Mr Barrowclough the bumbling prison warder in the comedy “Porridge” and as Foggy Dewhurst in “Last of the Summer Wine”. He actually makes quite a convincing bad guy with his powers of super-hypnosis. I’m looking forward to watching the last episode tonight.

Tarot A

PPS: And I must mention the fab theme tune  with its “cosmic” lyrics like so:-

Jet white dove
Snow black snake
Time has turned his face
From the edge of mystery
Where running is no race
Ageless night
Careless day
Fate reaches out a hand
To touch the edge of destiny
A story without end.

Nuff Said 16

Sep 7, 2009

Knockabout Comics 3

Captain Britain

Sep 4, 2009

Captain Britain

Not exactly the cheapest book I’ve ever bought (£60 !!!) but probably the most enjoyable. Captain Britain began in the mid 1970s as another identikit hero. His origin escapes me. Was he bitten by a radioactive hedgehog or did he find the sword Excalibur leaning against a tree?? I remember being underwhelmed by his pedestrian adventures in the first run of his title (overseen from the USA).

However once he was being handled by writers and artists with imagination this great run of 47 stories from various 1980s UK titles are perhaps the equal of any superheroic antics before or since, including the late/great (soon to be resurrected) Marvelman. Perhaps if I’d got a week or so to spare I could have dug out all my original copies of these magazines featuring Captain Britain. They’ll still be around here somewhere. But it’s nice to have them all collected together in this one volume…and now in colour too……. Highly recommended.

Captain Britain back

Oh, and if you click on the above image it might enlarge enough for you to make out the original comic covers in more detail.