Sunday, 19 February 2017


Pin-up of The THING, FF #2.  Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Are you in for a treat!  No, that's not a question, it's a
statement of fact.  ALAN McKENZIE, writer, editor, and a
former wearer of the mantle of THARG, has graciously written
the following guest post which you're all about to read (if you're
smart).  I'm making a rod for my own back here, because once
you've read Al's post, the ones I write in the future may seem
disappointing by comparison.  Never mind, I'll just have to
up my game.  Ready?  Okay, Al - take it away.


I was thinking about The Thing recently.  Mostly because I
was writing a post over on my 'Marvel in the Silver Age' blog, all
about the Human Torch stories in Marvel's Strange Tales mags
of the early '60s.  Back then, it seemed that no one could agree on what
The Thing looked like.  Even Jack Kirby drew him in different ways
in different titles...or so I thought.  But as I started to look at different
comics that included the character during those formative years,
it seemed more and more like there was a definite timeline.

Narrow doorways?  Then how did he get into the store?  (From FF #1)

In the first few issues of Fantastic Four, Jack Kirby was draw-
ing The Thing like a big shapeless lump of orange clay.  This 'mud-
slide' Thing would last just a few months before Kirby started to tinker
with his appearance.  So in the first issue of FF (dated Nov 1961, on sale
in Aug), Ben Grimm's monstrous alter ego looked...well, kinda monstrous.
There's no real shape to him.  His head seems to join directly to his shoul-
ders without the benefit of a neck.  I'm guessing Kirby's thinking here was
to make him look like a heavyweight wrestler, or an over-developed body- brown underpants.  And he acted all monstrous, as well.  He
seemed constantly in a bad mood and there was a real sense of danger
to the character.  There was also a weird undercurrent that he
fancied Sue Storm and wanted her for himself.

Yeah, right.  Lose your temper, reach for a tree.  I do it all the time

It's been said elsewhere that the cosmic quartet are based on
alchemical elements.  Mister Fantastic is Water, because his body
can flow into any shape.  The Human Torch is Fire, of course.  The
Invisible Girl is Air.  And The Thing is Earth...which fits his 'mud-
slide' appearance.  The second issue of FF (dated Jan '62) included a pin-
up of The Thing, which gave us a really good look at the character, pen-
cilled by Jack Kirby and inked by George Klein.  There's no reason to
think that Klein was in any way stamping his own version of The Thing
on top of Kirby's original pencils.  This would have been the way
Kirby was drawing the character at this point.

The THING rips off his costume.  Be still my beating heart

With FF #3 (dated Mar '62), there was a bit of a shift away from
super-powered individuals in street clothes.  My guess is that Stan
Lee wanted the characters to have costumes - or maybe it was publisher
Martin Goodman - but anyhow, first chance he got, The Thing ripped
his costume to shreds, so there's not much doubt on where Kirby stood.
('Though, on the pencils for page 7, Sue was wearing a mask, her intention
being they'd all cover their faces - but it was erased before inking.)  There
wasn't any real change in FF #5, except that The Thing was now in blue
underpants and black booties.  He was still the same old mudslide, pen-
cilled by Kirby and inked, for the first time, by Joe Sinnott.  Below
is a nice page of original art from FF #5 which better shows how
the character looked at this point in his development.

In FF #6 (dated Sep '62), inked by Dick Ayers for the first time,
The Thing has lost the black booties and gained a neck.  There seemed
to be a move away from the mudslide look and Ayers was rendering Ben
Grimm as though his skin had the texture of dinosaur hide.  And this look
would persist for the next year and a bit, so I'd always believed that's just
what Kirby had intended.   But here's something startling I noticed.  Take
a look (below) at how Jack drew The Thing on the cover of FF #7 (dated
Nov '62), just a year after his initial appearance.  It's the 'blocky' Thing
readers would later come to know and love, but more commonly asso-
ciate with the character's look in 1964.  And we know this is what
JK intended because he inked his own cover pencils on #7.

Meanwhile, inside the mag, The Thing is inked by Ayers to look
like he has dinosaur hide.  For the next year or so, we'd continue to
have the dinosaur-hide Thing in the Ayers-inked stories.  I'm not saying
Ayers invented the dinosaur-hide look.  In fact, below is a pencil sketch
by Kirby which was probably done in the early part of '62...but I do think
Ayers was responsible for keeping the dinosaur-hide Thing going (pos-
sibly at Stan's instruction) long past the point when JK had moved
on from that particular look.

1962 pencil drawing of The THING for

There he goes, ripping off his clothes again - swoon!  (FF #18)

With FF #18 (dated Sep '63), the blocky Thing made another
appearance, on the cover, inked by Paul Reinman...though inside
the comic, we still had the Ayers dinosaur-hide Thing.  It wouldn't be
until Ayers was moved onto other assignments by Stan, that George
Roussos (as Bell) would come in - at FF #21 (dated Dec '63) - and
start inking The Thing the way that Jack Kirby was pencilling all his blocky glory.

The rocky, blocky THING that fans came to know and love

And just because I came across them while looking for
images for this article, above is a Jack Kirby pencil drawing of
The Fantastic Four from 1965 (Marie Severin redrew The Torch
figure), and a later one from 1977, both depicting the familiar blocky
Thing.  Much, much later, other hands - John Byrne, I'm looking at
you - would revive the look of good old mudslide Thing for an enter-
taining run of issues (during his tenure from FF #232, dated Jul 1981 -
#293, dated Aug '86).  In #238, Mister Fantastic tried once again to
cure Ben's condition...the outcome was that The Thing reverted
to his original, mudslide appearance.  The condition would last
for a couple of years before The Thing mutated again...

...but that's a tale for another time.


And a great big Criv-ite thanks to Al for taking the time
and trouble to write this fascinating guest post.  Be sure to
register your appreciation in our comments section.


You can write your own caption for the beautiful
BERNADETTE PETERS.  I'm off for a lie down.

Saturday, 18 February 2017


A TV show I loved in the 1970s was ROOBARB
& CUSTARD, narrated by RICHARD BRIERS.  The
animation was shaky (deliberately so), the storylines were
mental, and the theme tune was brilliant.  I was glad to see
some comic strips based on the show in the TV COMIC
Annual for 1977 (which I bought near the end of '76),
so I thought you might like to see them too.

(TV Comic Annual 1977 - the gift that keeps on giving.)


I don't know if BARNEY BEAR ever appeared in
a comic strip in America, but he had his own page in the
weekly TV COMIC here in Britain.  The strips featured
in this post were drawn by BILL TITCOMBE, one of
the finest cartoonists this country ever produced.

So, enjoy a trilogy of Barney Bear strips from TV
Comic Annual for 1977 (issued in '76).  Go on, have
a laugh on me.  (On, I said, not at, you rascals.)

(Note that the stories have an element of wit about
them, usually lacking in today's offerings.  If they were
still writing them like this, maybe more people would
be buying what few British comics remain.)

Friday, 17 February 2017


As related in a recent post, TV COMIC ceased weekly
publication in June 1984 after an unbroken run of nearly thirty-
four years.  However, it made three more last-gasp appearances
before it finally vanished from U.K. newsagents.  First there was an
Annual for 1985 (released near the end of '84), and then a 1985
Holiday Special.  This was followed a year later by a Holiday
Extra, containing a mix of strips and activity pages.

It's not unheard of for Annuals to continue for years after a
weekly comic's demise, KNOCKOUT being a prime example.
Knockout comic was published for only two years from 1971 to
'73, but the Annual lasted from 1972 (for '73) to 1984 (for
'85) - a total of thirteen books over twelve years.

the same thing with the TV Comic Annual (although it
was probably prepared before the weekly was cancelled) -
but, alas, it was not to be.  There was no Annual for the
following year, or indeed, any year thereafter.

With the 1986 Special 'done and dusted', the once-
popular TV Comic had finally fallen foul to an unfriendly
fate in the face of a feckless following forsaking it for
friendlier fields.

  Such, as they say, is life.   


Hi, Criv-ite chums.  Can you do me a favour?
At the bottom of each post is a three-choice option
of approval - funny, interesting and cool.  After
perusing or commenting on any of my pulsating posts,
could you register your reaction by clicking on one
of the boxes?  It'd be much appreciated.  Ta.

Thursday, 16 February 2017


This photo of ABIGAIL RATCHFORD poses an interesting
question.  Namely, the water is only 2 inches deep - so how does
she manage to pose in it?  Is she standing in a hole perhaps?
(Or am I just talking my usual load of old cobblers?)

Wednesday, 15 February 2017


Here's another tale about 'Bob Billens', which
ably illustrates how some people who think they know
what they want don't actually have a Scooby about how
things work.  The sheer level of stupidity involved is
difficult to believe.  Here's what happened.

'Bob' had recently taken a comedy writing course
and was convinced he'd the talent to earn extra dosh
by supplying humour sketches to radio and TV shows.
Amazingly, he did actually provide some material to a few
shows, but never really managed to make much of a mark.
However, he decided to get a business card printed for
this new enterprise and asked me if I'd provide an
illustration for it.  (As a favour, obviously.)

Demonstrating an amazingly 'original' touch of
'creativity' (that's sarcasm by the way), he asked me
to draw a 'cartoon' of a kilt-wearing Scotsman carrying
a giant pen.  (I can't recall whether I originally drew him
with a 'tam o' shanter' or added it later at Bob's request.)
I duly produced the cliched caricature and sent it off to
him, only to receive a list of 'improvements' by return
post.  (This was in the mid-1980s - the internet
hadn't yet conquered the world.)

Make him taller and thinner with a longer face,
make his legs hairy, give him a bottle of whisky with
a triple 'x' on the label;  add garters to his socks, change
his boots to brogues, and give him a tattoo - all of which I
did in double-quick time.  Reinforcing the stereotype of
the drunken Scottish bampot may have seemed like a
stroke of comedy genius to Bob, but I didn't think
it was particulary inventive - or funny.

Anyway, I eventually received one of his cards
and I couldn't  believe it.  (Call me Victor.)  In order
to reduce the figure I'd drawn to a size the card would
accommodate, he'd photocopied it many times over,
making it smaller with each copy 'til it fitted.

Not only had most of the linework been wiped
out with each successive copy, the figure on the fin-
ished card was only a few millimeters high, rendering
the detail he'd requested redundant from the very start.
What a tube!  Talk about wanting the Book of Genesis
on a postage stamp?  This was seriously rippin' the p*ss.
What's worse was, he'd clumsily and ineptly tried to
retouch the missing linework, making a total pig's
ear of the whole thing in the process. 

But guess what?  He was actually quite pleased
with the card, believing it was his 'input' which had
resulted in something bound to impress everyone who
saw it.  To me, the only impression it would've made was
that the card-holder was deluded.  I subsequently used
the figure on a leaflet for a restaurant, but not before I
made a mental note to be 'busy' should Bob ever
ask for my help on any future 'projects'.

I still shake my head in disbelief at the memory.
I'll add scans of the card and his 'instructions' when
I remember where I put them, but in the meantime, the
figure at the top of the post was copied from the origi-
nal drawing some years ago.  (I omitted the whisky
 and pen as they were surplus to requirements.) 

Tuesday, 14 February 2017


The lovely IMOGEN HASSALL stares
longingly at me from across the room, as I
prance about in my YOGI BEAR under-
pants.  I know how to dress to impress -
and so does the delightful Imogen.


Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

You may recall me mentioning 'Bob Billens' twice
or thrice before on this blog.  'Bob' was a university grad-
uate who tended to think he was far smarter than just about
everyone he knew.  I remember once mispronouncing a word
and he took immense delight in correcting me.  He was quite an
arrogant person now that I think of it, and perhaps he suffered
from 'small angry man syndrome' because of his diminished
height.  He was a composite of Bob and Terry from The
Likely Lads, in that he had Bob's status-seeking
aspirations and Terry's verbal aggression.

When he and his wife moved down to England in (I
think) the early '80s, we stayed in touch via 'phone calls
and 'cassette-a-letters'.  These were cassette tapes contain-
ing 'monologues' and music, similar in style to a radio show,
wherein we'd inform the other as to what was happening in our
respective lives, and intersperse it with some of our favourite
songs.  I can't recall which of us it was (unless I listen to his
tapes again, which I still have), but one of us included the
& TITANIUM MAN on one of our 'shows'.

If he played it, he came on after it ended and said
"As you'll probably know, the Crimson Dynamo is DC's
character RED TORNADO."  If I played it, that's what he
said in his next tape when he responded to mine.  Not that it
matters I suppose.  I'd have to check, but I have a sense that
Bob might've been home on a visit to his in-laws before I'd
had the opportunity to reply to his tape, so I may've told
him this in person.  "Actually, he's MARVEL's The
Crimson Dynamoa foe of IRON MAN."

It was clear from the feeble excuses he made that
he didn't like being caught in an error.  "Well, Marvel's
your bag, I'm more of a DC fan.  Blah, blah, blah!"  True,
I had (good-humouredly) rubbed his face in it, but as he was
usually so smug in his assumed superiority, he was begging to
be taken down a couple of pegs - so I took him down.  I may
not have gone to university, but I'd shown him I knew more
about one of his favourite subjects (comicbooks) than he
did.  (And I could beat him at arm wrestling, so I was
well ahead in points, if not in academic qualifica-
tions.  "Kid is big, Kid is strong.")

I'll say one thing for him 'though - his ego was bigger
than mine (and mine's plenty big).  Whether or not his
was equalled by actual ability is something I never found
out, but I doubt it.  After all, nobody could be that good.
(And, on the off-chance that he might one day read this
and dispute its veracity, my trusty solicitors Hunt,
Blunt & Cunningham are standing by.)


Blackpool, 1973.  I'm sat on a deckchair next to my parents in the
Sun Lounge of the famous North Pier, half-listening to the organist,
RAYMOND WALLBANK, and reading the above paperback, when all
of a sudden a high-pitched screech pierces the air:  "Elsie...ELSIE!  Over
here...OVER HERE!  Cooooo-eeeee...ELSIE!"  The voice belonged to
an elderly lady sat next to a companion, who was frantically flapping her
handkerchief in an attempt to attract the attention of the aforementioned
Elsie, who had just arrived.  Thankfully, Elsie heard her friend (as did
residents on the far side of Blackpool, I would imagine) and soon
took up the designated place beside her.

"I'm so glad you found Elsie!", quipped Raymond, good-naturedly,
at the end of his tune.  Even I, as an uncouth 14 year-old, recognized
the woman's bad manners in interrupting the performance to hail her
pal, but I soon re-immersed myself in my book.  True, technically, I was
perhaps likewise disrespectful in not paying full attention to Raymond,
but at least I was unlikely to disturb anyone else's enjoyment while
indulging in the object of my literary preoccupation.

Anyway, today I took possession of a replacement of the very
book I read 44 years ago, as a 14 year old youth on Blackpool Pier.
I obtained it from AMAZON for a mere penny - 39 pence short of what
the book cost brand-new four decades back.  True, I paid £2.80 for post
and packing, but I'd probably still have had to pay that if the book had
cost me a tenner, so let's not get bogged down in mere details.
(Even if I started it.)

If I recall rightly, I'd been to see LIVE LET DIE not too
long before our visit to the famous seaside resort, so the film was
still fresh in my mind.  Also, the day before our departure, I'd acquired
the 2nd edition CORGI TOYS ASTON MARTIN DB5 diecast spy-car,
which I took with me on holiday.  I'd purchased it in one of my local R.S.
McCOLL's, and although it was 1973, it was the original, '68 model in
the blister pack instead of a box.  (Must've been old stock, I guess.
And, yes - I managed to replace it some time back.)

The difference between the newer version of the car and the
original 1965 gold-coloured model was that, unlike its predecessor,
it was an actual DB5.  The previous incarnation had been rushed into
production at the last minute, so existing moulds of a DB4 were swiftly
modified and pressed into production.  In 1967/'68, Corgi Toys created
completely new tooling, and, as well as being a slightly larger scale, the
new car was the correct silver birch colour and sported revolving
number-plates and rear tyre-slashers, as well as all three of the
original features on the earlier release.

But I digress.  Returning to the book, there are still bits I recall
even after all these years:  Roger chipping a tooth and requiring root
canal work;  having to shoot the wedding/motorboat scene again due to
a steering mishap;  the sign 'TRESPASSERS WILL BE EATEN' being
the actual sign of the crocodile farm, and not an invention of the film-
makers.  I'm not sure if the book was ever republished, but the copy I
received today is a first-printing and in extremely good condition.
Not bad for one 'new' penny, eh?

So, here's to that long-ago holiday in Blackpool, and all the
comicbooks purchased back then;  the Aston Martin, Roger's book,
Elsie and her pals - and last but not least - the cool-as-a-cucumber Mr.
Raymond Wallbank, who sadly died in 2010.  He played on the North
Pier from 1965 to 1995, a period of 30 years in all.  When I eventually get
around to re-reading the book, you can bet your boots I'll have another
hearty chuckle at the memory of Raymond's humorous and gentle
'remonstrance' on that sunny July afternoon back in 1973.


Incidentally, prior to that day on the North Pier, I'd thought that
the cry of "Cooooo-eeeee!" was a word only ever used in films or
comics, not in real life.  After all, it wasn't actually a 'real' word used by
'real' people, was it?  Or so I'd thought until that June or July day in Black-
pool back in 1973.  As far as I can recall, that was the first, last and only
time I've ever heard it being used  - outside, that is, of someone
perhaps using it in an affected manner for humorous effect.


We returned to Blackpool on holiday the next year, 1974, and
that was the last holiday I ever had - never been away since.  My
parents returned several times over the decades, and may well have
sat on the North Pier listening to Raymond again on quite a few occa-
sions, but I did so only once.  Odd to think that the initial shared family
experience was likely repeated, but without my presence.  Strange
what passes through one's mind while reminiscing, eh?

In memory of Raymond Wallbank - born August 8th, 1932,
  died February 16th, 2010.


Image copyright DC COMICS

When I was a teenager, I pronounced DARKSEID's
name as 'Darkseed', not 'Darkside' as JACK KIRBY had
intended.  There are accounts of Jack at comic cons in the '70s
where kids would refer to 'Darkseed' and Jack didn't correct
them, he'd simply pronounce the name the same as they'd
done to avoid embarrassing any of his young fans.

All very laudable, but when I eventually learned how
the baddie's name was meant to be pronounced, I wondered
why Jack hadn't simply spelled the name of the NEW GODS
nemesis as 'DARKSYDE', so as to avoid confusion over how
to say it.  Okay, perhaps 'Darkseid' looks better in print, but if
everyone mispronounces it, it sort of defeats the intention of
calling him that to begin with, don'tcha think?  I'm surprised
DC didn't ask Jack to change the spelling before Dark-
seid's debut in JIMMY OLSEN #134.

I think this was one of the problems with Kirby's DC
output - he needed someone to rein him in from time to
time, and help refine and polish some of his ideas until they
were as good as they can be.  An editor like STAN LEE for
example, whose input was invaluable on Jack's work over at
MARVEL, would have improved the FOURTH WORLD
series of mags no end, and they could well have had a
far longer run than they actually managed.

That's why it took me a while to warm to Jack's new
titles for the Distinguished Competition - the art looked
the same as his Marvel mags, but didn't read the same - not
to begin with anyway.  It took a while to get used to Kirby's
idiosyncratic scripting, and some readers who followed him
over to DC didn't stick around after the first few issues
because the mags just didn't 'read right'.

That's my take on things anyway.  What think the
rest of you Criv-ites?  Why not weigh in with your view
in our captivating and occasionally controversial com-
  ments section?  Nothing beats a good rammy!  

Monday, 13 February 2017


I remember hearing that EMILY had a saggy,
furry ol' cloth cat called BAGPUSS, but I think
that was a different Emily.  I'll refrain from spec-
ulation about the condition of this Emily's pu...
oo-er, I'd better not say that - you lot all have
dirty minds and are bound to misconstrue it.


Images copyright DC COMICS

"I don't believe it!" as VICTOR MELDREW would say.  It's now
been almost 20 years since I bought the first issue of this 8 issue reprint
series of MAD - from the era when it was a comicbook rather than a maga-
zine.  Yup, as every true comics fan will know, Mad started life as a comic-
book, in the same format as other 'funny books' of the time.  I already had
these comics in a deluxe slipcase set of four hardback volumes, but there
was something appealing about seeing them in something resembling
their original incarnations, as far as paper quality goes at least.

Well-worth having, and if you don't fancy shelling out big bucks for
the hardback volumes, I'd imagine that these 8 classics should be fairly
easy and - more to the point - inexpensive to track down on eBay.  Even
if you're not consumed with a burning desire to own these great comic
mags, I'm sure you'll all still enjoy seeing the colourful covers.

So - here they are.

Sunday, 12 February 2017


I saw the lovely IMOGEN HASSALL in an
old episode of The SAINT recently, and in the
credits her surname was misspelt as 'Hassell'.
Still, a rose by any other name, eh?


The view from one of my old classroom windows -
now demolished.  (The school, not just the window)

Regular readers will be aware by now that one of the chief delights of
my life when younger was gazing out of my classroom windows and losing
myself in daydreams.  What cared I about matters pertaining to geography,
history, maths and the like?  I was too busy flying around the sky or saving
the world - in my fertile imagination, at least.  Sometimes I wasn't quite so
energetic in my fantasies, and was content just to watch the clouds glide
by in languid motion, going wherever it is that clouds go to.

It should therefore come as no surprise to anyone to learn that
I still like to gaze out of windows today, observing the comings and
goings of neighbourhood residents, the antics of assorted dogs, cats,
birds, squirrels and foxes, and whatever else happens in a typical street.
And yes, I still enjoy just watching the clouds drift by or contemplating
the rain pattering off the pavement.  Recently, however, I've become
aware of just how few people I actually recognise in their daily per-
ambulations past the panoramic perimeters of my property.

There are now only two faces I can identify from around the
time I first came to this house over forty years ago.  One was here
before we moved to the area, the other took up residence a year or two
after we arrived.  There are others who've lived here for maybe twenty or
thirty years, but for some curious reason I still regard them as 'newbies'
and not yet established in the neighbourhood firmament.  Strange how
them not living here within the first few years of my arrival makes
them seem like newcomers I haven't quite adjusted to yet.

The view from my old bedroom window, with my school in sight

There's a possibility that one of the old, familiar faces may sell up
and move on in the not too distant future, and the other is retired and
getting on in years.  When the last link to how things once used to be has
finally gone, I wonder just how I'll react to being surrounded by complete
strangers with no connection to my younger days back in the early 1970s.
I've noticed a feeling of 'displacement' gradually creeping up on me over
the last few years as more and more 'well-kent' faces have faded from
my everyday experience, and sometimes I almost feel like I'm the
stranger who doesn't quite belong in these here parts.

It's then that I immerse myself in comicbooks from four decades
ago and re-live the early years of when I first moved to this house, in
an attempt to recapture the mood, the ambiance, the atmosphere - the
flavour - of what it was like to live here back in the sensational '70s,
when I was practically just a lad not too far removed from the start
of my journey through life and all it had to offer.

Then I lose myself in visions of the past;  where long-gone local
worthies yet walk the streets beyond my windows - living, breathing,
laughing and chatting as they did in bygone days, before they gradually
fell, one by one, victims to time.  I seek refuge in a place and a period
which now exist only in memory, populated by the ghosts of yesterday,
and the knowledge is not lost on me that, one day, my 'continuance'
will consist of being nothing more than a lingering echo in the
minds of others.

Saturday, 11 February 2017


"Do you want some super sex?" trilled the
devastatingly dynamic DANA GILLESPIE.
"Both - I'll have the soup afterwards!" I said.
Hah!  I'd outfoxed her again!  The soup?  It
was tomato soup- very tasty too.


"Why are you called 'Kid'?  Is it because you act like one?"

If I had a pound for every time I've been asked that, I'd have -
well, I'd have a pound actually, so I don't suppose there's really much
interest in the topic.  However, I have to fill this blog with something,
so - assuming you'll bear with me in yet another act of shameless self-
indulgence - I shall address the issue in the forlorn hope that any-
body even remotely cares.

There was a period during my early teenage years when I
called everyone "kid".  It was short, snappy, and it meant never having
to worry about remembering people's names.  One day, I ran into a pal of
mine in the company of a group of his friends.  Anticipating my familiar,
well-worn greeting, he thought he'd get in first in a daring act of mockery
at my little peccadillo.  (Feel free to supply your own amusing rejoinder
to that last sentence.)  "Hi Kid!", he said with a cheeky grin upon his
smug countenance, immensely satisfied with himself for - in his
mind - 'beating me to the punch'.

His pals were unaware
of his intended 'irony' how-
ever, and merely assumed it
to be my nickname.  But ours
is a drama  decreed by the
fates to be acted out (always
loved that line by LARRY
LIEBER);  I subsequently
became friendly with that
little group, who - in their
innocence - always referred
to me by that appellation.
And so the name stuck and
I've been known as "Kid"
- to them and to others -
ever since.

But whence came the habit which led to me effectively naming
myself?  Why did I call people "kid" to begin with?  I'm glad I pretended
you asked.  Back in the early '70s, there was a brilliant comedy show called
BOLAM and RODNEY BEWES.  In fact, as they had alternating billing
from week to week, if you re-read that last sentence, reverse the order
of their names so that I don't hear from their agents or solicitors.

Although the programme was a comedy, it also had pathos, poignancy
and profundity - otherwise known as the three Ps.  During the course of
their frequent nostalgia-laden soliloquies, the characters often addressed
each other as "kid" or "kidda".  In my devotion to the programme and my
desire to emulate my heroes, I adopted the practice of referring to everyone
I knew (and some I didn't) as "kidda", which resulted in some puzzled looks.
You see, the words "kidda" and "kidder" sound pretty similar when pro-
nounced with a lazy Glaswegian accent, and this made folks think I
was accusing them of pulling my leg in some way.

"Kidder?" they'd say in a
slightly bewildered manner
(likewise mispronouncing it as
"kidda") - "Kiddin' about what?"
Well, it didn't take me too long to
realize that adopting the shorter
option -"kid" - would avoid any
unnecessary confusion amongst
my sturdy band of companions
and free me from having to end-
lessly explain myself.  It could've
been worse.  I'd once been in the
habit of exclaiming "Jings, man!"
in response to anything of even
a vaguely interesting or sur-
prising nature.

    This inevitably led to all my friends and acquaintances calling me
"Jings-Man" every time I appeared on the horizon.  Fortunately, I soon
dropped the use of this 'oath' (doubtless acquired from reading too many
BROONS and OOR WULLIE strips in The SUNDAY POST) and thus
escaped any long-term association with the term which could've resulted
in lasting damage to my delicate sensibilities.  I much prefer being called
"Kid" - or "Sir", even.  (In fact, now that I come to think about it,
"Master" is good as well.)

And there you have it!  The hitherto secret origin of how I gained my
teenage nickname which has remained with me to this day.  And you also
have an object lesson in the art of writing something about nothing - but
you should only ever do so if your very life depends on it, so I have
absolutely no excuse.
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