Saturday, 24 December 2011
Back in 1974, Due to the power of blanket advertising (on the back of my weekly B&W reprint Marvel Comics) I knew that the Marvel Treasury Special - Superhero Holiday Grab-Bag would be the perfect accompaniment to my Christmas, like cranberry sauce and turkey. Even though Marvel had coyly avoided using the word 'Christmas' on the cover, the surfeit of holly wreathing some of my favourite heroes (Spider-Man, The Thing, The Hulk) smelt strongly and evocatively of the festive season. In the UK we still don't opt to say 'Happy Holidays' - afterall, what could be less offensive than Christmas? And I've even known Sikhs who had Christmas presents as children (from their parents) and Jewish friends and co-workers who seemed to send a heck of a lot of Christmas cards. Nearly twenty years ago when I worked for the Attorney General I remember that he received a Christmas card from the CIA. So Christmas really is for everyone...even the CIA.
Pester power failed in 1974 and I didn't get the Holiday Grab-Bag - although I did get the rather more expensive Avengers annual for 1975 (Don Heck, Avengers and X-Men versus Magneto) so I can hardly complain. Those annuals were printed with a garish almost fluorescent ink which emitted a strong smell which filled the whole room you were reading in. The odour has almost gone now, but if I crush my nose against the pages of that annual and breathe deeply it's as good as a time machine- I'm straight back to 1974. I recall that both publications had Captain America on the cover and I had no idea who he was. But I thought he had a cool costume.
I finally picked up the Grab-Bag at a London comic fair in the 1990's. That allows me to give you the Christmas greeting from the back cover which is a 180 reverse view of the heroes leaping through the holly wreath .
May you have PEACE ON EARTH and GOOD WILL TOWARD MEN...UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN!
Sunday, 4 December 2011
It is December 1969 in this picture and so I am three and half years old. It was taken in the Co-op Department Store on Parliament Street in Nottingham. As part of the queueing system that year you took a ride on a rocket ship to Santa's Grotto on the moon. So in this picture I think I am on the moon. The white cap is my complimentary Nottingham Co-op Astronaut hat and I still have the button badge I am wearing on my lapel. I was still in a push chair and my push chair couldn't fit on the rocket so the Co-op ladies wheeled it around to the Moon Grotto while we were "in flight" - watching a graphic representation of our trip to the moon on a circular screen.
I have no clear recollection of what I am saying but the family story is that I am asking for cufflinks for my father (he's had a pair stolen from his desk at work) and that I am asking for a bottle of gin for my mother (she didn't drink gin - obviously) primed to do this by my Dad because it would embarass her.
And this year is the first year I have not had to engage in the compulsory perpetuation of the Santa myth while I've been a parent...oh the relief...the lack of sneaking about...it's like I've been one of the elders in the M. Night Shyalmalan movie 'The Village' these last few years.