Saturday 24 December 2011

The Ghost of Christmas Past 2

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 .


Sunday 4 December 2011

Ghosts of Christmas Past

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's like I've been one of the elders in the M. Night Shyalmalan movie 'The Village' these last few years.

Wednesday 9 November 2011

From My Bookshelf: Gullivar Jones

I first encountered Lieutenant Gullivar Jones in Marvel's British weekly black and white reprints where he was updated to be a Vietnam veteran transported to Mars by dying Martian wizard Lu-Pov (an in-joke over the name of Richard Lupoff - I guess). He immediately became one of my fave characters and I really loved the art (although I wasn't big on reading credits boxes at age 8) by Gil Kane, Ross Andru and Gray Morrow.

Later I also obtained reprints of the original novel - by Edwin L Arnold (also author of Phra the Phoenician) - as a kid I didn't get too far into this before I realised that it was quite different to the comic book. To be honest, a little tamer... the comic strip had been really jazzed up to make it more like John Carter of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Re-reading the novel just recently I found it to be quite beautifully written and very humourous too. I wouldn't be the first person to see the influence of The Time Machine on the story - yes, the Hither and Thither (!) people are reminiscent of the Eloi and the Morlocks but the inclusion of the magic carpet as Gullivar's mode of transport to Mars seems to bring us into the Arabian Nights style of storytelling. Joe Petagno's cover has Gullivar (re-spelled as Gulliver in these editions) surfing to Mars on his carpet while the sublime Frazetta cover of the Ace edition has Gully Jones at the feet of two battling titanic Martian monsters like a character in a Harryhausen movie.

Oh yeah, I mentioned that Arnold's other book was Phra the Phoenician and of course Gullivar in the comic book encounters a huge humanoid amphibian called Phra.

Saturday 5 November 2011

Bonfire Night!

For those suffering the disappointment of a lack of live-blogging regarding trick or treaters on Monday; I was visited by inumerable skeletons, witches, ghosts, vampires and one very tiny Batman.

Tonight is Bonfire Night...which here at Gately Mansion we'll be celebrating with masses of fireworks (a curry!) and no bonfire. And if you're setting off fireworks follow the firework code - as advised by Guy Fawkes himself in this Standard Fireworks ad from 1974.

By the way, I am old enough to remember fireworks that you were allowed to hold - one was called the Olympic Torch - and also a rather terrifying hovering and spinning firework called The Flying Saucer (natch!).

Sunday 30 October 2011

Halloween Part 1 - Growing Up Slightly Spooked...

It felt like I grew up on the very edge of the countryside; only a few hundred yards away were open fields. My street was the penultimate street before farmland, the first house on a development of houses built on sold off land that had belonged to a large house...and if this was a Stephen King story the big old house - it doesn't even seem too big when I look at it now - would be the focus of this tale, but it isn't, so it isn't (if you're still with me).

We had a long thin garden and at the end of our garden beyond the hedge was a group...I hesitate to say street for there didn't seem to be any roads...of derelict cottages. And they were really, really old. I hear 16th or 17th Century most frequently in relation to them and maybe at some stage our garden had been their rubbish heap because it was full of broken fragments of claypipe - little white tubes (my Dad even found a pretty much whole pipe and smoked it for a while...very Solomon Kane!).

These cottages were pretty creepy - and one - seemed to be the largest was very near the hedge and seemed to overlook my garden from a single large broken window. I say overlooked...what I imagined was a witch watching me from the window as I played. A witch probably inspired by the Witch from the Dutch TV show 'Paulus the Gnome' which played on my local ITV station. I sometimes mentioned the witch to my mother at a very young age (4? 5?) but I couldn't have been that scared because I took to creeping through a hole in the hedge into the grounds of the cottages. I tended to confine myself to the 'gardens' rather than dare go into the houses. But I did notice things inside the houses...someone had carried a bale of straw from the fields and opened it up in one room to make bedding. Giving me the erroneous impression that some invisible creature was trying to make the place more comfortable. "Probably a tramp," explained my mother. But we didn't get a lot of tramps out in the country. I suppose teenagers/courting couples was more likely but they too must've been very low profile.

As I grew older I realised that what I had thought was a witch was a broken section of plaster on the far wall beyond the window. I now perceived the shape to be more like a sailing ship...broad sails and gib instead of pointy nose and hat.

Around the age of six I came home one day and the quality of light in the back garden seemed different...and I swear...I was able to relax and breathe slightly more easily. It took a moment to realise what had happened. Without warning, in the course of a single day the spooky old cottages had been demolished. The setting sun made long shadows on our vegetable patch and lawn in ways it had never been able to previously.

That evening I snuck through the hedge again and surveyed a mass of broken bricks that stood in front of me like a mountain. Whatever lived in there ghost, monster or witch could not have survived that...

Then a voice suddenly shouted at me in the semi-darkness of this overgrown and wrecked garden.
"Little boys aren't allowed to play in here!" The black and beastly monstrous shape resolved itself to be a security guard with a big German Shepherd dog. With my heart in my mouth I dove through the hedge like a rabbit and never returned (to what would soon be just a rather mundane building site).

The cottages only exist now in the terrain of my imagination and a totally unreadable novella I penned at age 16 under heavy Stephen King and James Herbert influence. And if I have chance tomorrow I'm going to try live blogging updates on the number of trick or treaters who come to my door with general observations on the celebration of Halloween during my lifetime in the UK. See you then my people.

Saturday 15 October 2011

Paul Temple - The Gilbert Case

If there are any other obsessive Paul Temple fans out there, don't forget that a new story started this week and is available on BBC iplayer.

Where the Heck...

I've wanted to visit Meteor Crater in Arizona since I first saw a picture of it in a Ladybird Book circa 1972. The Apollo astronauts used the bottom of the crater for training purposes hence the spacesuit 'standee.'

Tuesday 11 October 2011

The Surprise Return of 'Where the Heck'

It's been a long time since we played...but where the heck is this? And for those who find this too easy: Where am I in the image I'm currently using as a Facebook profile image?

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes

It takes very little provocation for me to witter on endlessly about the genius of Billy Wilder's movie 'The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes' - the plot is quite twisty and turny so it seems strange that the movie poster (as seen here on the cover of Movie Collector Magazine July/August 1994) looks to me like one massive spoiler...
It also has one of the most haunting musical scores ever written for a movie...and...the most frightening (totally without warning/broad-daylight) TV moment of my childhood in the Glen Nahurich cemetery when the 'little boys' visit the grave of their brother. If you've seen the movie you won't have forgotten that sequence.

Monday 26 September 2011

Tales of the Shadowmen 8 - Agents Provocateurs

It's the time of year when your mind is probably turning to the Christmas gifts you intend to buy for your hard to please relatives. I suggest that Tales of the Shadowmen Volume 8 - Agents Provocateurs from Black Coat Press
would probably make an ideal gift for well, practically anyone who enjoys well written fantastic fiction. Modesty very nearly prevents me from pointing out that this volume contains my story 'Leviathan Creek' - which coincidentally features Gaston Leroux's character Joseph Rouletabille - who is kinda sorta the inspiration for the TV character Jonathan Creek. Oh, take a risk and buy a copy for everyone you know...

Saturday 24 September 2011

What to do when your son outgrows Spider-man and you still haven't...

And so it came to pass, in early December 1974 (when I was almost eight and half years old) that I trudged through the snow the mile and a smidge from my parent's house into town to the bakers to buy several large 'bloomer' style loaves of bread (don't laugh). My imagination is summoning up a recollection of deep snow drifts that probably comes from the movie the Thing rather than what I actually trudged through...anyway it was cold and even the big empty red shopping bag I'd been dispatched with seemed heavy. The most difficult part of the task was actually getting noticed and served in a busy bakers where the counter seemed to be a good two and half feet above my head and all the serving ladies seemed to think I was there with another adult who was being served rather than on my own. What seemed like an eternity later I lugged the now full shopping bag (full of still warm, beautiful smelling crusty bread) out into the street and towards home. Then it hit was a Saturday morning and it was still early. There would be new British Marvel Comics in the newsagents - and just to explain - they would not be there for long. There only ever seemed to be a handful delivered and they soon disappeared from the shelves. Getting comics at this time was entirely predicated on having a regular order with your newsagents - my regular order at this time was for Planet of the Apes and Dracula Lives* (which contained little in the way of the superhero stories I longed for (and superhero stories were not approved of, well by anybody really. Admitting to liking superheroes was like admitting to having a low IQ: irrespective of the reading age that they were aimed at, they were universally condemned as 'being for babies'). I digress. So to recap: it is Saturday morning. There are comics. And I have the change from the bakers. Who can stop me? What can possibly go wrong? Nothing. The manager of the newsagent had once said to me "Hey, this isn't a library!" as I was reaching for a comic with the money to pay for it in my hand, er having not been reading the comic at any time. Idiot. The moron was not present. A pleasant lady served me. I trudged home through the snow drifts that you will have seen in both versions of the Thing (Hawkes and Carpenter) except probably bigger. The comic I bought was Spider-Man Comics Weekly #96 - offsale date December 14th 1974 - a reprint of Spider-Man's first encounter with The Prowler. Phenomenal John Buscema art and a backup Kirby Thor strip. My Mother was not impressed with the selection of this classic comic and the spending of the 7p of her change on it. "Well, I did walk through the snow," I offered lamely. She explained that if she had known I was going to spend the 7p she would've walked throught the snow herself. Yeah, right.

So I told you that so I could tell you this. My hypothesis is that you will not now find an eight and a half year old boy with that level of interest in Spider-Man any more than you would find an eight year old boy who is interested in Thomas the Tank Engine. My son 'outgrew' Spider-Man some considerable time ago (he is 8). In the UK vast majority of Spider-Man related clothing finishes at age 6. Why is this? Particularly when there are 12 certificate Spider-Man movies and there is nothing infantile (I would contend!) about the character. This is only a theory, but I think Spider-Man has become some sort of 'avatar' (or maybe poster-boy) for the beginnings of the sort of adventurous play in which boys first stray out of parental reach when climbing and jumping around ("Look at me! I'm Spider-Man!). And so, it has become somthing to grow out of rather than something to enjoy at any age (Like Star Wars and Lego now seem to be).

So to answer my own question: I shall continue to buy Spider-man comics even though my son has grown out of them. In particular, reprints of the classic Romita/Gil kane era. Last month I bought from the Works a bargain basement digest sized reprint vol of Spider-Man 86 onwards. The final story is a Prowler story and I haven't read it before. Son, you don't know what you're missing...

*NB my order for Planet of the Apes and Dracula Lives was at a different newsagent nowhere near the bakers. Glad we cleared that up.

Sunday 4 September 2011

Luke Starkiller...I mean Skywalker...

I guess it is something of an open secret that Jack Kirby influenced George Lucas...Doctor Doom is like Darth Vader yadda yadda etc. But I've also had an inkling that the Kenneth Robeson Doc Savage stories were also an influence - "Phantom Menace" could almost be Doc Savage book title. Sorting through a pile of old comics I was reminded today of this when I saw the cover to Justice Inc. #2. Well, there aren't many places outside the context of Star Wars where you can see the words Sky and Walker in such close proximity. If I'm ever stuck in an elevator with George Lucas I'll be able to ask him if Justice Inc was his favourite Kirby comic. If memory serves, Luke's name was changed to be Skywalker and the last minute from Starkiller (which hardly rolls off the tongue but is quite Kirbyesque).

Wednesday 31 August 2011

From My Bookshelf: Damnation Alley

So you see, in simpler times you could sell more copies of your film novelization if you could point out that you were also the publisher of the novelization of Star Wars...well you could if you were Sphere Books circa 1977. Roger Zelazny is, of course, one of my favourite authors and probably the one I am most likely to be busted for ripping off the style of (I throw myself on the mercy of the court and ask for several offences to be taken into consideration). From left to right we have Jackie Earle Haley who did a nice line in post apocalyptic kids (cf Planet of the Apes TV show) and Jan Michael Vincent drawn by somebody who probably wished they were drawing Charles Bronson, by the look of it. The Paul Winfield likeness is OK but George Peppard (complete with bad moustache) and Dominique Sanda could be practically anybody.

Damnation Alley was also the 'inspiration' for the Judge Dredd Cursed Earth sequence which contributed to my childhood lack of understanding of the laws of copyright. And the movie was the first time I came across the idea that the lights in Vegas would never go out (due to the automation of Hoover Dam - though I'm not sure this was properly explained).

Back at Montacute..

Took another trip to the extraordinary collection of TV memorabilia and comics at Montacute this are just a few images. Normal posting (including the second part of the extremely popular 'Life in London' theme ) will resume shortly. Take it easy my people.

Thursday 18 August 2011

Great Schoolyard Trades of my Childhood

1975: Swapped a very big poster of a Tyrannosaurus Rex for...Martin Caidin's Operation Nuke - the second Cyborg/Six Million Dollar Man story. The kind of swap you just can't regret...can't trade him if you can't beat him if you can't love him. He's the man.

Friday 12 August 2011


Here's my rather battered copy of Doc Savage - His Apocalyptic Life from 1981 by Philip Jose Farmer. It has a beautiful cover illustration by Ken Barr who, I think, also provided some covers for Marvel's Black and White Rampaging Hulk Magazine back in the late 1970's (I haven't thought about that for a while - anybody remember Bereet and the Krylorians? I seemed to spend a lot of time reading those stories at the time). I started reading Doc Savage with the Sargasso Ogre in probably about 1975 and around the same time the British Marvel Superheroes Weekly was reprinting the US Marvel Doc Savage stories in installments. The George Pal movie of Doc was disappointing (though Ron Ely was well cast) and I recall seeing it on a birthday party outing as a double-bill with the Doug McClure movie Warlords of Atlantis. Doc Savage played first and my fellow kids were excruciatingly bored...knowing I was a whispered to me "Is this story almost over?" about a quarter of the way through (conversely my son whispered to me last week during the Captain America movie, "This isn't the end is it, Dad? I don't want this ever to end!").

So, it seems like I've always been a Doc fan and I guess I always will. Right now I'm reading World's Fair Goblin in the Nostalgia Ventures version (the Bantam edition has somehow always eluded me). Nostalgia Ventures can be hard to come by in the UK and are hellishly expensive to import but I managed to pick up this one at a local comic fair.

Thursday 11 August 2011

Sculpture in the Sanctuary

And here are some pictures I took the other day at the Sculpture in the Sanctuary event in Nottinghamshire. Yes, the giant head is crammed with thousands of toy soldiers. Don't ask me why!

Wednesday 10 August 2011

LIFE IN LONDON: She's My Lois Lane

I lived in London for about 13 years altogether and for most of that time I worked at the Serious Fraud Office, which is based just off Grays Inn Road. This means that quite often I could be found at lunchtime in the local bookstore that was not far from the corner of Theobalds Road. This shop had quite a good selection of books on the craft of writing itself - some of which still grace the 'bookshelf of Babel' of previous posts. In addition, somewhere in the back of my mind I've always equated London with the Metropolis of the Superman stories; I was conscious that I'd grown up in a small town (Smallville!) and I wouldn't be staying there forever nor indeed for long. So one lunchtime I was pretty surprised to end up in conversation with Lois Lane...or rather I would've been surprised had I known who she was. I was just trying to be a literary Good Samaritan since she seemed very disappointed that the store could not obtain for her a copy of Richard Condon's The Manchurian Candidate. Indeed, it seemed that the book was out of print and in those far off pre-internet, pre-Amazon days, pre-e-bay days that was pretty much going to be the end of it unless I loaned her my copy. Well I guess she could've spent the next few weeks looking for it secondhand but she needed it in a hurry. I told her I had a copy I'd be willing to lend but I must have it back. She explained that she was appearing in the play of the Manchurian Candidate that would be running that summer at the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith and that her name was Lorelei. Lorelei was blonde, American, impossibly classy, mid-thirties-ish and with a confidence that was reverbing off the walls of the small bookshop like 5.1 surround sound. Her voice was something like Kathleen Turner's and everything she said was delivered like dialogue. The arrangement was that I'd drop off the book to the bookstore but that she would return it to my place of work when she'd done with it. Frankly, I've lent books to close friends and never seen them again so I think the purpose of this was to let her know where I worked (er not sure to what end now.. The implied threat that the whole thing would be turned over to the Serious Fraud Office unreturned book division presumably...). Anyways, while dropping off the book the bookstore staff referred to Lorelei as Mrs King. And at that point I slapped my forehead. How many American actresses called Lorelei could be working in London? This was Lorelei King who I listened to on radio all the time. She played all the female roles in Flywheel, Shyster and Flywheel, the Marx Bros show on Radio 4 and she had played Lois Lane in the Trial of Superman radio show. Subsequently she would even play Sue Storm in the Fantastic Four. I hadn't lived in London that long and it felt like the first person I struck up a conversation with was Lois Lane! When she returned the book it was with a Manchurian Candidate postcard with her phone number on. I rang her to try to blag a couple of complimentary tickets to the play - I'd developed a sense of entitlement to something free since she'd borrowed my book. Looking back I probably sounded like the kid from Robot Chicken who's in the elevator with George Lucas (You're George Lucas!). "Hey," I commenced, "I know who you are!"
"Really?" She intoned in her hushed, crushed velvety, best Jessica Rabbit impersonation. "Who am I?"
"You're Lorelei King off the radio. You're Lois Lane! Can I have a coupla free tickets for me an' my girlfriend?" Well at least I didn't try to hit on her...and frankly, nothing could've been further from my mind. It was her tickets I wanted and Lorelei pronounced that I was worthy of a single ticket "I don't get comps" so I'd have to pay for the girlfriend myself. Regular readers note that my wife and girlfriend are the same person, separated only by the passage of the years.

I haven't retained the ticket stubs but my best guess is that we went to see the play on 10th August 1991. Which would make it exactly twenty years ago today. In the bar afterwards we had a couple of drinks with Lorelei and chatted about her radio work and in particular Flywheel, Shyster and Flywheel. We were very briefly joined by Sian Phillips as she said goodbye to Lorelei - but perhaps most strangely Lorelei told me that she had recounted to Richard Condon when he visited the set the tale of how she obtained her copy of the Manchurian Candidate from a member of staff at the Serious Fraud Office. Lorelei bade us good night in a "You kids be careful on your way home" kind of way and that was almost the last I ever saw of her. I saw her from a distance once in Leicester Square a few years later, but mainly I saw her on TV - she's in an episode of Not Going Out, a couple I think of Jonathan Creek and was also in the movie Notting Hill.

Lorelei, a fellow shopper from 1990's London salutes you!

Now the slightly un-gentlemanly bit which has me hoping Lorelei never finds this post...I checked wikipedia for her age regarding my guess that she was in her mid-thirties at the time and was surprised to discover that we are roughly the same age (so I was just barely 25 - which seemed younger then than it does now and she was 28ish). Well, I'm not going to demand to see the long form of her birth certificate. The confidence and maturity were adding years to her...

Monday 18 July 2011

Bookshelf of Babel

I was just tidying up the computer when I stumbled upon this old picture of one of my bookshelves. Not even sure why I took it but it probably dates from at least 7 or 8 years ago. The amazing thing is how much I've crammed onto an apparently full bookshelf in the intervening years. I hesitate to take another picture because light may not be able to escape its gravitational we can't play whose bookshelf is this because you know it is mine; but can anyone accurately guess another book or object that is now on this bookshelf circa 2011? Too difficult?

Tuesday 12 July 2011

Where the Heck is this, again?

Any takers? These are usually too easy...

Sherlock Holmes Statue Edinburgh

Here are some mean and moody shots of the statue of everyone's favourite consulting detective in Edinburgh.

Wednesday 6 July 2011

Attic Revelations...

I'm afraid I've been teasing you. My 'attic' is really the Montacute Museum of TV, Radio and Toys in Somerset. But, of course, if you are ever in Somerset you can look round it, while my attic is not open to the public. However, it is strange to walk around a museum where all of my most prized possessions are just a sub-set of the exhibits on display.

Tuesday 5 July 2011

Quint's House

One interesting thing about having this blog is that you can see the searches that people are doing that lead them here. I'd just like to apologise to the person who was looking for information about Quint's House in Jaws who was randomly brought here by their search engine. That is weird. There's no information about Jaws on this blog. But maybe there should be...I shall remedy that at some point!

Is this Really my Attic - Part 2

This has certainly got people talking. But is this really my attic? It looks like my attic and lots of my stuff seems to be in it...all will be revealed tomorrow.

Monday 4 July 2011

My Highly Organised Attic...

Certainly got my attic looking pretty organised at the you like it? Or do I? Who thinks this is really my attic? Have any of you been in my attic to know? Or is this just another thinly disguised game of "Where the Heck is this?"

Saturday 2 July 2011

Stranger than People:Is this the Truth about Trolls?

OK, we haven't had a Stranger than People illustration for a while so here the legendary annual expounds the theory that trolls are a racial memory of neanderthals. As usual, the authors seem a little ahead of their time. And talking of Neanderthals, I was at Creswell Crags in Nottinghamshire last week looking at caves where Neanderthals actually resided once. I'll post some pics of that when I get chance, if only to show that the place looks rather like a caveman movie film set.

Monday 27 June 2011

Abominable Snowman

I mentioned the other day that I picked up a cryptozoological bargain in Oxfam and so here it is: Ivan T Sanderson's Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life. I'd never heard of it before and certainly never seen it. I was amazed that it pre-dated the Patterson-Gimlin 'Sasquatch' footage from 1967 because inside there is an illustration of a female bigfoot uncannily similar to the 'man in suit' presented in the footage. Better yet, though it's tough to get a good scan of because the book is thick and the image near the spine, there is also an illustration of a Yeti with a high sagittal crest. Put the two together and I start to wonder if Patterson/Gimlin had this book and took to their costume designer and said, "Hey, make us something like this!" Alternatively, maybe they rented a cine camera for the weekend, went pony trekking the woods and captured the real Bigfoot on film. You pays the money and you makes the choice. In my case, £6.99 (ouch!) in Oxfam West Bridgford - cheap at half the price...

Thursday 23 June 2011

Starved of the Interweb

Wow! Just back on line after a week waiting for my new router to have I survived without internet access for all this time...argh!! Normal service will be resumed shortly! Postings ahoy!!

Wednesday 15 June 2011

Is it True - Loch Ness Monster

Well, to answer the criticism that there not enough cryptozoology in this cryptozoology themed blog (and to celebrate that this month it is thirty umpty years since my boyhood trip to Loch Ness) here's the cover of Valiant Comic from 22nd June 1968. The 'Is it True' question posed is 'Is it true that the Loch Ness Monster collided with a tug thirty years previously" - Have a look inside to find out, chums! I suppose in those pre-google/pre-wikipedia days you could get away with that sort of question!

And tomorrow I shall share with you my latest cryptozoology themed charity shop purchase...

Take it easy my people.

Saturday 11 June 2011

Revenge of Where the Heck...

Curse you Dan are too good for me...but just to prove it...where the heck is this?

Where the Heck is this?

It seems the earlier 'Where the Heck' was all too easy for some try this one.

Where the Heck is this?

OK, so you think you're pretty smart. This is an easy game when you've been there's a more difficult haven't sat outside a pub just here. And it isn't Costa Rica.

Stranger than People: Spider

I was just puzzling over which image from the legendary Stranger than People annual to upload when I saw an article over on the BBC website about spiders that breathe underwater using bubbles. - google or cut and paste into your browser or whatever...

So here is The Yellow Monster of Sundra Strait - a fictional tale from Ted Hallam in the Stranger than People annual. Take it easy...

Wednesday 8 June 2011

Where the Heck - Answer

First of all, well done to all the Nottinghamites, Ex-Nottinghamites and East Midlanders who correctly identified the 'structure' as being in Nottingham. Er, well done for not having amnesia. Loyal follower Jenny Hardy was probably closest with suggesting that it is a melting is indeed a house formed out of the natural sandstone of Castle Rock. The gate in the picture is actually the exit of the Mortimer's Hole cave tour at Nottingham Castle and the eagle-eyed will have spotted a poster of Jonas Armstrong as Robin Hood. They tell you if you go on the tour that the unusual central heating was in the form of sheep kept on the lower floor...the rising heat from their bodies warmed the house (!). So a complimentary ride on the Loch Ness Monster for Jenny and a souvenir lump of finest Sherwood sandstone to everyone else.

I went on the Mortimer's Hole tour in probably about 1977 and again after many years living in London a couple or so years ago...I had a nasty case of (sot of) deja vu right at the end of the tour when I realised I could remember almost word for word what the guide was saying from having been on the 1977 tour and that happened just as we exited the sandstone 'house.'

In other Nottingham related news - I think it's great that Wollaton Hall in Nottingham will Wayne Manor in the new Batman movie. Batman finally comes home to his spiritual home county. Look out for a Wollaton Hall themed post soon and another game of "Where the Heck" - Peace my people and best wishes to all my Costa Rican readers. Loving your coffee, by the way!

Monday 6 June 2011

What the heck is it?

Okay, let's get interactive and have a quiz. Where was this picture taken? What is in the picture? What might you have found inside it at one point? There is a clue in the picture that will make it slightly easier...and the further away you are from my location the more impressed I will be if you know the answer. No, it's not from the new Planet of the Apes movie.

Friday 3 June 2011

Stranger than People: Ants!

It's pretty disappointing, isn't it? That there isn't a race of super-intelligent ants in charge of Mars. It was a regular feature of my childhood that there should be insects on Mars; from Quatermass and the Pit to a Dennis Wheatley story the name of which momentarily escapes me. Mars and insects go together like 'bee' and 'hive.' I dimly recall a 'reluctant reader' type boys book in my classroom when I was about 8 of a mission to Mars that encountered giant ants that was very similar to this illustration from the legendary Stranger than People annual. It ended with the following sentence (if I recall correctly) - "By the time you are a grown up Man will almost certaily have landed on Mars and we will know if it is capable of supporting life..." Yup, all very disappointing. One of my aims in life is to live sufficiently long to be interviewed as one of the last remaining people who recall watching an Apollo landing...I hoping this will be when I'm in a care home watching a Mars landing on the communal TV.

Anyways, super-intelligent ants are in charge of my dining room...well, they live underneath it and last month they built a beach under my radiator by carrying sand out from under the house grain by grain. I feel guilty about the ant poison. It sure is making them work slowly. Sigh. But if I don't do it; come swarming time, there'll thousands of the little devils running and flying around my house.