OK, I’m not ashamed to say it. In a cardboard box, tucked neatly under the bed in the spare room, is every Beano and Dandy annual from the 1980s.
Call me a geek, laugh if you want – and most of today’s streetwise, savvy kids will – but I don’t care.
Even now I can recall the thrill of waking on Christmas morning and unwrapping the latest annual, always in hardback, always beautifully designed.
The annuals were the first item on my list to Father Christmas. Looking back he must have loved me. All the other kids asked for computers or bikes that must have taken his elves ages to make. I, on the other hand, requested a book which cost £1.50. Bet he couldn’t believe his luck.
But I don’t care. I’m proud to be a man of simple taste and even on the odd occasion my parents did splash out on an expensive gift, it made no difference – the majority of Christmas Day would be spent chortling at the adventures of Dennis The Menace, The Bash Street Kids, and my personal favourites Roger the Dodger and Ball Boy.
The latter was so mad about football he played keepy-uppy with a globe during his geography lesson while the teacher laughed and applauded. When I tried the same thing at my secondary school in Greater Manchester, the teacher’s reacted somewhat differently, whacking my legs several times with a ruler.
Roger the Dodger was a legend. My mates and I held him in the same esteem a catholic does the Pope, or a builder the Daily Star. As soon as each new edition of the Beano came out, a group of us would huddle in a corner of the playground reading his latest adventures. One day a teacher pounced, shouted ‘caught you in the act’ and triumphantly grabbed the comic. He took a look, coughed in embarrassed fashion and handed it back.
It was only years later I realised he thought we had one of those magazines usually found on the top shelves of newsagents.
There was something gloriously straightforward and innocent about the Beano and Dandy, but unfortunately today’s youngsters don’t seem to have the same tastes.
In a world ruled by Ipads, PlayStations, Kindles and mobile phones, the art of sitting with a comic and a glass of dandelion and burdock is a thing of the past.
That was hammered home this week when, 75 years to the day since it began, the final Dandy was printed.
With sales dwindling, DC Thompson (the Dundee-based publishing company) has decided to pull the plug.
It will be online instead from now on, but it’s doubtful that will work. Which kid wants to use the internet to look at hand-drawn pictures of people doing crazy things when they can get the same thing for real on youtube?
The Dandy’s demise is a sad day, especially as it means a world without Desperate Dan, one of the finest characters invented.
The world’s strongest man, he is able to lift a cow with one hand. The pillow of his reinforced bed is filled with building rubble and his beard is so tough he shaves with a blowtorch. He’s so tough he could beat anyone in a boxing ring, with the possible exception of Andrew Flintoff.
His demise, and that of the Dandy, is a sad day for our nation.
Today’s kids don’t know what they’re missing out on.
Press goes bonkers for baby
THOSE who want the most up-to-date coverage of the Royal pregnancy need look no further than the Daily Mail, which, rumour has it, is considering changing it’s name to the Daily Kate for the next seven months.
The paper of the middle-classes celebrated the news that Prince William’s wife is pregnant by launching a ‘Royal Baby Special Edition’, complete with 15 pages of in-depth analysis, reaction and sensitive tips about what the Duchess of Cambridge should wear when she becomes a bit porky.
That’s right. Mail columnist Liz Jones got right to the heart of what was on everyone’s mind by telling Kate ‘you now face the biggest fashion challenge of your life – the key is to choose good quality fabrics’.
Kind-hearted Jones’ reassured Kate that her ‘underwear can continue to be sexy and feminine’ (as opposed to what? Masculine?) but warned shoes were important and pleaded with her to ditch her ‘favourite nude LK Bennett platform courts’ and instead go for ‘a mid-height or kitten heel from Jimmy Choo or Manolo Blahnik’.
Such kind, caring advice from a newspaper that always looks out for women (Mail website earlier in the week: “Leona Lewis arms look chubby as she performs on Loose Women – red dress didn’t flatter her curvaceous figure”.
Alas despite its wonderful Royal coverage, The Mail couldn’t compete with the Daily Star.
While the Mail’s front page headline read ‘A Nation’s Joy, A Husband’s Nerves’ (showing a tense-looking William emerging from hospital after visiting his wife), the Star opted for ‘Royal Baby: It’s All Down To Coconuts’.
There was absolutely no basis for the story, other than Kate sipped a drink from a coconut during a recent trip to an island in the Pacific Ocean, but, hey, let’s not worry about the truth, that nice Leveson chap won’t mind.
Expect more drivel for months to come – that’s Kate stories, not this column.
What has happened to the English launguage Grrrrl?
HUGH Morris is a fine example of a person who has spent so long in a managerial position he begins to speak like a strange being from a distant planet.
In a two-and-a-half minute interview on Radio 5Live the other day, he used the phrase ‘going forward’ (as in ‘going forward, we want this team to thrive’) nine times.
It is a classic example of nonsensical management speak. We wouldn’t say going backward or going nowhere. We’re all going forward in life – unless we’re on the M6 near Knutsford in rush hour.
Mind you language is going down the pan generally. Let me furnish you with a few examples from the latest edition of the Oxford dictionary.
Chillax (calm down and relax), Droolworthy (extremely attractive or desirable), Grrrl (a young woman regarded as strong and independent).
They aren’t words. The last one can’t even be bothered with vowels. Samuel Johnson, who compiled the first dictionary in the mid 1700s, would turn in his grave.
Speaking of which, here is a Johnson fact. On his deathbed, and responding to a friend trying to comfort him, shouted: “No, Sir; you cannot conceive with what acceleration I advance towards death”.
A few moments later he was proved spot on.
Which is, as some teenager would put it, awesome.