“The knuckles of Reginald Barker’s right hand thudded into Ricky’s spine, but Ricky scarcely felt the pain of the blow.”
Wow! What are you reading? Sounds awfully violent and rakish! Thudding fists and spinal injury, why, it must be no other than the Children’s Dandy Annual for 1970. You can read the above line in the story picture to the left, it’s genuine!
I have been reliving a few childhood memories over Christmas and raiding my stock of vintage children’s annuals to revisit some familiar and not so familiar characters and stories from times gone by. The stories are entertaining, well illustrated and incredibly naive and refreshingly politically incorrect without a hint of health and safety just like the above headline, I mean, how many times have you read a right hand thudding into a child’s spine in a children’s book recently?
Still it was all part of the growing up experience before the Internet came along. As a child growing up in the 70’s/80’s you were used to small thrills, even more used to playing outside and acquiring bruises and grazes. Just the nature of playing was
substantially different from today, childhood was a knocking ground for experiences; you found out a candle flame was hot, lemons were sour, paving slabs removed skin from your knees and grass stains were hard to shift all without the need to film it or
photograph it. If you wanted to see your friend you had to get off your backside and visit them, else you had to use a telephone and hope that it wasn’t answered by their parents, things that seem absolutely ancient by today’s standards.
So it’s no wonder that comics and magazines for children were filled with an assortment of experiences quite common to children of the time but alien to children of today but even I wonder how they got away with some of it!
‘Dirty Dick’ now there’s a character open to abuse if I have ever saw one, I lost count the amount of double entendre’s I found when I re-read them. ‘Are you clean Dick?’, ‘Don’t go poking around in holes Dick!’ all the usual jokes and in an era of Carry On films you can see the influence, still, nothing but nothing can match the next one.
Oh my! A main character called ‘Spunky Bruce’ (I bet he got a few right hands thudding into
his spine at school) coupled with his spider friend called Scamper that was found incredulously in a deep hole on a Yorkshire Moor took a bit of believing. “Aye lass, I’ll be down for tea in ten.” he never said, instead he wove crap webs and ridiculed the overweight.
Apples on the end of arrows manage to shut up a teacher called Mr Pigg in our next story, the never ending tales of a plump teacher that will do anything for a pie. Almost every story in the annual has a want or need that begins with a notoriously random way to achieve its goal and ends with either, mild slapstick, a good spanking, a policeman or a jolly good feast and celebrations.
Throwing darts at each other or even dressing up as teacher and spanking your fellow pupils became the norm unless of course you were Desperate Dan for he had a few special treats for readers.
How about naked window jumping? Or how about teaching the children to smoke? Both of which I’m sure would be more than frowned on a little today, but then again, is it any worse that Jeremy Kyle on daytime TV or unrestricted Internet access to witness most things we in the 70’s and 80’s had to wait to be eighteen to experience?
So a little trip down memory lane, it didn’t do me any harm and even today I thoroughly enjoy being spanked whilst smoking cigars and catching darts in my arse cheeks whilst jumping out of bedroom windows shouting ‘Spunky! Where are you?’