Category Archives: Memories
I was chatting the other day (on Twitter, not that that matters) about street games we used to play as children, back in the days when only one person on the street actually had a car (an Austin A30). No one but me had ever heard of one of my favourite games – Finger Thumber Dumber Little Granny.
The gang of kids divided into two teams, via picksies. One player of the defending team was Cush, and stood against the wall. His* teammates bent down, the first with his head in the cush’s stomach, the others in a line behind to form a line of backs. The other team would, one by one, run up behind and leap onto the backs of those bending, trying to make them collapse. If they did succumb, the leaping team ‘won’ and got to inflict the punishment again. If the defenders stood strong, the leader of the leapers would shout “Finger thumber dumber little granny!” and hold up either a forefinger, thumb, fist (dumber) or little finger (little granny). One of those bent over would have to guess which he held up, ostensibly unaided by the Cush, although I’m sure Steve Maltby cheated sometimes. If the guess was wrong, the leapers got to go again. If right, the defenders got their turn at inflicting pain and suffering on their playmates. It was a remarkably sophisticated in a satisfyingly violent way. I always wanted to be on Alan Bower’s team as he weighed about the same as the weekly pop lorry and was an expert at collapsing opponents.
Extensive research (I Googled) shows that as early as the 1500s, children in Europe and the Near East played “Bucca Bucca quot sunt hic?” which name lives on in the States as ‘Buck Buck’. Pieter Bruegel’s painting “Children’s Games” (1560) depicts children playing a variant of the game (bottom right of the painting).
*for some reason girls never wanted to play this
In particular, this boy. Me. Many decades ago when I was, oh let’s say ten or eleven years old, I discovered a copy of The Lost World of Everest in a bookshop in Rotherham. I was probably looking for ‘Jet, Sled Dog of the North’ or some such, being heavily into that kind of thing at the time. The cover of this called to me: the snowy ledge, the bright sunshine on the verdant valley below, the courageous chap on his feet while his nervy companions crawl to the edge to look down.
Three British climbers, led by the stalwart Bill Gresham (a heroic name if ever I heard one) are swept from the flanks of Everest by a freak storm, and discover a hidden civilisation of English settlers inside Mount Everest, who are being threatened by a degenerate race of cavemen, or Tunnel-Men, who have electrical superpowers. I thrilled to the adventures of this clean-cut trio. Their frantic slide into the mountain, their battles to help the pleasant folk they found in this other world, the use of giant umbrellas as parachutes, all were eagerly gobbled up by a boy whose biggest adventure was getting on the bus to school.
A few years ago I found a copy on Alibris, and bought it. Re-reading the tale led me initially once again into exciting adventures, but then there was something else, too. Something that nine-year-old Wombat hadn’t noticed at all. Here’s our introduction to the Tunnel Men:
“Scantily dressed in a waist-garment of some coarse matting, they were a pale brownish-yellow in colour; a sickly, repulsive shade, as though the very skin, and the flesh beneath it, was dead. Their features were coarse and cunning and cruel, and suggestive of both Tibetan and Indian blood. Their eyes glowed like red fires… luminous eyes in the heads of human beings… eyes which burned like lamps.”
See the problem? There’s more. The English cavern-dwellers, descendants of Anglo-Indians who fled the Great Mutiny of 1857, are the complete opposite of the Tunnel Men. They live among ‘trees… fields and gently-flowing streams’, and are cheerful and welcoming – ‘Bright-eyed girls sprang forward and saluted the comrades with kisses, and the friendliness of their reception was beyond doubt, if embarrassing in its warmth’. The Lost World of Everest, therefore, is a racially ordered one, where the pleasant white people are goodies living in a nice place and the swarthy, evil Tunnel Men are baddies who want to take it away from them – ‘wretched’ hill tribesmen who were expelled to the ‘Lesser Cavern’. The Lost World of Everest was published just seven years after India had gained independence. The siege mentality of the English in the cavern resembles strongly that of British people in India during the late 1940s.
Young Wombat noticed none of this. The goodies might just as well have been green, and the baddies, I dunno, Morlocks for all he cared. I can safely say that I wasn’t indoctrinated into racism, but I did become fascinated by hidden world stories for a time, such as Lost Horizon and Pellucidar.
My point, if I have one, is this: before you revisit a beloved book from your childhood, be wary of what you might find to tarnish its memory.
Inspired by this pic of Lou & The Llamas now infamous ‘Naked Ukelele” gig, I went looking on the internet for other uke-playing babes. What better way to fill my time between writing books? Here you can enjoy the fruits of my labours.
And fear not, there will be a follow-up ‘Ukulele Dudes’ post, although those are slightly harder to find although rather funnier when you do.
Here’s a likely lady. She’s hung out her washing to dry in the sun, and now wants nothing more than to don a swimming cossie and warble ‘Princess Poo-Poo-Ly’ with the breeze on her thighs. You’ll see as we go along, it’s a popular thing to display some degree of nakedness while playing a ukulele. I do it myself all the time.
Yet more thigh-flashing here as a gaggle of nymphettes defy park regulations and perform a bench-borhne version of ‘I Want To Marry A Lighthouse Keeper’. Interesting wrist action from the lady bottom right.
A daring flash of knee is all we get from this smiling lassie, thumb-strumming along to ‘Honolulu Baby’ while shaking her sable coverings. From the smooth reflection and the way that it flows and curves, the uppermost question in my mind has to be ‘Is that made of real silk or is it her actual hair?’
Those of you who know me well will have long been aware that I do like a woman who fills a big trouser, and this buxom foursome certainly tick my boxes, although I doubt I’d be allowed anywhere near theirs. They’re obviously about to launch into ‘It Must Be Jelly Cos Jam Don’t Shake Like That’. Lovely socks.
Oooh, sexy. Sexy and louche. Yeah baby, nice shoes. Play ‘Chippy Tea’ for me, you beguiling temptress. Of course, if she’s still alive she’ll be well into her nineties by now. There’s a sobering thought.
Three right happy pluckers here, judging by they’re right hands. What in the name of Satan’s pointy penis are they wearing though? The dress on the right looks like it was ironed by me. Bananarama here will be entertaining you tonight with ‘Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots’ or I’m a Dutchman.
Anyone for ten knees? See what I did there? Ha ha haha! Running through the snow in odd frocks makes for big old smiles despite those head-dress thingies. What song could you play in those temperatures, I wonder? ‘When Hilo Hattie Does The Hilo Hop’, I’ll be bound.
I’m not 100% convinced that these delights of femininity aren’t blokes in drag, actually, but let’s give them the benefit because they’re so well turned out. Now, to keep up with the theme I so cavalierly started earlier, I have to think of a song for these moptops to perform. ‘Donald Where’s Your Troosers?’ obviously.
Oh, she’s nice, what with the stockings and the headscarf and that come-hither expression and all. ‘Yes Sir, That’s My Baby!’ … is the song that she would sing, sitting on her front steps there waiting for me to carry her indoors and ravish her. Ahem, sorry, as you were.
Blimey, look at her second from left. “Look into my eyes the eyes not around the eyes in the eyes you’re under”. Is probably her favourite chat-up line before launching into a wild abandoned version of ‘Purple Haze’ and setting fire to her ukulele. She’s pretty on the right, mind.
If that’s a fag hanging out of her mouth, she’s pretty cool. If it’s the single tooth she has left in her mouth, then no. Nice plant, love, now sing ‘All I Want For Christmas’ for me.
More knees and those delightful knitted swimsuits that showed off a girl’s figure so well. Not sure about those socks, though. Honorary cool guy on the right there is well proud of his flag shirt, isn’t he? “Oh yeah, it’s got a flag on it. Flags are cool now.” Their chanson du jour? ‘Oh Lord Won’t You Buy Me A Mercedes Benz’ cos her with the uke reminds me of Janis Joplin. A bit.
Here’s another Janis for you. Janis Paige, apparently. I have no idea who that is, but she has succumbed to the naked thighs fashion of ukulele playing. She also hes extremely pointy boobs, which must get in the way of her upswing when strumming along to the likes of ‘Like A Virgin’.
You can more or less make-up your own jokes for this one, can’t you? The girls look like a big load of fun, so they’d probably start singing ‘Yes, We Have No Bananas’ don’t you think? I wonder if they’ve nailed that bloke by the ankles to that board, and the bowl’s to catch his blood when they drain him. Probably not.
Cor, look at the fretboard on that. She’s a ‘Come, Josephine, on My Flying Machine’ girl and no mistake. And yes, Flying Machine is a honking great euphemism.
This may be a competition to find Miss Spalding Maid or…. oh hell, I don’t know. Your guess is as good as mine. While you try to spot the ukulele, I’ll just sing you a short snippet of ‘I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate’.
Swimming costumes and ukuleles again. They go together like bacon and banana in a butty. The boy at the back is well impressed by their three-part harmonies on ‘My Little Stick Of Blackpool Rock’.
Hippy ukulele chick probably playing some song about flowers, or something by Joni Mitchell. Ooooh, I wonder what ‘The Hissing Of Summer Lawns’ would sound like on ukulele?
Back to the cossies and the naked thigh meme. These girls are very happy in their silly hats, walking along, singing ‘I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside’. Prom prom prom.
WARNING! WARNING! NSFW BIT
I warned you but you still looked, you rude lot. This lassie has forgotten her vest, and will probably end up with croup. Look at her hair! No, not those, her hair. Now, if only I knew a song about nipples, I’d have her singing that, but I don’t, cos I am so INNOCENT. She can be singing a Frank Zappa song instead. This one.
Sixty one years, eh? How the fuck did that happen? I remember when I was in my Twenties saying that if I made it into my Sixties, that’d do. That’d be old enough, too old, I’d be happy to die then. Well sod you, you insufferable priggish arse of long ago. You know nowt.
In my time I’ve seen post-war rationing, the rise of women’s rights, a sharp decline in persecution of gay people, and the complete transformation of meaning in the word ‘gay’ itself. I’ve seen The Beatles play live and got drunk with The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. I watched Kirk Douglas gurn across the big screen of Rawmarsh Regal Cinema in The Vikings in 1959, and owned a Man From Uncle membership card. I remember pounds, shillings and pence. I remember farthings.
I wore love beads in the late Sixties, gawped at the moon landing as it happened, and was at the heart of the rise of punk in London a decade later. I watched England win the World Cup Final in 1966. I remember McDonalds first appearing in Britain. I gasped as fire blazed across the skies above the Rossendale valley at the turn of a millennium.
I married an amazing woman, and raised two other amazing women in their turn. I suffered under Thatcher (sidebar: the current Tories are FAR worse) and marched in protests against her government’s selfishness. I was involved with computing at the beginning of the internet.
And so much bloody more. A whole motherfucking maelstrom of experience that’d make your ears bleed taken all at once, and you know what? I want more. I’m not ready to piss off just yet, so the twatmonger that I was back in the mid-Seventies can piss off and play his pseudy Soft Machine records. Life is beautiful. I’m going to hang about a bit yet.
I thought I’d posted this already, but can’t find it in the archive, so maybe not. This is a film we made in 1966; directed and edited by my Dad. Last year I added sound and subtitles. Enjoy.
Recently a bunch of our good Twitter friends took to posting photos from their wedding day. I thought it would be nice to gather them all in one place, and here seemed as good a place as any.
I was offline at the time of the tweets, so if I’ve missed anyone out, please tell me. Also if, in my haste, I’ve made any mistakes. We’ll start with ours, just because.
@ajonesieAmanda doesn’t look like a filthy-minded Whovian who likes crack jokes, does she? She looks all pretty and innocent.
This is perhaps my favourite outfit of the lot – I WANT that hat! Presumably, @HardyDuncan is behind the camera.
@Dustmotes & @FBishWifeConfession time? I’ve not actually met @dustmotes or @FBishWife yet, but I couldn’t resist posting such a lovely photo. It looks like it came out of Vogue or something. I shall now seek them out and click their ‘Follow’ buttons.
@IronThighs Oh-oh, who let Rachel loose with a knife?… eek, watch your kilt, Kevin!
@JaneGoth Simon and Jane getting that windswept and interesting look. Love the bouquet.
@LittleBit_BodThe woman whom I shall always know as “Bod” looking stunning, with Jay who is also, erm, stunning.
@White76Shona, just shorter than @little_mavis at 4’11”, and Mike, hugely taller than me at 6’2”. Brilliant smiles, eh?
@DaveTreadwell and his AmyA love made in Heaven. And Photoshop.
A final thought – ALL of the women in these photos are drop-dead, mind-meltingly beautiful. Perhaps this shows that I am extremely shallow, and only follow good-lookers. Or perhaps it shows that every woman is strikingly bonny on her wedding day. I’ll let you decide.