As I sit here in my bathchair, blanket draped across my bony thighs, cup of warm milk and a plate of bourbons, I rest my gaze on Salisbury (my faithful labrador) and cast my mind back to that peculiar summer holiday in Blackpool in 1978. And one aspect of it that has often given me a warm fuzzy feeling.
Well, before your imagination goes haywire, I’m looking ahead two hundred years (when progress in science allows us to live into our five hundred and nineties) at a picture of me looking back. The reason for the warm fuzzy feeling is the memory of a comic I discovered for the first time: Shiver and Shake.
But, here’s the rub, Shiver and Shake ceased publication in 1974. So what was I reading in 1978? It couldn’t have been a second hand copy because a) it would have perished by the time I found it in ’78, and b) I can remember coming home and asking my parents to order it every week from the newsagents, Wally Guys, after cancelling the Dandy.
There is another hazy memory that links Shiver and Shake with Nevill Street in Southport, but that’s such a vague memory as to be almost a figment of the imagination. No, the comic found on holiday was definitely Shiver and Shake-like!
Scream was a comic more in the mold of 2000AD, more graphic novel in style. And Monster Fun didn’t have the characters I remember reading about, which included Frankie Stein, Horrornation Street and Sweeney Toddler.
Fickle memories, how they shift and transform over time as if rearranging themselves in order to fool us, a subconscious agenda we are unaware of and have no control over.
I searched online and now have a PDF of a full copy of Shiver and Shake. I might go and sit on the prom at Blackpool and read it. Maybe I’ll wait for a windy day and unpack the useless badminton set. Take a bag full of pennies and blow them on the waterfall in the amusement arcade. Eat candyfloss and throw up on the Grand National pleasure beach ride (or was that Rhyl in 1977?)
If anyone knows what I read in Blackpool in 1978 give me a clue. It wasn’t Whizzer and Chips and certainly not Pride and Prejudice. It was cheap, black and white and scary in a non-scary kind of way. It was part of the golden age of British comics; part of the golden age of childhood holidays.
Here’s a site that lists all the British comics and allows you to download a free copy (for research purposes obviously.) Yootha.com