Thursday, 25 August 2016


I GUESS FOR ME, IT STARTED with those fabulous figures in the mail order pages, in the back of any issue of Forry Ackerman's Famous Monster mag. Just flicking through the pages, and longing for them, was very much like dreaming about the gifts to be won by collecting vouchers, on those little pieces of grease-proof shiny paper, inside the American penny bubble gums called BAZOOKA JOE. No chance! To every child seeing these in the UK, it was an unreachable goal. The figures in Ackerman's mag of Chaney's Phantom and the bubble gum X-Ray Specs, were not for the likes of snivelling kids of the sixties, sitting in a cold and damp Blighty...

MAKING ENQUIRIES to my mother and father about maybe buying a 'International Money Order' or some dollars, then maybe sending the order off to the United States, was about as achievable in 1969, as sending a postcard off into outer space, and asking the recent moon treading  astronauts, to send you back a photograph of 'the man in the moon'!  Kids in down-town back of beyond, had no business sending off anything to anywhere as far off as the USA. 'You sent your Aunty Mary in Doncaster, a postcard from Blackpool while we were on holiday! What more do you want? That's you all over! Never satisfied. International Money what? I don't know who you think you are, Marcus?!' Well, I KNEW who I was, I was Marcus Brooks, the eight year old kid who disparately wanted his own Aurora Monster model!

THEN ONE DAY, quite by accident, I actually got my hands on one! The nearest town to where I lived, was some thirty miles away. Trips there in the family car were rare. This town also had a thriving dockland. Ships were powered by our local steam coal, ships  that sailed off to  far off and exotic places like Spain, Greece and the USA! On their return journey, the holds of ships would be filled with all kinds of goods to control the ballast of the ships, during their long journey home. Much of these goods would find their way into our local shops in our town, in an area known as 'The Arcade'. It was a shady indoor affair, of Victorian dusty windows, pre war gas lamps and faded shop fronts, selling all  manner of knocked off goods from, silk stockings, fruit, furniture, carpets, American comics and I was to find out...Aurora model kits! 

ON THIS DAY,  I was busy pouting and sighing, accompanying my mother being dragged around the said Arcade, in what was our annual trawl around the stores, to buy my new school uniform. Looking through a shop window, a horrendous garish multi coloured,  blown glass clown, had caught my Mother's eye. With a shrill shrike of excitement, my arm was grabbed and I was pulled into the dimly lit shop.

FED UP, I stood taking in the clutter of over stuffed shelves, the mountain of needles, balls of knitting wool, boxes upon boxes of 'Fancy Goods'. Glass cats, damaged china ducks and tacky paintings of 'blue ladies' and  tempted wives, mothers, grandmothers,  home makers of a certain age, who wanted something exotic and colourful to give their two up, two down, a touch of class, would all be inside ferreting for bargains. All this tack and chatter from bustling ladies with a couple of 'bob' to spare, from the house keeping money, filled the small shop from nine am until six pm. It was a little gold mine, stuffed to bursting point.

It was while I was examining a box of ornamental miniature nodding dogs, that the plump lady peering over the counter told me that, 'All damages MUST be paid for, Son!' Rolling her eyes, my mother give out a long suffering sigh and  'TUT!', then taking the nodding dogs  from my little mitts, she packed them back into the box with the tissue paper, and was placing them back on the shelf, when she was distracted by spotting what she was looking for, THE clown.

IN HER HEIGHTENED  excitement, she dropped the box of nodding dogs, which knocked another box from the shelf onto the shop floor. More 'tutting' this time from lady behind the counter, huffing she started her, 'All damages have to be...' speech, when she was interrupted by my Mother's profuse  apologies, delivered in her forced and strained telephone voice, 'Hi am Soo soore, Mrs Prue. It is ourwa Marcus, his ands, are everywhere-a. I told im. Uwe don't lewek with your-a ands! He-a is a Night-mare-a!' Well, I might have been, but right now, I was looking at MY Holy Grail! An Aurora box. I spotted the lettering on the side of the lid. The very same lid and lettering I had been studying for MONTHS inside Uncle Forry's Famous Monsters mag!

That night, I sat on my bed. You would think, after getting my mother to part with £2.50, and finally having a my very own Aurora kit, to make my very own Phantom of the Opera', I would be over the moon! I was, but one thing worried me. That mass of plastic bits and pieces? In my fuzzy fantasies of craving, I had over looked the fact that the model was a kit! It had to be carefully assembled AND painted. Me plus Glue plus paint, equals MASS MESS!

The evidence of my last attempt to assemble a scale model of the Columbus Mayflower ship, could be seen at various spots around my bedroom. The cat knocked over the model paint, and left puss prints all over my bedding! The new carpet 'that was your Aunty Patrica's 98% pure wool shag pile, that was... now ruined, with ship plank green, and our moggies sticky paw prints, of ship sail yellow all over it! To bed now!!!'  Yeah, my Aurora dream, was a job not worth starting. Just the smell of modelling glue and paint would have sent my mother off like a rocket!

ALL OF THIS,  in about 25 years would made a far off memory, when at last, certain talented individuals, decided to make life like models, of my favourite Hammer movie monsters and actors! EVEN Peter Cushing! No glue needed. No paint. Not all were spot on, but many had more than a passing resemblance

THE CAT IS NOW LONG GONE, now that it is been safe to prowl.  But,  I can hear my mother nowGod bless her.... 'Oh Marcus, that figurine of Peter Cushions..' ....It was my mother's strange habit to always make a plural of any name, that she was not sure of... ' ..Yes, Peter Cushions! His dark green jacket? And is it, Engrid Pitts?' Yes, Mum.  'Her dress?, I LOVE that green too. What you need now, on the wall above them, are those three green china ducks, I bought from Mrs Prue's shop. It would set that all off, loooovely!' Yes, already assembled and painted figures of Cushing and Ingrid. My mother would have approved, for sure!  


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