A Typical Christmas Every Christmas Eve, we went to a party held by my Mum’s side of the family. Actually, it was more specifically her Dad’s side, the Atkinsons. I never met my Grandad - he died only three months before I was born - but I’m told he was a lovely bloke, always laughing and joking, the life and soul of the party, always generous, liked a drink, everybody loved him. If the rest of his family are anything to go by, that description’s probably bang on. The Atkinsons - and their extended relatives who would all gather for Christmas - loved having parties, and I loved going to them. Apart from my annual holiday to Blackpool and Christmas Day itself, the Christmas Eve party was pretty much the highlight of my year. I remember my Gran hosting it a few times when I was very young, but on this particular occasion in 1979, I’m pretty sure it was held at Auntie Em & Uncle Edwin’s house on Smawthorne Grove. Em (short for Emily) was Grandad Bill’s older sister, one of three Atkinson siblings (there were eight altogether) who had lived in Castleford all their lives. I remember their son, Morris - an architect, who was spectacularly funny when he was drunk - having an inebriated conversation with us as we were leaving in the car, about whether we should be called “Fairburners” or “Fairburnites”. We settled on the latter, said goodbye to the “Castlefordians” and that’s where this story begins. This is the first thing I wrote in my English book after returning from the Christmas break and marks the beginning of a glorious period of inspiration. I must say I’m very impressed with my memory - this is a whole fortnight since Christmas and I still remember what time I got up that morning. I’m even more impressed that I managed to stay in bed till 8.30! I imagine my family were relieved about that too. But enough of that. Let’s just open the presents! Captain America figure with shield I loved Marvel Comics and Captain America was one of my favourite characters, along with Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk and The Fantastic Four. Any super-hero related paraphernalia was always welcome. For some reason, I remember this was a present from my Auntie Edna. Leeds United towel & A pair of football boots It’s clear by this point that I had learned my lesson and decided to fit in by supporting a football team. Finally I had a proper pair of boots to play football in and a Leeds United towel to go with the bag and the strip. A dressing gown and a couple of shirts Meh. Terry’s Chocolate Orange A Christmas staple, I got one of these every single year since their inception. Actually, something tells me they were pretty new at the time. Hotspur Annual 1980 No doubt this was a present from my other Grandad, Jack (on my Dad’s side), who used to buy me the comics Hotspur, Warlord and Victor on a regular basis. I wasn’t much of a fan to be honest - Marvel Comics were my golden standard and I didn’t think these British ones really cut the mustard. (Not because they were British - see 2000 AD Annual below). Hotspur was slightly preferable to the others because it had strips like King Cobra which conformed to the superhero format I was used to, but Warlord and Victor were full of war stories that didn’t really appeal to me. Though naturally, I have fond (and probably inaccurate) memories of German soldiers screaming “Aaiiieeee, pigdog!” on every other panel. I eventually became convinced that Jack, who had fought in World War 2, secretly bought them because he liked reading them, and I was just a handy excuse. Doctor Who Annual 1980 The only thing on the list that I still have. My interest in the good Doctor was waning at the time, so I don’t think I ever really looked at it much, but the Doctor Who Annual was a Christmas staple, bought for me every year by my Gran from 1975 to 1983. Obviously, it’s long out of print, but you can read the whole thing as a PDF if you buy this DVD. 2000 AD Annual 1980 The 2000 AD annuals were never quite as good as the weekly comics, but again this was a Christmas staple which ended up in my stocking every year from the first annual (1977) to the fifth (1981). I no longer have any of these - I think because I gave them all away to a person I’d only just met, along with all my other 2000 AD comics, when I was 13 - but the months ahead were going to see me fall for 2000 AD in a big, big way. Dandy Annual 1980 OK, I lied. The Dr Who Annual isn’t the only thing on the list that I still have, because I also kept this Dandy book. Not exactly the sort of thing I’d normally hold onto - I was never much of a fan of the Dandy anyway. But if I ever get round to scanning it in and uploading it, you’ll see why I kept it. Great Space Battles and Spacecraft 2000 to 2100 AD These books were both part of the Terran Trade Authority series by Stewart Cowley and formed the inspiration for a story I wrote very early in my second term. My Mum still has these - I’d love to pilfer them back but my stepdad uses them as inspiration for his paintings, so he’ll probably get more fun out of them than I would. Note I actually didn’t read the title properly and have written 2001 instead of 2100. A digital watch The pinnacle of modern technology! Black, with a red LED display. It told the time, but that’s all. Looked great at night, with its little red numbers, but useless in sunlight. I seem to remember thinking myself quite the dandy with my incredible wrist technology, but by the end of the year, other kids had better watches with proper black numbers that you could actually see in the daytime and other useful functions like the date and a stopwatch, rendering my rubbish old watch a ridiculous antique. An electronic Battlestar Galactica Space Alert game This was, at the time, probably my favourite thing ever. It’s described in some detail in an essay I did later in the year (a wistful piece entitled “When I Was Happiest” which I’ll upload eventually when I get round to it). What connection this handheld electronic game had to Battlestar Galactica is hard to say, but at the time it was probably the most advanced handheld video game you could get. Micronauts The Micronauts were brilliant, and for a time eclipsed Star Wars figures as my favourite collectible toys. They were indeed much better than Star Wars figures, with more functional joints and interchangeable parts. The Battle Cruiser was by far my favourite of all the Micronaut range - a large white space cruiser with detachable shuttles (which also fired rubber missiles and could be used as pistols!), it was also motorised so it could move by “remote control” (actually the control had to be attached with a wire, but I didn’t care). This offered me months of joy until it was superceded the following year by a Millennium Falcon. The Giant Acroyear was almost as good (and the only one I drew a picture of) - a giant Japanese robot which could be shaped and reassembled into several vehicles, it was a clear forerunner of the Transformers, which were, sadly, after my time. Good God. I was absolutely spoilt rotten.
Monday January 7th, 1980
Christmas 1979
TERM 1 Sept-Dec 1979
TOPIC 1 Sept-Dec 1979
HISTORY 1 Sept 1979 - Oct 1981
SCIENCE 1 Sept 1979 - Mar 1980
FAIRBURN The place where I wrote all this rubbish
WAEN SHEPHERD Who was this strange little boy?
GEOGRAPHY 1 Sept 1979 - Feb 1981
Clarke Hall Old Houses Fairburn v Burton Salmon The Forgotten World String Orchestra Sheet Lightning Grezelda the Witch Bonfire Night Metropolitan Police Christmas 1979 Great Space Battles Luddenden The Hat’s Adventure Sleeping Beauty What I Do On Monday Waen Shepherd 2 Waen Shepherd in: Green Squids Ward’s 7: Move of the Galaxy Ward’s 7: Alpha Centauri Ward’s 7: Escape to Mother Ship Ward’s 7: Death Planet Blake’s 7 Ward’s 7: The Hunt Ward’s 7: Rescue The Flame in the Desert The Fugitive British Skiing Events Fiends of the Eastern Front Apeth (from Outer Space!) Tedosaurus (from Prehistoric Time!) A Walk in Our Village The Mountain Called Tyrannosaurus Rex Florence Nightingale War of the Worlds The Micronauts in: Supersilver
The Old Stone Age Ancient humans try to co-exist with cave lions and giant deer
Darth Vader An autograph from a genuine stand-in
Clarke Hall The place and time where it all began… September 1679?
The Forgotten World John and Mick fall foul of some extreme potholing
Bonfire Night Waen’s first time at the annual village fireworks display
Sheet Lightning Waen and his Gran shelter from the sheet- shaped storm
String Orchestra A visit from the North Yorkshire County Council Orchestra
BLONDIE! Pictures of Little Waen’s lovely blonde hair
A Typical Christmas Every Christmas Eve, we went to a party held by my Mum’s side of the family. Actually, it was more specifically her Dad’s side, the Atkinsons. I never met my Grandad - he died only three months before I was born - but I’m told he was a lovely bloke, always laughing and joking, the life and soul of the party, always generous, liked a drink, everybody loved him. If the rest of his family are anything to go by, that description’s probably bang on. The Atkinsons - and their extended relatives who would all gather for Christmas - loved having parties, and I loved going to them. Apart from my annual holiday to Blackpool and Christmas Day itself, the Christmas Eve party was pretty much the highlight of my year. I remember my Gran hosting it a few times when I was very young, but on this particular occasion in 1979, I’m pretty sure it was held at Auntie Em & Uncle Edwin’s house on Smawthorne Grove. Em (short for Emily) was Grandad Bill’s older sister, one of three Atkinson siblings (there were eight altogether) who had lived in Castleford all their lives. I remember their son, Morris - an architect, who was spectacularly funny when he was drunk - having an inebriated conversation with us as we were leaving in the car, about whether we should be called “Fairburners” or “Fairburnites”. We settled on the latter, said goodbye to the “Castlefordians” and that’s where this story begins. This is the first thing I wrote in my English book after returning from the Christmas break and marks the beginning of a glorious period of inspiration. I must say I’m very impressed with my memory - this is a whole fortnight since Christmas and I still remember what time I got up that morning. I’m even more impressed that I managed to stay in bed till 8.30! I imagine my family were relieved about that too. But enough of that. Let’s just open the presents! Captain America figure with shield I loved Marvel Comics and Captain America was one of my favourite characters, along with Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk and The Fantastic Four. Any super-hero related paraphernalia was always welcome. For some reason, I remember this was a present from my Auntie Edna. Leeds United towel & A pair of football boots It’s clear by this point that I had learned my lesson and decided to fit in by supporting a football team. Finally I had a proper pair of boots to play football in and a Leeds United towel to go with the bag and the strip. A dressing gown and a couple of shirts Meh. Terry’s Chocolate Orange A Christmas staple, I got one of these every single year since their inception. Actually, something tells me they were pretty new at the time. Hotspur Annual 1980 No doubt this was a present from my other Grandad, Jack (on my Dad’s side), who used to buy me the comics Hotspur, Warlord and Victor on a regular basis. I wasn’t much of a fan to be honest - Marvel Comics were my golden standard and I didn’t think these British ones really cut the mustard. (Not because they were British - see 2000 AD Annual below). Hotspur was slightly preferable to the others because it had strips like King Cobra which conformed to the superhero format I was used to, but Warlord and Victor were full of war stories that didn’t really appeal to me. Though naturally, I have fond (and probably inaccurate) memories of German soldiers screaming “Aaiiieeee, pigdog!” on every other panel. I eventually became convinced that Jack, who had fought in World War 2, secretly bought them because he liked reading them, and I was just a handy excuse. Doctor Who Annual 1980 The only thing on the list that I still have. My interest in the good Doctor was waning at the time, so I don’t think I ever really looked at it much, but the Doctor Who Annual was a Christmas staple, bought for me every year by my Gran from 1975 to 1983. Obviously, it’s long out of print, but you can read the whole thing as a PDF if you buy this DVD. 2000 AD Annual 1980 The 2000 AD annuals were never quite as good as the weekly comics, but again this was a Christmas staple which ended up in my stocking every year from the first annual (1977) to the fifth (1981). I no longer have any of these - I think because I gave them all away to a person I’d only just met, along with all my other 2000 AD comics, when I was 13 - but the months ahead were going to see me fall for 2000 AD in a big, big way. Dandy Annual 1980 OK, I lied. The Dr Who Annual isn’t the only thing on the list that I still have, because I also kept this Dandy book. Not exactly the sort of thing I’d normally hold onto - I was never much of a fan of the Dandy anyway. But if I ever get round to scanning it in and uploading it, you’ll see why I kept it. Great Space Battles and Spacecraft 2000 to 2100 AD These books were both part of the Terran Trade Authority series by Stewart Cowley and formed the inspiration for a story I wrote very early in my second term. My Mum still has these - I’d love to pilfer them back but my stepdad uses them as inspiration for his paintings, so he’ll probably get more fun out of them than I would. Note I actually didn’t read the title properly and have written 2001 instead of 2100. A digital watch The pinnacle of modern technology! Black, with a red LED display. It told the time, but that’s all. Looked great at night, with its little red numbers, but useless in sunlight. I seem to remember thinking myself quite the dandy with my incredible wrist technology, but by the end of the year, other kids had better watches with proper black numbers that you could actually see in the daytime and other useful functions like the date and a stopwatch, rendering my rubbish old watch a ridiculous antique. An electronic Battlestar Galactica Space Alert game This was, at the time, probably my favourite thing ever. It’s described in some detail in an essay I did later in the year (a wistful piece entitled “When I Was Happiest” which I’ll upload eventually when I get round to it). What connection this handheld electronic game had to Battlestar Galactica is hard to say, but at the time it was probably the most advanced handheld video game you could get. Micronauts The Micronauts were brilliant, and for a time eclipsed Star Wars figures as my favourite collectible toys. They were indeed much better than Star Wars figures, with more functional joints and interchangeable parts. The Battle Cruiser was by far my favourite of all the Micronaut range - a large white space cruiser with detachable shuttles (which also fired rubber missiles and could be used as pistols!), it was also motorised so it could move by “remote control” (actually the control had to be attached with a wire, but I didn’t care). This offered me months of joy until it was superceded the following year by a Millennium Falcon. The Giant Acroyear was almost as good (and the only one I drew a picture of) - a giant Japanese robot which could be shaped and reassembled into several vehicles, it was a clear forerunner of the Transformers, which were, sadly, after my time. Good God. I was absolutely spoilt rotten.
Monday January 7th, 1980
Christmas 1979
TERM 1 Sept-Dec 1979
TOPIC 1 Sept-Dec 1979
HISTORY 1 Sept 1979 - Oct 1981
SCIENCE 1 Sept 1979 - Mar 1980
FAIRBURN The place where I wrote all this rubbish
GEOGRAPHY 1 Sept 1979 - Feb 1981
The Forgotten World John and Mick fall foul of some extreme potholing
Bonfire Night Waen’s first time at the annual village fireworks display
String Orchestra A visit from the North Yorkshire County Council Orchestra
to be continued…