My Life Revisited — Part 4: 1979



Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s SuperNod! Brandon Routh eat your heart out. One year after my last primary school fancy dress contest (when I entered as a matchbox), it was time to go for something a little more dramatic. My mum did great work in stitching together a very impressive Superman logo and making a cape. The rest of the costume was as follows:

  1. Blue polo neck top (turtle neck if you are of a USA persuasion). These seemed to be a lot more popular when I was younger. Can’t remember the last time I wore one.
  2. A pair of blue girls tights (I felt very awkward about wearing these)
  3. Red swimming trunks
  4. Red wellies (or rain boots if you prefer). These were borrowed from my neighbour’s sister as I recall

I remember that I kept the cape for several years after this which was great for an instant Superman effect. The Man of Steel was very popular around that time (the original Christopher Reeve Superman film had come out the previous summer), and such popularity ensured there was another Superman entrant in the fancy dress contest. I think I won a prize for my costume, though I think that they were fairly generous in giving out lots of prizes. I don't think you actually received anything at all, just the honour of being chosen as a winner.

My hair was still quite blonde at the time, and I would still be sporting the ‘pudding bowl’ haircut style for a few more years to come. Note that I'm standing on our 'crazy paving' patio. This seemed to be all the rage in the 70's though it's not particularly crazy by most definitions of the word. I bet it was invented by people who realised that there was a market for people who couldn't afford to buy paving stones that are all the same shape. And speaking of irregularly shaped, cheaper versions of people remember buying bags of broken biscuits at the supermarket?

My Life Revisited — Part 3: 1978



This picture might look a bit strange so I’ll explain as best I can. The picture was taken during a birthday party at my house. It would have been my 7th birthday. Check out the lovely patterned curtains, and the general overpowering presence of the colour brown in the furniture and carpet. Brown was big in the 70’s!

I’m sitting on the far end of the couch, wearing the green safari outfit which I just loved (this wasn’t a fancy dress costume by the way). The dapper looking gentleman on my left was my neighbour — and is still my good friend —Tony. He doesn’t wear the tie so much these days though. The next guy has faded from my memory and I would be pushed to even hazard a guess at his name. Sititng next to him is Mark who lived a few doors down the road from me. He had also made an effort to smarten up for the party, well at least he had shiny brown shoes on. The kid nearest to the camera is another old friend, Kevin. We were best buddies for quite a few years and used to both be hugely into Star Wars (well wasn’t everyone back then?).

The strange facial expressions that we all seem to be adopting in the picture is because there was, off to the right of the picture, a magician! It was unbelievably cool to have my very own magician perform for me at my party. I think he was getting us all to blow at something that he was holding. I could be completely wrong, he may have just asked us to make silly faces for his own amusement.

Every seven year old should have a magician perform at a birthday party. You’re at the age where it is easy to be astounded by relatively simple acts of magic. I was very into magic for the next 10 years or so of my life, probably because of this birthday party

My Life Revisited — Part 2: 1978


This is me, in my back a matchbox. While I was at primary school, there used to be a summer fete held every year, and for at least some of those years they held a fancy dress competition as part of the fete. These fancy dress competitions were not so much for the kids...they were for the parents.

I have to applaud the inventiveness and technical abilities of my mum and dad as they did all the work. As I was only six at the time, I doubt that I personally suggested going as a matchbox, and I further doubt that I had much involvement in the construction process. When anyone goes to a fancy dress party today, it seems that people most likely will just hire or buy their costumes. But in 1978, costume hire was not really an option (at least not in Haverhill, Suffolk) and so there was a need for ingenuity and considerable amounts of glue and tape.

I think that the bulk of this ‘costume’ was fashioned from the cardboard packaging of some self-assemble furniture. There was a quite a bit of attention to detail in that there was - at least as I recall - an inner box that could slide within the outer container. The detail on the front of the box is a fairly good (hand painted) replica of an actual brand of matches that you could buy in 1978 (for just three pence).

My parents also gave me a red swimming cap that I was meant to put on my head so that I would physically resemble a matchstick in the matchbox, though somehow I think I opted to not wear that on the day of the competition. I don’t recall winning the contest, but I do remember there being more than one prize so I may have won something (best costume in the ‘Smoker’s accessories’ category?). As I recall, there were lots of entrants in these contests...but there was only ever one matchbox!

My Life Revisited — Part 1: 1977

This is the first of a short blog series featuring some old pictures of me from the distant past, along with some commentary on my memories of life at that time. Let's start by seeing how my youthful visage looked back in 1977:


This school photo was taken when I was five or six years old, it’s hard to be sure because the photo would have been taken near to the start of the new school year which was also near to my birthday.

At this point in time, I had just started my second year of ‘primary’ school. Different regions in the UK have different systems for schooling. In Suffolk, there were (or still are) primary, secondary, and upper schools. The primary school I went to had an optional ‘nursery’ year (like kindergarten in the US I guess), which I also attended. So technically, this was my third year at the school. My teacher that year was Mrs Jackson and my main memories of her — well my only memories really — were that she seemed very tall and that she wore jeans a lot.

At that time, we were learning to read and write English, but not the form of English that most people would recognize. Our school embraced what seemed to be a widespread (at least in the UK) experimental way of learning English. The system was called the Initial Teaching Alphabet (ITA) and looking back, it was a very strange system, not least because the alphabet has 42 letters! Still, I can’t say that it has caused me any long-term damage in my subsequent education. 

One of my main memories from that year at school was that one pupil — a certain Mr. Todd if memory serves me correctly — was keen to demonstrate to the class that he could generate a cool and somewhat mysterious sound simply by the act of walking around. The teacher allowed him to demonstrate this to the entire class and so he proudly strode up and down the room. Sure enough, as he marched back and forth, we could hear a faint noise that appeared to originate from his lower torso. The teacher then calmly explained to him that this noise was simply due to the fabric of his extensively flared trousers rubbing together as his legs passed each other (




back then). I think this factual explanation left him feeling very deflated as he was pinning his hopes on more of a magical reason for his trouser-based emanations.

Sometimes you remember uplifting, or life-changing events from your distant past. Me? I remember noisy trousers.