If I couldn’t wait to pay for it myself out of sixpence a week pocket money, then this was reading matter that mattered.
You could get a lot for a tanner, including fat pink rectangles of Bazooka Joe bubble gum, wrapped in mini comic strips: brief funnies, chances to win free trashy merchandise and a phrase always of advice or fortune-telling. If you preferred mint chewing gum, then better than Wrigley’s strips were Beechnut bite size pieces, sugar-coated and peppermint. You put a penny in the machine on the street, turned the black knob and a little pack dropped out. Every fourth penny produced an extra free packet.
Sweets and comics were a realm of commerce where children held natural rule and our hunger produced an imaginative plenty. In the pages of comics, the delight in being silly, the desire to be nimble-witted and naughty, the yearning to be valiant and heroic, were validated and given free rein. Every week there were fresh new comics at the newsagent’s, or a friend had ones you could do swaps for.
My favourite titles and characters were:
Whizzer & Chips
Dennis the Menace
Roger the Dodge
Minnie the Minx
Beryl the Peril
Roy of the Rovers
The Bash Street Kids