The Things That Made Me: Part 4

In 2016 I made a three-part post listing things that had been significant accompaniments of my childhood. These were the books, films, TV programmes and toys that had profound effects on me, and in many instances were the signposts to future creativity. On the lists you’ll discover Famous Monsters of Filmland magazines and Mars Attacks collector-cards, the latter so frowned on by my mother when she discovered them in my bedroom that she took them away and destroyed them. There are the Topstone latex rubber ‘horror’ masks that I yearned for and never plucked up the courage to ask for, though I used regularly to haunt the ‘tricks, novelties and carnival masks’ shop that stocked them just up the road from where we lived. This yearning for what I knew to be illicit in terms of maintaining parental approval, made me uncomfortable. Conflicted. They were pleasures tarnished with guilt, and I guess we all know that those are the ones that can be the most thrilling.

Perhaps memory stretches further back the older you get, because more has recently surfaced from the murky depths. The Triang Minic clockwork Jabberocky is one of the unexpectedly ‘recovered memories’ of toys I’d long ago loved and lost, shaken into focus by a dim recollection swiftly followed by a trawl of the Internet.

Some of what’s here undoubtedly comes under the basic descriptive of ‘horror’, though there’s much that’s child-like and simple too. I think perhaps what’s so interesting about the child’s imagination is that it can safely embrace a diversity of ideas, all happily co-habiting. My parents were sometimes alarmed at where my interests settled, but for my own part, and left to my own devices, I was perfectly happy in the strange mix of imaginative realms.

The original idea of the lists was that beyond a few words of introduction, there should just be pictures. I’m sticking to that. I leave it to you to unwrap your recollections, if any, of what’s shown here. Maybe you’ll recognise some of the images taken from films, and you can amuse yourselves trying to recall their titles.

You can read Parts 1, 2 and 3 by clicking below.

Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3





















Above: No-one is going to get this!












The above film is a tricky one, though I fully expect Lorrie Carse-Wilen to nail it!







17 thoughts on “The Things That Made Me: Part 4

  1. Fascinating stuff Clive! I was in the hospital room next to Arthur Askey, at a hospital in Sussex, when we were both very ill. I was young and lucky to make it…….

  2. I love all these memories Clive. What a rich childhood you had!
    Thank you for the faith in my knowing the Eagle image.
    It was Night of the Eagle, AKA Burn Witch Burn in the U.S😘💕

    • Ha ha! Clever Lorrie! Based of course on Fritz Lieber’s 1943 novel ‘Conjour Wife’, though the setting was changed from the US to England. Richard Matheson was a fan of the novel, which is why he wanted to adapt it to a screenplay. His co-writers on the project were Charles Beaumont and George Baxt.

      Now if you can name the other three untitled films – images number 6, 10 and 13 – I’ll give you a prize!

  3. Marionettes, Aurora Monster Kits, Patrick McGoohan, toy theatres. . . some of these things partially made me, as well. Although I am a relatively young person (who is getting older by the hour), these vintage toys, the kind that one might see in a Joseph Cornell box, have often enchanted me. I own, amongst other things, a marionette magus from Prague and a Chinese hand-puppet in a gaudy pink robe and with a flocculent white beard; these things often excite my imagination. I still have the Aurora Forgotten Prisoner kit on my shelf; it is quite dusty, as a forgotten corpse should be.

    Have you seen the short films of the Brothers Quay? I think you would appreciate them very much.

    • Hello Liam. I too had an Aurora kit – just the one – and it was of The Phantom of the Opera. I assembled and painted it, but I never really got on with those enamel paints that model-making suppliers used to recommend and sell, and I was deeply disappointed by the glossy finish of the figure when dry. Now I’d know how to handle the paints, but back then it seemed like trying to work with nail-varnish. (I never had another Aurora figure after that, and when I was given a kit of The Visible Man, I left him unpainted as I better liked him that way.)

      Czech marionettes and Chinese glove-puppets sound like the biz! I have a couple of Chinese glove-puppets with painted plaster heads and incredibly ornate costumes, clearly made for the tourist market, but charming in their own fashion. Puppets have always drawn me with their capacity for assuming lives of their own.

      The Brothers Quay! Now you’re talking. And Svankmajer, of course, the ‘Master’! But look up Yuri Norstein, too. His film ‘Hedgehog in the Mist’ is a masterpiece.

  4. I love these texts about your own History, Clive.
    You are so Young, and British on top of that !!!

    I am quite a lot older. Moreover I was born in Spain after our Uncivil War, into a family of Dinosaurs. (The “modern” members of our family had died during that war, or just a very few years afterwards ).

    We girls, were given Fabiola, Heidy, the Comtesse de Ségur books…
    I asked for Christmas gifts of toy bows and arrows, comics, toy trains and lorries and suchlike, and never got them. I ended up with dolls and miniature tea sets!

    I had to bribe my brother to let me borrow his Christmas gifts, and I read his comics on the slide. So, my childhood rememberances are quite different from yours.

    But the moment I grew up a little, my grandmother, who did not sew and was hopeless at cooking, decided I needed to become the family chauffeur (when she was not available) and taught me all sorts of things about vehicles and how to change spare parts, which was possible in those old cars

    When at 21 years of age I became a mother of my own family, I had to learn to sew, and to cook from scratch, but by then, I had made my peace with being a girl.

    These days you get every glitch in every car diagnosed by a machine, so all that mechanic’s savvy I learned is no use at all. Just rememberances from my own youth. Long ago.

    Love from Madrid

    • Ahhh, Maria, how I love your recollections. And how I love the fact that despite old-fashioned attitudes toward girls at that time, you nevertheless found your way. You were ‘true’ to yourself, taking alternative routes to what you needed to be. But I like that your non-sewing, non-cooking grandmother noticed, and taught you the things that helped you keep your cars running until the pesky manufacturers made everything too complicated for ‘home-repairs’!

      Sending love to you and Javier from the Ystwyth Valley. XXX

  5. Some of these photos create a shudder of a memory evoking a feeling so fleeting I cannot grasp it. Particularly the “theatre you can make”, it’s almost a taste or a smell I remember, but oh so distant I cant pinpoint it. I feel such comfort knowing we both grew up with the same books and film images, like being part of a family. A wonderful trip down memory lane for me as well, thanks ! XxxL ps I see Nicholas Parsons and Kenneth Connor there……..

    • Lizzie, there’s much pleasure in knowing we share a cultural history, and that something in our DNA aesthetic makes our tastes run parallel.

      The pic of Nicholas and Kenneth made me smile when I found it. Ken was one of the best dames I worked with in all my years of directing pantomimes, and the sweetest, most loveable of men. (Mrs Crusoe, Robinson Crusoe, Eastbourne, nineteen-hundred-and-frozen-to-death!)

      • returning to this post I see you have added the War Lord, oh the guilt, the guilt to know I held it hostage for at least 25 years!! As you know it materialised amongst our record collection only recently, being hidden in an unpacked box dated from when we moved 30 years ago…..

        Yes I imagine Kenneth Connor was a lovely guy, how do I sense that having never met him? There’s more to that which is captured by the camera than meets the eye.

        Interesting reading Viejecita’s memories of Spain during those same years, hard times indeed, bringing to mind Pan’s Labyrinth. xxL

        • Dear, sweet Lizzie

          I am so glad you had The Warlord. It’s the sole album of my one-time collection of vinyl film soundtracks to have survived my growing up and moving around for so many years. All the other vinyl – and I had a lovely collection – had long-ago vanished. So the fact that you kept this one safe for me, means that I have it now. You have nothing to chastise yourself for. On the contrary, you saved it for me.

          Kenneth and Dickie Henderson – both in that same Eastbourne pantomime – were the loveliest and most gracious souls, and I loved working with them. I recall sitting in Kenneth’s dressing-room while the two of them reminisced about past friends. Dickie was rather stricken by the loss of his friend Arthur Askey, who he adored. Dickie had been my mentor, taking me to London Management with him as a director after I’d choreographed a production he’d been in, on which he thought I’d done rather more than just choreograph the show. I can’t say I loved being at London Management, but it really advanced my career as a director, and I have Dickie to thank for it.

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