It was the kind of afternoon today where, even in the North-East of Scotland, the warmth of the air strikes you like a solid object and the sunshine burnishes the glass and concrete of the school yard. As a teacher, even as a relatively-inexperienced one, I’m sure you’re probably not supposed to be tempted to truant but I was: down by the River Lossie and along to the shops, then home.
I didn’t act on my impulse- even though home-working is accepted, in our contract, if you have no classes time-tabled. But I can remember my First Time…
Sports day at Strathaven Academy in late May or early June 1976. We saw all this on TOTP on BBC4 last year but on the radio they were playing ” Let Your Love Flow” by the Bellamy Brothers, “Silly Love Songs” by Wings and “Silver Star” by the Four Seasons. The second season of Survivors was on BBC1, teaching us about the dangers of wood alcohol. I was nearly 13 years old, almost at the end of First Year.
It had been a damp, showery morning and, with no interest at all in athletics, I just decided to walk off through the crowd on the school playing fields, out the gate on Bowling Green Road, and down Townhead Street into the Common Green. With an hour or so to kill before the East Kilbride bus left, I went to Baird’s pet store and newsagents-daring myself to walk past the Trustees Savings Bank, which my dad managed- and bought two comics:
It seems I was about a year behind with Kamandi. The lettercol promised a Giant next month with a map of Earth After Disaster. As you’ll recall from my Atlas post, I was a sucker for a map! However, the next issue I actually read was the Feb 1976 edition later that summer:
We were on holiday in Port William (which I revisited last summer for the first time in 35 years) and this comic probably came from Glenluce or Castle Douglas. I didn’t like the Kubert cover ( foolishly) although the Conway/Kirby contents were satisfactory. I’d pick up some more issues in the late 70s and early 80s -even that Giant, via mail order- but never recaptured the thrill of the original run.
The second comic from my truanting adventure was this issue of SLSH. A fairly tame Shooter/Bates/Grell collaboration, it features a quintessential line-up: noble Superboy, cerebral Brainiac 5, exotic Shadow Lass, spiky Wildfire and faux-Bruce Lee, Karate Kid. There’s a back-up about a phobic Shrinking Violet, in her fiendishly complex Cockrum outfit. But my abiding memory is of the letters page and the reference to new costumes for the Subs. I longed to see them and finally did, in the early 80s, when comic marts began in earnest in Glasgow. Needless to say, they were the usual revealing Grell/ Flash Gordon-ish wear. Nonetheless, the attenuated cartooning of Grell made any issue of SLSH an airy, slightly naughty viewing pleasure.
That Wednesday afternoon ( it may not have been a Wednesday but it feels like one) I wandered alone up Commercial Road into Flemington and back. Nowadays, as poacher turned gamekeeper, I’m astonished that a school could overlook that kind of absence. I don’t recall any repercussions at all even though I didn’t play truant again for another four years. I suppose the only lesson to be learned here is that as a former “school refuser”, I now willingly spend forty hours a week or so in a similar place to earn a living!
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