I always fancied being Big Chief I-Spy as I collected several of the pocket-sized books he began publishing from his office in Bouverie Street, throughout the 50s and 60s.
Because I rarely travelled outside the SW17 postcode as a child, books like I-Spy On The Farm; I-Spy At The Zoo and I-Spy Country Crafts remained largely empty. Although I did once make my own entry of 100 points for spotting a Woolly Mammoth on an imaginary farm.
I nearly completed I-Spy In The Street – spotting a Belisha Beacon; a Zebra Crossing and, if you took your A6 book out at night and walked up Bedford Hill in Balham, you’d get fifty points for spying “a lady of the night”.
The most marks you could get in I-Spy On The Train was ticking off a severed head which’d been poked too far out of a window you used to be able to pull down.
In 2011 new editions were launched to bring the series more up-to-date: I-Spy On A Car Journey In France being one. Within this the top points were: seeing the suspension go on a car carrying far too much cheap, Beaujolais; a French policeman nicking the car in front just because it had GB stickers on and General de Gaulle saying “Non!” (all a bit academic after Brexit).
The idea was actually first thought of in the seventeenth century with I-Spy At The Public Execution, where you were encouraged to look out for a basket (extra points if it contained a head); an axe and a woman with no teeth, knitting and swearing at the same time.
Keep ‘em peeled, as Big Chief I-Spy would say *
*With apologies to Shaw Taylor