Every Christmas, during the ‘60s, I would be given, alongside two tangerines; a handful of walnuts and 2-packets of last years’ dates, the mandatory annual.
Which subject would my parents choose? Had they been listening to me throughout the year to get a feel in what I was interested in?
As, for several years on the trot, I received the Rupert annual, they clearly hadn’t. Unless they thought I was a secret Daily Express reader, I was always slightly disappointed. I didn’t possess a matching pair of distasteful yellow scarf and trousers – if I had been posher, I might have had; but this was Balham in the ‘60s, so that was never happening.
I’d have liked to have got the first edition, published in 1936, featuring stories where Rupert trains with Jesse Owens and Hitler invades Nutwood, with the pretence that there were German speakers living there.
After a while of the annuals still being in pristine condition the following December, my parents changed tack.
The Coronation Street annual was never the same after 1964, as it no longer featured pictures of Martha Longhurst.
I was thrilled, in 1967, to get the Man from U.N.C.L.E. annual – I’d always wanted to be Illya Kuryakin and had, as a teenager, an interest in east European female gymnasts.
My parental procurement of my annual annual stopped in 1972. Aged 15, you really don’t want your mates coming round to your place and seeing The Clangers annual taking pride of place on your bookcase.
There were some great soup recipes inside, though.