Category: Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate

FREE THRILLER: ORDO LUPUS AND THE TEMPLE GATE!

Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate - Extended Edition coverHAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYBODY!

To celebrate, I am giving away the second edition of Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate: Blood Moon Prophecy Part 1 – the one with the Secret Codes – on Amazon. It’s only free until 2 January so download it now: http://bit.ly/1gWteFq

Free Champagne
There is still time to win the FREE BOTTLE OF CHAMPAGNE in my competition which now closes on 1 January 2015, if you sign up for the Newsletter:

The Man Who Recreated Himself coverThree Free Thrillers
Now you can also get THREE FREE THRILLERS; The Man Who Recreated Himself, The Ice Boat Volume I and The Ice Boat Volume 2 when you sign up for the Newsletter! Don’t want Three Free books? Fair enough!

The Man Who Recreated Himself – Third Edition: (21st Century Prophet and Redeemer Thriller)

The Ice Boat: Volume 1 (On the Road from London to Brazil) (Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll – Pulling Down the Pants of Nick Kent and Jack Kerouac).

The Ice Boat coverThe Ice Boat: Volume 2: (On the Road from Brazil to Siberia) (Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll – Pulling Down the Pants of Nick Kent and Jack Kerouac) http://bit.ly/1gCfK15

It’s all free here today so, once again, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Will David Caravan, Ed Millipede, Nick Pleb or Nigel Mirage win Wacky Races?

This week: we ride with the Wackiest Racers of them all as we speed towards the 2015 United Kingdom General Election

But first (just like the adverts that would have proceeded Wacky Races on US TV), a reminder that Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate is now FREE on most Amazon sites, Google Play globally, most iTunes (Apple) sites around the world, Smashwords (including FlipKart) and all Bookbaby outlets (including Oyster, txtr and E-Sentral). See my Availability in your country page for more details. If you cannot find it free, email me: lazloferran@gmail.com

Ed Millipede
Ed Millipede
UK General Election Wacky Races – Episode 1
We are at the starting line and Ed Millipede, in his Millipedobile, is looking for a fast way though the three big players so that he doesn’t get squashed.

This week, he has been doing his best, to impede the cross-team talks about self-regulation during the coming season of races. The Big 3 want to decide the rules for each race before the start of each round but Ed’s having none of it. By claiming that there was a step at the entrance to the meeting tent, which he simply couldn’t climb in time, he effectively vetoed the new rule making system.

David Caravan
David Caravan
David Caravan, true to form, has lit up his Lightning Caravan Camel with a pack of special label-less Marlboro cigarettes, totally outside the rules of course, but that camel sure does move! He has ruled out a newcomer to the Races, Alex Salmon from that wee Scotland country, a fish who can swim faster than a barracuda, simply because Alex wants to have a say in rule making within the UK. Home rule eh, David?

Nigel Mirage
Nigel Mirage
Meanwhile, Nigel Mirage is having trouble getting his French Dassault Mirage fighter, rebuilt as a jet-car, anywhere near the starting line after first mistakenly calling the French mechanics frogs – don’t know how he could make that mistake – and then apparently vanishing into thin air just when he should have been putting on his suit! Shame his lovely secretary… and wife… Kirsten, a former German, wasn’t around to pour the gaseous Mirage into his suit. Without it, he is just hot air! But then again, with French ancestry himself, it’s hard to see anything real about Mirage at all!

Nick Pleb
Nick Pleb
And finally, the smallest of the Big 3, Nick Pleb comes to the starting line! Nick has been trying so hard to convince us that his Plebmobile is really nothing more than a Ford Escort, that he forgot to put a supercharged engine in the…beast… But he did manage to get loud exhaust pipes, leaving him with a mouse that roars! Rather like him, really. We hope that Nick doesn’t get mistaken for one of his own mechanics at a pit-stop and lose the race because it’s not him in the car at the finish!

It looks like the Wacky Races are going to be Wackier than every before folks! So tune in soon for more escapades of the Dastardly Dudes, as they race towards the final finishing line in Westminster.

Please comment with your suggestion for another Racer in Wacky Races and why. The best comment will win a mention in the last of my Wacky Races before the Election.

Wacky Races
Wacky Races

Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate is now permanently FREE globally

BookCoverPreview

I am delighted to announce that Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate is now FREE on most Amazon sites, Google Play globally, most iTunes (Apple) sites around the world, Smashwords (including FlipKart) and all Bookbaby outlets (including Oyster, txtr and E-Sentral). See my Availability in your country page for more details. If you cannot find it free, email me: lazloferran@gmail.com

Free: Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate – Extended Edition

Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate - Extended Edition cover
Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate – Extended Edition cover

Now you have the unique opportunity to download the 5-star Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate FREE on Amazon. From 10-14 October, you can click on the link below and get it absolutely free. This eBook has 15,000 words not included in the standard edition and normally retails for $4.39 so this is a great bargain! Make the most of the opportunity and grab a copy! http://bit.ly/ordo1ext

Want Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate – Extended Edition FREE?

Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate - Extended Edition cover
Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate – Extended Edition cover

This weekend you will get the unique opportunity to download the 5-star Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate FREE on Amazon. From 10-14 October, you can click on the link below and get it absolutely free. This eBook has 15,000 words not included in the standard edition and normally retails for $4.39 so this is a great bargain! Make the most of the opportunity and grab a copy! Click here to see the book on Amazon.

The extra material is mostly about the main character’s early life; service in the RAF as a Blenheim pilot and his life as an MI-6 agent in Bulgaria, where he met Rose. The RAF section includes a nail-biting account of the attack on Holland which decimated the Squadron. There is much more detail about Rose’s early encounters with John, including a shower and lovemaking scene. None of these are in the standard edition. If you have read the standard edition, download the book to read these scenes!

Sneak preview of Ordo Lupus III: what do you think?

Here is the second preview of Ordo Lupus III, the as yet untitled third and final book in the series. I hope you like it. Please comment because your feedback is valuable to me.

Ordo Lupus III

Copyright © 2014 by Lazlo Ferran

All Rights Reserved.

We reached the street above the Street of the Salt Sellers and turned into it. Some way along it, Guillaume pointed to a small outcrop of rocks to the left.

“That courtyard. The entrance should be in there.”

Two Roman guards stood guard outside a heavy iron grill in a courtyard.

“Now what?” Hugo asked.

“I can deal with this easily,” I whispered. “Give me a few moments.”

Directly above the iron grill was a rock-face, perhaps thirty feet high but slightly to the nearside was a ledge only ten feet above the two guards. What was more, I could see an easy way to reach the ledge. Within minutes, I was in place and then leaped down on the nearest guard in dog form. I tore his throat out before he could react. The other guard had a one hand full of figs and the other raised to his mouth, He was too shocked to do anything but drop the figs and reach for his sword. I was upon him well before it left its sheath.

“No! No! No!” was his eloquent protest when my canines penetrated his neck. I transformed back to my usual self, my fangs still immersed in his warm blood. I tasted a sample before dropping him to the ground.

“Later!” I whispered. “It’s been a long time since I tasted the blood of Rome.”

I waved to the others and John’s keen eyes saw that the way was clear. Unfortunately, the guards kept no keys but a big heave with the hilt of a sword hilt broke the chain around the grill.

We’re in!

Every second man drew a torch, made from oil-soaked cloth wrapped around a short staff. They lit them to light our way. From a pouch, Guillaume drew out a tattered piece of parchment and checked his bearings in the flickering torchlight. Ahead of us the tunnel opened up. You could see where large, rectangular blocks of white limestone had been hewn from the cave’s walls, ceiling and floor, leaving an uneven surface like an old pavement.

“This way!” he announced, afterwards muttering, “If nothing has changed!”

He led us south, into a vast chamber perhaps 350 feet wide, and on into a series of low tunnels.

“What are we looking for,” John asked Guillaume. “Can I see the diagram?”

We huddled round as the knight held up the parchment.

I saw three diagrams and some text. From left to right, I saw: a snake wrapped around a staff underneath what looked like a twelve-pointed star around an eye; a crude depiction of six soldiers carrying a body wrapped in a sheet, with a crucifixion cross as background and a diagram showing a tunnel complex. Centrally placed, underneath the three diagrams was the single Hebrew word, ‘ישוע.’

***

So what do you think? Answers on a postcard please.

Profits from eBooks! and: Memories of the 1960s: Issue V – School

This week: Profits from eBooks! and: Memories of the 1960s: Issue V – School

Memories of the 1960s: Issue V – School

Typical 1960s English school buildings
Typical 1960s English school buildings

Prepare to have all the myths of how school was Heaven in the 60s blasted away and for myths that it was Hell to be destroyed. This is what it was like for me.

I spent my school years, until the age of fourteen, in Buckinghamshire. Now, I am not saying the true-blue ultra-conservative Buckinghhamshire is backward but the last time I looked at the council’s website it had chains running down each side! That was back in the 90s. In the 60s, they were just about as blue as you can get and they certainly believed in giving every child’s sanity a run for its money.

The Bucks model of education was simple: your kid had to pass their eleven-plus exam to get a proper education. Anything else was failure and rewarded with being sent to a ‘secondary-modern,’ which in Bucks meant a school for dunces. There you would never get the chance to do O’Levels or A’Levels and you would certainly never go to University. So every day of your school life, you were having the message ‘Success is everything’ rammed down your throat. Unfortunately, the flip-side of this philosophy was the message that ‘humanity is nothing.’ It was only many years later that we would all discover Hans Eysenick’s IQ based formula for the eleven-plus exam was all based on fake research.

My first memory is of the first day. I was five. I somehow managed to annoy the teachers, Mrs Barnes and Mrs Farrow, and was made to stand in the corner. My reputation as a trouble-maker seemed to grow from there. But in general, being made to sit next to girls and getting to play in the sun for hours couldn’t have seemed too bad in 1967. I actually remember many of us dancing to Yellow Submarine in the playground, a year later. We thought the song was a traditional song!

The School Day

Our day would begin with assembly, basically a church meeting complete with prayers and hymns, followed by our first lesson, a break of 15 minutes and another lesson until lunch at 12 noon. At 1 pm, later extended to 1.15 pm, we would have another lesson, then another break at 2 pm, followed by the last lesson and then home at 3 pm.

Sport

Sports Day
Sports Day

Once or twice per week, a whole morning or afternoon would be give over to sports. We had to play in any weather and in fact, we had to spend every break-time outside, even in the direst thunderstorm or the worst snow. Nobody questioned this. Undoubtedly the weirdest ‘sports’ experience I had was when we were split into pairs of a boy and girl and told to slap each other’s legs as hard as we could. I was lucky enough to be paired with Shirley, who was to become the love of my life after this! She had dark, curly hair, darting, intelligent eyes and the looks of a Thomas Hardy heroine although she said she had gypsy blood. I learned that she had strong legs too after slapping them for ten minutes. Why the Bucks education system considered this an acceptable game, I couldn’t tell you. Perhaps they thought a bit of S&M would teach women their places. Anyway, Shirley, if you are out there, sorry I was so good at slapping your legs.

Class sizes

With the baby-boom in full swing, class sizes rose to 58, in the case of mine. It was a scandal that was reported in the papers and parents protested. But there was nothing to be done. Nothing, that is, except get the children to teach. Yes! I’m not lying. As the best reader in my class, I was given my own remedial reading class which I took under the stairs near the entrance to the main block. It was a challenge because most of my small class of perhaps 8 readers had dyslexia. I can’t remember if I managed to improve their reading. I just knew they had a problem. It was only two years later, that one of those pupils, by this time a friend, was diagnosed with dyslexia.

School Dinners

School Dinners
School Dinners

Time to dish the dirty: school dinners in Bucks were crap! In fact, not only crap, but most of the time, inedible. All would be served in stainless steel containers, even the water, which was our only drink. The steel gave everything a certain ‘tang.’ I particularly hated the pilchards which were pickled in vinegar and tomato sauce. I hate vinegar anyway, it makes me sick, and the tomatoes used were so stewed that you couldn’t tell what they were any more. I used to hide my pilchards under the scoop of Smash (commercial mash potato which tasted like cotton wool). But then, Mrs Parks, the most evil teacher in the school, wised up to my technique and forced me to eat it while she held my spoon-hand firmly. I warned her:
“I will be sick on you if you make me eat this.”
She ignored me and, consequently, I vomited all over her skirt.
Besides the teachers, local women came in for lunchtime to watch over us, while the heads of each table, usually two children from the senior year, would serve the food frim the metal containers. We called them ‘Serving Ladies,’ one being Mrs. Rance.
Other odd dishes were: the strawberry blancmange which tasted of lipstick and stuck to the plate if you turned it upside down; swede; parsnips and jam pudding. All were prepared so badly that they put me off such food forever.
The only dishes I liked were: fried cod; semolina and chocolate sauce; chocolate sponge cake and shortcake biscuits with dollops of strawberry jam on top. In fact, a friend and I tried to eat as many portions of fried cod as we could and made ourselves sick this way!

Here are the 10 school dinner combinations I can remember:

Main Course:

Roast lamb with mint sauce, carrots and peas, boiled potatoes
Roast beef (and Yorkshire pudding – Yum), gravy, roasted potatoes
Toad in the hole (sausages in battered pudding), roasted potatoes, turnips
Battered cod fish (this was ok), chips, peas or carrots
Pilchards in vinegar with turnips, synthetic mashed potatoes (yuch!)
Kippers with swede, rice
Sausages with baked beans, synthetic mashed potatoes
Scrambled egg with baked beans, synthetic mashed potatoes
Liver with boiled potatoes, carrots or peas
Fishcakes or fish fingers with synthetic mashed potato and peas or carrots

Pudding:

Yellow blancmange (lemon)
Pink blancmange (raspberry)
Spotted dick (sponge with currants)
Shortbread biscuits with jam
Jam doughnuts
Semolina with chocolate sauce
Tapioca with jam
Rice pudding with jam
Chocolate sponge pudding (hot) with hot chocolate sauce

Slade - Merry Christmas Everybody
Slade – Merry Christmas Everybody

A special mention has to go out here to Douglas McKelvie, the head teacher, and the best teacher, of the school. I had him in my last year and hated him at first. He had the habit of running across the desk tops or flicking chalk at you, if you talked. He would often sit a boy next to a girl just to see what happened. In fact, even though I was desperate to sit next to Shirley, he put me next to Alison, a pretty blonde. The strange thing was that a few months later, my sister and I were sent to stay at the Alison’s house for the week before Christmas. To the eternal anthem of Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody (video) I tried to puzzle out what was going on. There were many things I didn’t understand about the Buckinghamshire education system; why did they line us all up from time to time and inject us with strange things called ‘typhoid jabs’ or run eye tests that showed us we had deficient vision and then try to force us to wear thick lenses which clearly (pun intended) made things worse? Why did they get boys to slap girls’ legs? But most of all, I wanted to know why the parents and school seemed to be in league, matchmaking, or indeed match-breaking, pupils?

In the autumn of 1974, it all came crashing to a ugly, heartbreaking halt for me. They had wanted to know my IQ for so long that I thought it might be some kind of biological substance inside me. Was I toxic? Every few weeks, we were given these strange tests called ‘mocks’. And then, without warning, I came to school one day and found the classroom desks equipped with a pencil, eraser and a stapled examination paper. It was the eleven-plus exam. There were three papers, the last in February or March. I did well at the first two and I had no reason to worry; I had scored 86% in the last mock exam. But late in the spring, the awful ‘results day’ came.
Buckinghamshire Council didn’t mess about. Douglas McKelvie called out each of our names and we went to the front of the class to collect our white envelope. If it was fat, you had passed but if it was thin, you were going to a secondary modern. Mine was thin.

Whether you liked it or not, within minutes, everyone knew everyone else’s results. Shirley has passed and would go on to Dr. Challoners High School for girls, the best school in the area. But worse than this, my friend, who had passed, and I had a fight. I don’t know for certain what it was about; my memory is that he teased me about failing and I insulted him back, calling him fat. That may be wrong. In any case, we ended up, that very day, on the playground tarmac, fighting it out. It was dirty and no-holds-barred. It was my first fight and I won. That I do remember clearly.

Was that the last time I saw Shirley? Actually, no. I cried for days at my own failure. Never has failure been driven home so absolutely as it was in Buckinghamshire. I lost most of my friends that day and I lost most of my hopes and dreams. Later, I would be saved when my parents moved to a different, more progressive county. Before the end of term, another girl organised a birthday for the summer holidays. I wasn’t invited. But I lobbied hard and managed to get in. It was a ‘Tramps’ party, in which you had to dress up as a – tramp. Who should be there but Shirley. My little autograph book had been all round the class on the last day of term and had every signature, except hers because she had been on holiday with her friends. Now was my chance to steal something! We played spin-the-bottle, a kissing game, and a kiss from Shirley would certainly be something worth stealing. Now, I have to mention here that Shirley had always been nice to me, she had taught me Origami under the stairs, but I had never had the guts to tell her how I felt, so I couldn’t call her my sweetheart. I had certainly never kissed her. But I was hopeful. In the end, the kissing gods were not on my side and I didn’t get the chance to kiss her. I didn’t even have the guts to ask her for a dance. I might well have said to myself:
“Welcome to the real world!”

What are your memories of the 1960s? Leave a comment below.

Download three free eBooks by clicking here: http://bit.ly/3fbsup
Profits from eBooks!

Finally, I have made a profit from a promotional campaign to promote one of my eBooks, Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate. We’re not talking big figures here, in fact, well less than $100. Nevertheless, It has taken me over a year to find something that works. From what other writers are telling me, it’s getting harder and harder to rake in the cash for eBooks. But I managed to beat the odds, at least once. Read on for how I did it:

I have tried marketing using twitter, Facebook paid adverts and google’s AdSense. For free downloads, Facebook’s adverts worked best but you are looking at upwards of $40 to get a couple of thousand downloads if you’re lucky. Of course, there is no money in that!

I have tried for almost a year (since hearing about them) to get on Bookbub and E Reader News Today (ENT) . I am still trying to get accepted for Bookbub, which costs at least $110, depending on genre, but have so far have been unsuccessful. I finally managed to get on ENT about a month ago and, what is more, they scheduled me for 5th July, a day after American Independence Day. I was delighted. But I wasn’t convinced it would draw any sales. Consequently, I signed up for (initially) 1 day of tweets from The Book Tweeting service. This was to be on the 4th July, just to get things going. It wouldn’t help the other sales but it’s always good to coordinate these things to get the highest rank possible. High Rank = More Sales.

By Saturday 5th July, I had seen no sales at all from hundreds of tweet to over 100,000 potential customers. I cancelled the second day of tweets although I must say, the staff were very friendly and helpful and did their best.

However, by midnight of the Saturday, I had already seen 8 solid sales from the E Reader News Today service. It works! I was delighted and will try them again, if they will have me.

is the UK Film Industry becoming puerile?

News
This week’s post will be brief. I have only just completed a big promo for Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate. Sales were satisfying but now I need time to write. Whisper it: I have just started work on Ordo Lupus III. So:

 DO NOT DISTURB!

The Devil’s Own Dice: FREE in Exchange for Review
Today is the last day you can download occult thriller The Devil’s Own Dice for free on (Link no longer available) in exchange for a review. Here is what some people are saying about it: “Amazing tale” “Richly satisfying” “Highly recommended” Make sure you make the most of this unique opportunity and grab a copy NOW!

Just a Brief Rant
A movie of Pudsey? Will they stop at nothing? I sometimes wonder if the puerile at the top of the BBC that oversaw Jimmy Saville’s reign aren’t now in charge of the UK movie industry!
It can’t be long before we get an adult semi-porno version of Captain Pugwash and then, who know, maybe even Andy Pandy, the Movie!
Meanwhile, they will ignore gems like The Aeronauts, UFO, Catweazle, The Crusader, The Flashing Blade and Robinson Crusoe. They will even manage to ignore my personal favourite, Captain Scarlet.

What’s your opinion?

The Jesus Monster entered into competition
I have entered an updated version of The Jesus Monster (one of a collection of short stories in Vampire: Beneficence into the Writers of the Future quarterly competition. Thanks to all who helped me prepare the manuscript and please keep your fingers crossed for me!

Bargain book and Memories of the 1960s: Issue IV – Shopping

There is a permanent page for Memories of the 1960s here.

First of all, a heads up that Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate will be reduced to 99 cents from 4-8 July on Amazon. Please note, this is a Countdown deal so the price will gradually rise back up to $3.08 over a couple of days. Grab your copy while it is cheap!

Memories of the 1960s: Issue IV – Shopping

Shopping was confusing in the 1960s, even if you only had pocket money of one shilling to spend, as I did.

Threepenny Bit
Threepenny Bit

The old system of currency could be traced back to the Roman Empire and was based on the penny, symbolised by the letter ‘d’ for denari. Under this system, there were 12 pence in a shilling and 20 shillings, or 240 pence, in a pound. Needless to say, for a kid whose mathematical skills were still developing, I needed one of my parents with me to shop for anything at all!

Of course, things were much cheaper then. Most things for kids, such as singe records (45 rpm), toy cars and dollhouse items were much than one pound, so I could save up for a toy car roughly once every ten weeks.

We lived in a small town of about 20,000 people. We didn’t have a supermarket, so general shopping was a nightmare! The nearest was Sainsbury’s in another town, but my mum only occasionally went there for fresh fish, which was almost all it served. It looked more like a butcher shop or a pie shop, with white, marble slabs for meat and fish, green, decorative tiles near the ceiling and a white, decorative plaster-work ceiling. In our town, there was a huge, central car park, which was always packed, so my mum would often drive around the one-way system several times waiting to get in. From here, it was a systematic shop up and down the High Street, going to the British Gas showroom to pay the gas bill (which, I might add, was often the only warm shop in the Chiltern Hills harsh winters), then to shops for smaller items like magazines, books, shoes, clothes or – if you were lucky – toys. Sometimes you would go back to the car with the bags of shopping before visiting the food shops, because there was just so much to carry!

Food shops were butchers, bakers, delicatessens (for milk and dairy products), green grocers (for fruit, vegetables, spices, cereals and specialities) and, if you were lucky, sweet shops. By the time you had done all this, you were exhausted!

Shoe Fitting Fluoroscope
Shoe Fitting Fluoroscope

Shoe shopping was particularly interesting in the 1960s, which was just as well as I didn’t like getting new shoes; they were always too narrow for my feet and hurt for the first few weeks of wearing. There were these strange machines in the shops that reminded me of the Dr Who Tardis. You stood on a platform and the machine X-Rayed your feet to find exactly the right fitting for you. So basically we were subjecting ourselves to dangerous radiation just for a shoe-fitting, although we didn’t realise the danger at the time! The machines, I only found out recently, were called Shoe Fitting Fluoroscopes.

Although not strictly shopping, visits to the library were frequent, because books were expensive and beyond the budget of most kids. Even for a town of 20,000 people our library was only about the size of an average shop and very poorly stocked. In about 1969 we finally got the library we deserved in a large, modern and airy new building. It took a while for the shelves to be filled, but soon I was able to hunt down speciality books on all sorts of fields within WWII, which was my great interest at the time.

Woolworths in the 1960s
Woolworths in the 1960s

Even the least persuasive child could usually engineer a visit to Woolworths and Co. Woolies, as we affectionately called it, stocked just about everything, but most importantly, it had toys, records and sweets. 7 inch 45 rpm records were for single tracks, an A-side and B-side, the A-side being the hit single for say, the Beatles. A 45 rpm would be 9 shillings and 11 pence, the equivalent of 49p in decimalised currency. A 12 inch Long Playing record (or LP) was usually 19 shillings and six pence, the equivalent of 99p. My first LP was Geoff Love’s Big War Movie themes, which I still have.

If my mum wanted fresh bread, I would have to walk about a mile down an extremely steep hill to Darvell & Sons bakery. There I would wait for a hot, new, white loaf from the oven, which a girl or woman in a white coat would put in a paper bag for me. Unfortunately, the fragrance of fresh bread always proved too much for me, so by the time I had struggled all the way back up the hill, I would have picked a large hole out of the bottom of the loaf, hoping my mum wouldn’t notice!

There was very little frozen food in the 1960s. The only one I can remember was fish fingers. My evening meal was almost always either fish fingers, sausages or cold chicken, mashed potato or chips, and either peas, baked beans or fried eggs, all usually served with a slice of bread and butter and a glass of milk.

The toy shop was, of course, an Aladdin’s Cave of wonders! Ours, Litten’s Toys, was wonderfully furnished with wood-panelled walls and wooden cabinets. On the right hand side were all the items a girl could want, toy prams, bicycles, dolls, dolls houses etc., while on the left were bicycles for boys, models and a whole load of toy cars, all displayed in glass cases. Behind the serving counter, along the back wall, was a long cabinet, stacked to the roof with Dinky Toys, Corgi, and Matchbox boxes, all brightly coloured and begging to be bought! I remember the proprietor being a jovial guy, who never minded taking time to help you choose your purchase.

A special occasion would be a trip to Trewins in Watford. Trewins was a department store which had an even wider range of toys than Woolworths. My mum bought me a plastic toy friction-drive de Havilland Comet, which you could drag across the floor to wind up the clockwork drive and then release to let it run across the carpet on its own. These must have been the most popular present in Trewins that Christmas, because there was a whole table stacked with them. Later, my mum bought me a cattle truck, made by Budgie and still later, I bought a Corgi Ford Mercury Station Wagon.

A very special occasion, once every year, was a trip on the Underground train to Hamleys in London’s Regent Street. Hamleys proclaims itself the ‘Finest Toy Shop in the World and at about 7 floors over 2 buildings, it was a child’s dream. I reckon the ‘lost kids department’ (I kid you not, it existed) must have been very busy, because kids were always becoming separated from my parents. A Hornby train set ran right around one floor, but my favourite was a radio-controlled North American B-25 Mitchell that hung, motionless, from the ceiling. Every year I would look longingly at this beautiful, silver angel of the air, and wonder how I could get one. I am sure this is what led to my future hobby of first control-line model aircraft and later, radio-control.

Green Shield Stamps
Green Shield Stamps

If you had survived all this shopping, there was the long struggle back to the car – there were no shopping trolleys then – and the drive home. But this wasn’t always the end. There was often the stop at an Esso or Shell garage, where my mum would get Green Shield stamps in return for a certain amount of petrol. My mum would stick them in Green Shield Saver Books (or get me to do it, with a lot of licking) and collect them to exchange for things from the Green Shield Catalogue.

There were also coins and cards you could get with petrol, such as the Shell coins representing vintage cars, a collection I completed, and the Shell holographic World Wildlife cards, a set which I collected but never completed.

Shell Word Wildlife holographic cards
Shell Word Wildlife holographic cards

There is one last memory of pocket money that I want to mention. It may have been around 1970 that I first saw something entirely new in a small toy shop in a nearby town; a Tamiya kit of the Chieftain tank. Until then, model tanks, especially ones which were motorised, were not to scale and mostly pretty crude representations of the real thing. I was lucky in that my granddad was an experienced engineer and expert modeller, so he built me a Centurion tank, which was motorised. It ran for a few years, under constant repair, until either the motor of the drive wore out. I had long since lost it by 1970. But the Chieftain was not only a detailed scale model, but it could be motorised and even radio-controlled! I had to have one! I saved and saved, but it was £7.49, which was a lot of money for a child then. Tamiya was a Japanese company and this was the first of their models I had seen in the UK, so there was no alternative but to seek some kind of part-time work. I was lucky again here; my mother was a magazine editor, so she offered me work collating the magazine by hand. It was hard work but after about 13 weeks, I had enough money. I went to the shop with every last penny I had and guess what? The kit’s price had gone up to £7.99. Well, I was devastated, and exhausted. I must have decided something cheaper would be less work, because I never did buy the Tamiya Chieftain tank.

Decimalisation Day pack (this without 50p coin)
Decimalisation Day pack (this without 50p coin)

In about 1968, decimalisation was announced. This would make life much easier! Now, there would be 100 pennies to the pound and no more shillings. There would be a new 50 pence piece and no ha’penny bits, threepenny bits or farthings (which was worth 1/4 penny in old money). The old ‘d’ would be replaced with the ‘p.’ We were all excited with anticipation of the new world and had daily lessons at school using toy cash registers. On TV there were programmes about decimalisation almost every day, and when the day finally came in 1971, every child in the UK was issued with a small wallet, containing a mint example of each new coin. I think complete ones must be very rare now, because every kid I knew spent the lot within weeks; after all a pound was 2 weeks’ pocket money in those days!

What toys did you have in the 1960s? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

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