Thursday, 26 November 2009


As a boy, I collected many things. Probably the first were car numbers, although why I stood for hours jotting down the numbers of as many cars that passed me as I managed to read I really cannot imagine. A present of an autograph album got me started on that. I knew no famous people and there was no chance of me meeting any, so the autographs I collected were those of uncles and aunts, schoolteachers and neighbours. Most of the people who signed my book wrote a little verse or drew a sketch and I can still recall some of them. There was, of course,
"By hook or by crook
I'll be first/last in this book"
with someone else squeezing in before/after that "Oh no you won't!"

An honorary uncle wrote
"Here's to the bird
That sat on a thistle.
He pricked himself
And it made him whistle."
He (the uncle, not the bird) also drew a sketch of a thistle growing horizontally and a bird perched on it.

Then I think it was my grandmother who wrote
"Love many, trust a few.
Always paddle your own canoe"
which made no sense to me as a 7-year-old.

The forerunner of texting was, I thought, the peak of wit:

"Y Y U R
Y Y 4 me"

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