At some stage in my childhood I was given an autograph album. I was, oh, about nine years old at the time so the concept of collecting signatures from other people was quite new to me. It would never have occurred to me to try to collect the autographs of famous people - and even if it had, I wouldn't have had the faintest idea how to go about putting the idea into action. So I collected the autographs of my family and the neighbours - and, possibly, being very daring, my teachers.
Most of the people who agreed to donate a signature - and that, I suspect, was everybody I approached - wrote a few words or drew a small sketch. There were the usual things like, "By hook or by crook I'll be last in this book", only for somebody else to write below that, in letters that almost needed a microscope to read them, "Oh no, you won't!" There are two messages (I'll call them that for want of a better description) that I still remember. One, from an honorary uncle, was accompanied by a line drawing and read,
"Here's to the bird that sat on a thistle.
He pricked himself and it made him whistle."
The other was a cryptic message:
Y Y U R
Y Y U B
I C U R
Y Y 4 me
A bit like a dingbat, I suppose - or text messaging. I always have difficulty in working out those dratted things. I find that rather puzzling as for many, many years I regularly attempted (and frequently solved) the cryptic crossword in my fish-wrap of choice, the Daily Telegraph.
My sons had a bit more sense than I. They each collected about three signatures - of professional footballers, one of whom was an England international, another an Irish international - before their autograph albums were buried in a drawer somewhere.
(I'll post the translation of that cryptic message beneath the picture.)
This is Brighton Town Hall, a Grade I listed building that was built between 1830 and 1832.
YYUR = Too wise you are... I'm sure you can work out the rest for yourself.