Page 9 - November 2016
P. 9

or print. My ?rst experience of printing      adverts I saw in publications such as
was not a John Bull printing out?t: it was    Hotspur and Wizard.
when I saw a big red metallic machine
on the concourse of the Great Northern          Unlike the Beano and Dandy these
Railway Station in Belfast on one of my       were more grown-up comics with a lot
frequent trips home. If you put sixpence      of words in them and no pictures except
in it you were able                           the banners at the head of the chapters;
to stamp out a
number of letters to                                                      stu? like ‘I ?ew
make a word (such                                                         with Braddock’ or
as your name) on a                                                        ‘Blockbuster Brown,
long narrow strip of                                                      M.A.’ The most
aluminium ribbon.                                                         interesting character
This had small holes                                                      was Alf Tupper, a
at either end and the                                                     brilliant marathon
idea, presumably, was                                                     runner in the Tom
to attach it to your                                                      Courteney mould,
Louis Vuitton (or                                                         who was known as
cardboard) suitcase                                                       ‘The Tough of the
and be the envy of                                                        Track’. Between
your friends. My next                                                     running long
exposure to the Black                                                     distances he worked
Art was indeed the                                                        as a welder and
John Bull printing                                                        existed on ?sh and
out?t, which could                                                        chips. (No political
be used for printing                                                      correctness in those
concert tickets and                                                       days.)
address labels using
little rubber letters                                                       If you are still
that came attached                                                        reading this I
to each other in long                                                     know what you’re
strips.                                                                   thinking: “What has
                                                                          all this to do with
  This was fantastic, except that a serious                               printing?” Well,
problem raised its head. My new baby          those publications used to advertise small
sister, Carmel, was caught by my mother       Adana Printing Machines for about £3
putting the letters in her mouth along with   10s each, which was the equivalent of
the screws from my brother Joe’s Meccano      many a working man’s take-home pay
Set. Sic transit John Bull and Meccano . . .  after his insurance stamp of 9/11 had
Like many men of a certain age I secretly     been extracted at source to cover his
crave to relive the joys of playing with      journey ‘from the cradle to the grave’ via a
the toys of yesteryear, unburdened by the     lifetime’s blood sweat and tears.
inconvenience of baby sisters or lack of        In the second chapter of this article
cash to buy them (the toys, that is, not the  (which I hope the editor will ?nd room
baby sister). But this is now and that was    for before Christmas) I will outline how
then.                                         fate was to reach out to me from a most
                                              unlikely quarter and transform me from
  I tried to forget all about printing after  a well-balanced member of society into
that but was intrigued now and then by        a hopelessly addicted practitioner of the
                                              ‘black art’.

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