Do you know what I miss at this time of year ?
Summer specials thats what.
Summer specials that you mum would buy at the paper shop weeks before your holiday at Cayton Bay, and then hide from you until you were in the car and on your way there, little did she know that you knew that she hide them underneath her woolies on the third shelf of her wardrobe and you’d been sneaking in there to read them every time the Bettaware man or the Corona Pop man came to the door and kept her talking while they tried to sell her something.
I know my mother was not especially bright, she was reknown for being a bit dim in fact, a fact that Ned and I realised from a very early age, “Hey, our mothers a bit dim isn’t she ?” we’d say to each other while we were still in our high chairs, but really, third shelf down, under the woolies, its where she hid everything, christmas presents, birthday presents, summer specials, everything.
The Beano summer special, the Dandy summer special, Topper and Beezer summer specials, and Bunty for our Ned, I’m kidding about the Bunty summer special.
It was the Jackie summer special actually.
Is it just the passage of time that makes me think the pages were much bigger than the normal weekly comics, is it just the figbox of my imagination that recalls that they had forty or fifty pages, shiny pages, much nicer print than the weekly comics, no I think it really was that way.
And finally on going-on-holiday day we’d be bundled into the car, an Austin A40 absolutely packed to the roof with everything that our mother needed to keep the family sustained for one week in Cayton Bay which basically meant that she had to empty the house of all its things that weren’t actual furniture and ram it all into the car, Ned and I weren’t the last things to be put into the car, we both appeared somewhere halfway down the list of things to not forget to put in the car for once we were both sat in the back seat our mother would then start loading jumpers, woolies, coats, wellington boots, hats, buckets and spades and anything from the house that wouldn’t be classified as furniture, on top of us in the back seat, if she could have got away with not putting me and Ned in the back seat at all in lieu of putting more stuff on the back seat then she would have.
“But MUM!” we’d both yell as the umpteenth woolie jumper would be stuffed on top of us, “I can’t see out of the windows now” and her answer would be to return to the house to bring more woolie jumpers out and pile them on top of us so that we’d disappear completely from view, “But MUM!” would come the muffled refrain, “HELP!, DAD!, HELP! I CAN’T BREATH!”
You just can’t have enough woolies when you’re going on a weeks holiday to Cayton Bay, “You never know” is all she’d say in a mysterious way that suggested that actually, she did know, she was in on some inner secret about just how cold it was going to be in Cayton Bay this August, lets put it this way, as a kid I was never bothered by sun protection cream, goose grease to keep the chill off in the sea maybe, but never UV protection lotion, I don’t think it had been introduced to Yorkshire at that time.
And then finally, the very last thing to be loaded into the car would be our summer specials, just as our dad was pulling on his string-back driving gloves and preparing himself for the 70 mile six hour journey, a journey that was plotted by word of mouth, tales of previous motorists who had travelled that way and found a shortcut through the fields in order to avoid the inevitable queue through the traffic lights in Malton, fifty years before the invention of the sat-nav and too tight to buy a road map that would only be used once a year our dad navigated his way to Cayton Bay by means of the earths magnetic fields and his unerring ability to make a 70 mile journey last for at least 200 miles.
But in the back seat, underneath a mountain of woolies we had our summer specials, and yes, we’d read them already, twice over when the Bettawear man and Corona Pop man had kept our mother talking at the door, but still, summer specials, a kid had no greater treat than the full collection of summer specials to go on holiday with.