#17 Comic Relief

As a child, I loved my weekly comics and magazines. It all started with Twinkle “the picture paper specially for little girls,” and that was as twee as it sounds. Then I discovered Jack & Jill with its cutesy talking animals. Thank heavens I soon moved on to The Beano – sheer anarchy for kids.

But through my friends, I discovered the joy of girls’ comics with Judy, Tammy, Mandy and Bunty. These were populated with put-upon orphans and nasty stepmothers. I lived in fear of family tragedy from the ages of six to eleven. But the good always got their rewards and the bad their comeuppance.

The next stage was the young teen mags, with My Guy, Patches, Blue Jeans and the queen of the genre, Jackie. This one had it all: photo stories, fashion, make-up, how to get and keep a boyfriend, along with many warnings of the perils of going too far. Even kissing could lead to dissing and once you lost your reputation, life was over.

Then came Just Seventeen “everything a girl could ask for.” This blew my mind; the eternal quest for a boyfriend was laughed off the page and put in its proper place. It was goodbye to fluttering hearts, and hello to reality, career choices, and the real you.

Being nice to a boy meant no longer pretending to be a girly ditz who didn’t understand the offside rule in football. This came as a relief to me and my girlfriends, and probably the boys in our lives as well.

Just Seventeen gave you the facts of life, with no euphemistic crap creeping in. I swear the first time I saw the word penis in print outside of a textbook was in this magazine.

The moralising was toned down. With expert, but never patronising, advice given about everything from contraception to money management to dealing with bullies and angry parents. It even covered topical news issues!

Poor old Janis Ian’s protagonist in At Seventeen, imagine how her life would have been if only she had access to magazines not obsessed with notions of turning teenaged girls into beauty queens.

TMP30: Just Another Manic Monday!

Paula Light hosts The Monday Peeve – an opportunity to let rip and have a good old rant. There’s a weekly topic, but you’re free to vent about whatever displeases you.


Clicking on an article only to have it ask me to set up an account before I can read the wretched thing.

Scrolling through someone’s life history just to get to the on-line recipe. Sorry, love, I’m sure your grandmother was an amazing woman, but she’s not my family, and we aren’t friends (virtual or otherwise), so STFU.

Autocorrect – thank you for turning Kind Regards into Kind Retards.

The never-ending cycle of Windows Updates: Do not turn off your computer, do not leave the room, and don’t think of doing anything productive for the next half an hour.

The happy ten minutes faffing about in Settings to disable all the crap the updates re-enabled for me.

Followed by the Blue Screen of Death. Twice.

And this one really made my day…

Forgetting to wash my hands before going to the toilet after chopping hot chillies.

#12A – Between Floors

A fear of thirteen
Triskaidekaphobia
Is all Loki’s fault

Yup, that naughty trickster didn’t get an invitation to a party at Valhalla. As the twelve lucky gods sat down to dinner, Loki gate-crashed the bash. Causing mayhem and murder and a fear of all things related to the number thirteen.

If you were wondering, the fear of Friday the thirteenth is friggatriskaidekaphobia. But don’t panic: The next one isn’t until May 2022.

#12 The Full Shilling

Before 15 February 1971, the United Kingdom had a gloriously archaic system of currency divided into pounds (£ or l), shillings (s. or /-) and pence (d.).

This date marked a national decline in mental arithmetic skills as we shifted from fiddling with finance in multiples of 12 to multiples of ten.

We also lost a slew of fantastic words: farthing, threepence, sixpence, shilling, florin, half-crown, crown, all gone.

Before 1971, the basis of the British currency was 12 pennies (12d) to a shilling (1s) and 20 shillings to a pound. The mathematically inclined will soon work out there were 240 pennies to the pound.

If something cost three shillings and eight pence, it was written as 3/8 and pronounced as three and eight.

A threepenny bit (worth three pennies – duh!) was pronounced thrupenny and threepence as thrupence. You won’t be surprised to know that a halfpenny was pronounced something like hay’p’ny.

Weird word mangling aside, you try adding £1 12s 6d, £2 4s 2d and £3 15s 9d in base 12.

I think I need some poetry…

What will you give me for my pound?
Full twenty shillings round.
What will you give me for my shilling?
Twelve pence to give I'm willing.
What will you give me for my penny?
Four farthings, just so many.

Christina Georgina Rossetti

PS The answer, so I am reliably informed, is £7 12s 5d.

#10 Ten Commandments for Writers

Image credit: www.collectorsweekly.com

Remember to keep holy thy workspace.

Honour thy writing time: if thou doth not, no one else will.

Thou shalt not wait for thy muse to strike, instead thou shalt write one word and then another until thy page or screen is full.

Thou shalt keep by thy side a dictionary.

Thou shalt not abuse thy thesaurus.

Thou shalt not faff about on social media.

Thou shalt not plagiarise.

Thou shalt tell thy inner editor to get stuffed until thou hath written thy first draft.

Then thou shalt kill thy darlings and smite thy words of filler and fluff.

Thou shalt write every day.