How I met Alf 

 

I'm not sure of the exact year when I first met Alf. The first comic I read as a kid was TV Comic (anyone remember Beetle Bailey?) Then, when every self-respecting cool kid was into Thunderbirds, I swapped to TV21. When Captain Scarlet took over as the lead story, I changed allegiance again. I think it must have been my older brother (by six years) who was actually a Hotspur reader, who helped me switch, probably in 1967 (I would have been eight, he was fourteen). I never stopped taking the Victor after that (well, until I went away to college).

One of the most enduring and pleasurable memories of childhood is that absolute sense of freedom felt when just being able to RUN! Impersonating Alf Tupper gave an imaginary twist to what is one of life's greatest pleasures. I regret not being able to do it any longer (only middle age and flat feet I hasten to add), but that eight year old would run all the way into to town (downhill mostly) to the newsagent to collect my copy!

Alf Tupper was undoubtedly my favourite (though Braddock and Doyle were pretty good too). What was his appeal to the young reader? He loved chips. He was a winner. And even at such a tender age, I sensed that he was an outsider (though presumably because I had no real understanding of the notion of inside/outside). He was special because he was an Ordinary Joe who could do remarkable things, despite the most tremendous odds - spikes that would spike him, having to give his opponents a 100 yard start only because he was too late to be there at the gun, toffs in blazers - and his vocabulary belonged to another world. I still get strange looks now if I go "Coo!" And who was "(Bloomin') Ada" ? (which my younger brother, the Willoughby and Farmer to my Tupper, would pronounce as 'adder').

Whilst I can't say that he inspired me to take up athletics, his feats were as much a part of my childhood as Vision On, Thunderbirds, Belle and Sebastian and Captain Zeppos, Twizzle and The Singing Ringing Tree. My wife says I lived in a black and white world (she was born in Hong Kong where they must have had colour!) and the Tough of the Track was an integral part.

Sandy Cameron

UK