How I met Alf

I must have been about seven years old, living in Petts Wood in Kent. Bobby, Nobby and the lads had just put West Germany in their place, and I was sick in bed I think when my old man walked in with a big pile of Victors,Hornets and some other more yellowed pre-war comics he'd found in a jumble sale that morning.

Next few hours were a bit of a rite of passage as I'd been strictly a Dandy and Beano child up until then.  As a small kid who could run faster than most of his mates, with a mother born over the family chip shop and no known relatives to have been anywhere near a university, it wasn't hard to identify with Alf.  At that early age though the TotT stories made less impact than the more dramatic spitfire chases on the pages around them.  By lunchtime that Saturday I'd absorbed what I took to be important knowledge for my future adult British male life including some useful expletives in German and Japanese, the fundamentals of bayonet work, and the secret of how to avoid being trampled to death when faced with a 1000 charging buffalo - but with only one bullet left in your rifle.  By tea time I had avery stiff neck from lying on my side turning pages all day.

Remarkably, the subsequent 40 years have provided little opportunity to show off most of that learning.  Spending time in countries populated by those shifty-looking other races generally drawn running away in the face of the inately superior British has also - I must admit - raised doubts in me about some of the wider social assumptions in those pages.  Is it possible that Sir Cecil Rhodes had his head up his arse when he declared that being born British meant that you had 'won first prize in the lottery of life'?  All made sense in 1966.

Which all makes the Alf Tupper stories that much more special and timeless: because at 47 I still ask myself at key moments in life "what would Alf do in this situation"?

Dave Moore

New Zealand