When I was a young lad growing up in Belfast, books did not feature much in our house. We were a comics family, and my mother had a liking for People's Friend, The Weekly News and The Sunday Post, all of Scottish origin, although, to the best of my knowledge, we had no direct connection with Scotland. She bought the Irish News every day (heading first to the obituaries!) and, from time to time, the Daily Mirror.
We were allowed The Beano, The Dandy, The Beezer, The Valiant and others, and for my sisters, although I liked it too, The Bunty.
As kids, we enjoyed the Sunday Post for the cartoons including Our Wullie and The Broons. Wullie was a cheeky wee scamp and The Broons were a kind of sitcom family.
In recent months, I have rekindled my affection for the Sunday Post and I am delighted to say that Our Wullie is still there. He hasn't changed or aged a bit. A bucket is still his favoured form of seating. The Broons are as daft as ever. Are they still funny? Yes, but more amusing that laugh-out-loud.
Sundays in the 1960s were quiet days, some would say boring. A lie-in, breakfast, church, sweets and papers bought, lunch that was dinner, war picture or western on afternoon TV, Pick of the Pops with Fluff Freeman ('Not 'alf'), and trying to avoid the death knell that was radio's Sing Something Simple, a signal that the next day was Monday and school and all of that dull stuff. Oh, and The Clitheroe Kid was a big highlight as Mum cooked in the kitchen.
Now, as Sundays have become much the same as every other day, I sometimes feel nostalgic for the old days. Simpler times? I think so. Better times, as a result of the simplicity and being busy doing not much? I think so too.
Books came later, mainly through school, but I think I may have been in my early teens before books really caught my eye and imagination. I'm glad they did. But I'd like to think, like Wullie, that in many ways I haven't changed or aged a bit. Nonsense, of course, but there is something pleasant about recalling days of innocence, days long gone, but not completely gone from memory.