In the June of 1967 an advertisement appeared in the Fylde Gazette announcing the arrival of Batman and Robin in Britain. Along with the Batmobile, Adam West and Burt Ward had arrived on our shores to promote the second series of Batman….
Lewis’s Department Store was hot and muggy and a crowd of people were clamouring and shoving their way forward, trying to get a glimpse of the Caped Crusader. I was rake-thin, and so able to scramble between the legs of the awe-inspired crowd and reach the front with no problem. I was dumbstruck when I reached my exalted position and when I held out my hand Adam West shook it and pressed a small scrap of paper into my sweaty palm. I carefully unfolded the white square and gazed in adoration at the autograph.
I thought, Wow!
Then I was pushed and jolted back by the enthusiastic crowd.
observations: Declaration of interest: I know the author of this book, and he gave me my copy. But, that just makes me lucky, because otherwise I might not have come across it, and I was really impressed by it. It's a collection of short, linked stories about a boy growing up in the North of England in the 1960s, and the author does an amazing job of creating a world: the book is funny, nostalgic, honest, sad, touching, and really well-written. Anyone of similar age, background or geographical location will enjoy it. It’s a bit rough and ready, and a bit rude, and none the worse for that.
Mitchell describes his book as a ‘fictional autobiography’: in an amusing introduction he describes how we all borrow, steal and tidy up our memories:
Perhaps my first memory never happened the way I remember it and it’s just a fiction that my mind has developed and embellished over the years….- so he’s giving you fair warning. But it doesn’t matter, they’re good stories.
It would be hard to over-estimate the importance and popularity of the Batman TV show in the era he describes – it was comparable to the Dr Who fever of recent years in the UK. It went out on a Saturday night, and all the talk in the school playground on Monday was about Batman. I’d be interested to know if the TV show was as popular with the young people of the USA?
I clearly remember that Batman and Robin recorded a special, separate, public service announcement to go out after the show, warning children not to climb high buildings or try to leap from them. The adult me can only try to imagine what grim Bat-inspired events led to the necessity for this. And I can still do a fair imitation of Robin saying ‘Holy broken bones, Batman!’ and smacking gauntlet-ed fist to palm to warn us off. And perhaps they were right to warn us of physical danger: but if you want to find out what terrible things happened to this young man after meeting Batman you'll have to read the book...
The picture is one that Stephen Mitchell drew specially for Clothes in Books. He is a talented artist, and did lovely illustrations for the book, but this is an extra one he did just for us.
The book is available on amazon, as both a paperback and for a Kindle.
You can read Steve's blog, Travels with My Rodent, here.