On the face of it, it is only slightly less disturbing than it is bewildering. My friend in Australia (more than 100 miles away) sent me a clipping out of the blue from our hometown’s local newspaper (about a hundred miles away). How he got it first I don’t know, but I suspect our respective mothers.

Anyway. This picture is of me and my family doing an advertising campaign for said rag in 1971. Imagine my surprise and sense of foreboding. I vaguely remember the matching shirts my brother and me were forced to wear; they would have made Austin Powers wince. They haven’t aged well, let’s put it that way but I’m sure they were groovy, baby, at the time. I wouldn’t know. I was 9.

Disturbing enough, you might think; seeing long-forgotten images of yourself aged 9 wearing dodgy clothes coming back to haunt you. Oh no. It gets worse. Next to the photo and some text looking suspiciously like it was written by my mother was a “Where are they now” article somewhat reminiscent of a Spinal Tap movie. After the hype of that shirt and the hyperbole of the text, I could only ever disappoint in real life. Contrary to the article’s assertions, I never ran the BBC. I am not a best-selling author on the scale of JK Rowling. I do not live at Downtown Abbey.


This whole sorry saga raises several questions:

  1. How did this get to Australia and back again before getting to Berkshire?
  2. Does having a “Where are they now” article mean my life is now over?
  3. Is being forced to wear THAT shirt – an identical one to my 7 year old brother, mind – a form of child cruelty?
  4. Will it help me sell any books?