Sometimes I surprise myself…

I’m working, if it can be called working when no money changes hands for my efforts, on a reprint of a book that I did with my late good friend Gordon Thorburn. At the time the book was called ” Some Missing Persons’ and was about rare breeds of British people. Well, given recent sorry stories of real missing persons I’ve ditched. that title and it’s now a little more positively titled: “Spotted!”

I am doing an Amazon paperback version which has been a journey of discovery through technical upload bollocks, but I am almost there. I’ve had the proof and am almost ready to put it out there. In addition to being available on there it is also going to be ‘serialised’ in Cotswold Life magazine, which is very gratifying too. I’ll be banging on about this quite a lot in the next month or so. Amazon also have the option to publish a hardback version which I’ll be delving into as well, but the hardback version has to have a few more pages. So I’m having to do these extra pages myself as Gordon unreasonably died in 2019. I’m hoping my extra pages live up to his original golden words, we’ll see. It would be good if no one spots the difference as when I write them I hear his voice.

One of the new ones is “Toy Shop Emresario” and this is where the drawing above comes in. I scribbled out this little rough for it yesterday and it sort of gets exactly what I wanted. First rough and cracked it! Low level view of the empire with model planes, pre made flying above and the place groaning with boxes of toys.

Here is the text for this drawing, this one written by me. I’ll be featuring Gordon’s brilliant originals in the weeks to come.

Toyshop Empresário

There are one or two still to be found, but never in large conurbations. You might find one in a medium sized town and it will have settled there for years serving the local population. Seaside resorts popular in the 1950s might just have one. Modern so called gift shops which are never called gift shops and have names like “Memories” or “The Locker” never sell toys, buckets and spades, or anything remotely useful and stick with sea washed wooden boards with legends written on them about prosecco, or old watering cans that hold no water.

The Emporium itself is large from the outside but on the inside it has narrow corridors between counters and product. Models made in the 1950s hang from the ceiling. Buckets and spades appear at the start of the summer season, even in an inland version of the store. Inside the look is a cathedral corridor of toys, small children have a tendency to look liker they have had a small seizure of pleasure when they reach this altar of toys, generally losing the recently acquired ability to speak.

The windows are full of procucts for sale, some that have been there for a number of years and have packaging that has yellowed a little from the sun. Airfix kits of ships and planes, the popular mosquito fighter bomber and an aircraft carrier sit there proudly unsold for the time being. Various Humbrol paints and glues are available. There are some model railway kits but this is not  specifically model railaway land.

The Emporer or Empress are generally to be found with a cup of tea and some nice biscuits by the small area of counter that is not covered in toys. There is no evidence of modern technology save for an ancient Casio calculator. The till is a wooden drawer. 

You can advertise your local services or wants in the door window “prime site” on a postcard so there are notices there, some that have been there for some years, with the legends pencilled out like:

Wanted: Someone to come and tidy my garden. Reliable and tidy work required. Phone 687564 and speak to Mabel.   

For Sale: Men’s bike. Sturmey Archer three speed, strong frame and panier holder £20 Phone 112943

In recent years the Emporium has had requests to branch out into games consoles but resists and keeps on stocking jigsaw puzzles and Cluedo. 


I’ll post the so-called finished version of this drawing in due course, as well as links to where you can buy the book.

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