THE '60s singer-songwriter Donovan - disillusioned with the pressures of fame and fortune - once made an album about his own carefree childhood.

It was a musical love letter for lost innocence.

His close pals The Beatles did it, too, in their autobiographic account of pre-Moptop mania with their homage to schooldays in Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields (Forever).

Like Pip, in Great Expectations, Charles Dickens said we could all get back to the place but not the time.

Sometimes with the tsunami of new technology, I feel like that, too, wishing for a time when we respected the golden rule - if it's not broken, don't try and fix it.

Already, I have seen some of my childhood heroes Top Cat and The Flintstones have fronted building society ads.

I hated The Thunderbirds' big screen movie re-boot.

I wanted my Tracey family with strings attached - no matter how, suspect.

Now Dennis the Menace from The Beano is getting the digital make-over treatment next month.

And some of the innocent magic is going with it. He's gone all PC.

His catapult is being replaced with an I-Pad and his dog Gnasher has had his scary fangs ... capped.

I am more animated than ever in wanting my childhood favourites to remain as I remember them.

Liverpool–born Tim Quinn - a one-time scriptwriter illustrator and editor of The Beano and Marvel Comics - believes it is a travesty.

Tim, on a book promotion tour in Sweden, told the Inferno: "DC Thomson and CBBC have taken a classic comic book character and drained every ounce of fun from his veins.

"He used to be naughty but nice.

"Dennis was a true role model for us growing up in the fifties and early sixties. The only similarity with today’s version is the name.

"Kids deserve better."

What you might call a 'comic con.' 


I HEARD it on the Jeremy grape-Vine ... the BBC 2 broadcaster and host of Eggheads is also a fan of classic comics.

Jeremy, one of the stars of the exciting Chester Literature Festival next month, would no doubt agree with us comic book purists.

Jeremy, who has listened to 25,000 phone-in calls on his Radio 2 show, has published his autobiography called What I Learnt.

What I've learnt from him is that he has bought a batch of original Whizzer and Chips and Whopper comics for his two daughters.


He says: "Today's comics just don't measure up to the ones I read as a boy."

Now Jeremy, who gives his much-awaited talk at the Chester Storyhouse on November 18, makes sure his daughters get a real-life original comic from 1970 – every Saturday morning.

Vine work, indeed, Jeremy.


WE are all daydream believers.

There's a touch of the Walter Mittys in all of us as we go off into daily self-induced zones according to a recent survey.

We spend a little over half an hour every day temporarily switching off.

Broken down, this comprises: one third while commuting, one third while we are at meetings or in the workplace and a final 10 minutes at home pondering while waiting for the kettle to boil or in conversation.

And what do we daydream about?

Holidays, winning the Lottery and - more recently - winning Strictly Come Dancing or shaking hands with Paul Hollywood on Bake Off.

History has proved that some daydreaming does have life-changing results.

Isaac Newton was sitting under a tree and wouldn't have been able to explain gravity had an apple not fallen on his head.

He had also invented the cat flap during a daydream break.

Now where was I?

Ah yes, taking a penalty for England in the 2018 World Cup.



Friday the 13th is on its wicked way.

Many superstitious types stay put in bed to avoid disasters.

Scientists put it down to a self-fulfilling prophecy - if you believe something bad will happen it will.

Like those people who claim bad luck comes in threes.

A real life Indian mystic once told me that when you start saying "It's one of those days" it doesn't have to be - convince yourself it will be plain sailing.

So I am pleased to confirm that Friday is also International Sceptics Day.

Or is it?


POETIC justice.

At last Wirral is celebrating the legacy of the Mersey Poets.

While celebrations take place to mark 50 years since The Mersey Sound was published, I felt Birkenhead could have made more of the fact that Adrian Henri was born there in 1932.

There should be a permanent literary monument to his considerable talents in the town.

For now, The Rathbone Studio in Argyle Street is having an exhibition called Look Now At It, which will run from October 20 to Christmas.

I hope it becomes an annual event.

Adrian and I shared many a bottle of red.

I know he would have giggled with delight at the very thought of an exhibition which encourages artwork inspired by the poetry from himself, Brian Patten and Roger McGough.

"I love Merseyside – while art galleries close in London they are opening them up at home", he once told me proudly.

And home was where his art was.

And finally The Royal Mail is making a first class attempt to avert a forthcoming strike from the Communication Workers Union.

Does this mean we will have a pigeon replacement service?

Peter Grant