When I was eleven years old, a new magazine for boys appeared in newsagents. Speed & Power was dedicated to "Cars, Planes, Ships, Trains, Science Fiction" and I was entranced by the last of these. Or, rather, I was captivated by the illustrations—the magazines were too close to the counter for me to read more than a paragraph before our local newsagent (whose name I doubt I ever knew) was ready with the Saturday paper and my copy of Valiant and his weekly quip.
"Morning, Mr. Netherlands," he'd say, smiling, although I don't know why because it wasn't funny. I would have taken my business—worth 4p a week!—to another establishment had there been another newsagent nearby. But there wasn't, so I put up with the same joke for probably a decade.
For a few months that went up to 14p a week until later in 1974 when I gave up Valiant as it had changed beyond recognition from the paper I had started buying five years earlier.
My pennies were now being saved up and spent on books. I began attending the Grammar School in town, which gave me access to the town library (far bigger than our local village library) and book shops like Clarke's which probably had a selection of 150 different science fiction titles on offer.
I had to dig out my copies of Speed & Power recently, and I thought that the run up to Christmas was a good opportunity to wallow in some nostalgia, so I'll be posting some of the superb science fiction illustrations of Mike Whittlesea over the next few days.