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Flogs: strangeness of the suburban child

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  • Flogs: strangeness of the suburban child

    I wonder, is there an inherent human tendency to create a mythos of rarely-glimpsed, usually small beings? I ask this as I've recently been recalling the 'civilisation' that my friend Dave Gardner and I created in the Horse-chestnut-girt alleyways of Worcester Park in the 1970's...

    To the rear of Dave's parents' house, there lay a narrow 'alley' of cinder and grit - typical of the 1930's houses of the area. This was bordered by overgrown privet hedges and trees, and close to the Heath Robinson 'car port' that housed the family Beetle (er...a VW, they weren't quite that weird) and abutted onto this alley was a big pile of sand. This, we decided, was the capital city of a herpetological (imagine bipedal salamander) alien race of two-inch tall beings called 'Flogs' - the name, coined by my pal, being derived from the (Daily Telegraph?) character 'FLook - by trOG'. Not a bad derivation for an eight-year-old.

    Anyway, we created an entire mythos and economic system for these things. The local clay soil yielded modelling material from which we made a wide variety of vehicles and siege engines (the Flogs were permanently at war with the more prosaic Vespa - the wasps that harassed us from their nest in the car port) and artillery that we helpfully 'launched' by attaching the projectiles to 'whippy' privet-hedge sticks and flinging in vast parabolae in the general direction of the dwellings of anyone we (and hence the Flogs) had fallen out with, usually with remote shattering glass as a result. Tut.

    This being well before e-mail and mobiles, the Flogs communicated with us via the McCarthyite-sounding 'Communies' - in fact starlings, whose mimicking trills and pips we of course could transcribe, like Morse Code.

    The religion of the Flogs was tied into the worship of twin fetishes, the so-called SASTEPS, or Sub-Aquatic-Suspended-Tubular-Exhaust-Pipes, a pair of motorcycle exhausts that we had dragged out of the Hogsmill river (some distance away) and hung from the branches of a nearby tree. Hum.

    There's a lot more to this, but that's the essence. I think our involvement with the Flogs began to fade after we inadvertently began to excavate cat shit whilst digging out the catacombs of their city in the sand. Dave Gardner now works as a highly-regarded horticultural journalist (a superb example of name-related metier if ever there was one) but I haven't yet asked him if he remembers all this.

    Does anyone else have a similar tale of mini-people? I guess the Flogs were a type of neo-fairy, but it's interesting. Don't know why I'm telling you all this, really...just had to get it off me chest.

    I'll tell you about the 'Alley Wars' and the Bunker one day... :?

  • #2
    On a vaguely related vein, one of my nurses tells me of the Institute she created at the age of six; 'Mandy's Bee Hospital'. She would pick rose petals to make 'beds' and 'sheets', and use rose-hips for bolsters. Bees would be hospitalised following a good soaking with a plant-mister, rendering them waterlogged and non-aerodynamic, then after a brief sojourn at the MBH they would dry out and buzz off, producing a cathartic sense of medical achievement in the Hospital Director, with little inconvenience or discomfort to the patients.
    And no MRSA, either.

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    • #3
      Cor! All I had was toy soldiers. I still think these had something to do with my tendency to combine unlikely groups, since, of course, Red Indians, Zulus, Indian cavalry and English hussars would be at odds with cowboys, modern German soldiers, Somali archers and so on. The landing on Venus via glider of mixed forces of cavalry was another influence, I suspect, when Mounties, Cossacks, Cowboys, Indians and other cavalry were sent to fight the Mekon.

      Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
      The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
      Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


      Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
      The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
      Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

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      • #4
        Toy soldiers are brilliant. We re-enacted a pretty good generic copy of Land That Time Forgot in my back garden using 1/72 Airfix German Infantry and British Paras, British Museum (Natural History) dinosaurs, a couple of 'Weetabix' free toy Mammoths and (another Airfix) 'Dogfight Doubles' Bristol Fighter. Oh, and a Type VIIB U-boat that had a pipe attached to it, and could dive and surface by virtue of the operator sucking or blowing. We had 'cavemen' too, but I think they were the ubiquitous Injuns. It was great. We had a sump-oil volcano in the rockery that we lit and spewed very acrid lava over the flowerbeds. Tolerant parents.

        I've still got a little ankylosaur half-buried like a fossil in a lump of concrete, a relic of the above extravaganza. It somehow got buried in the mix that Dad used to lay the foundations for the (never built) garage. We broke this up fifteen years later and excavated the poor diminutive dino. I also dug up a WW2 lead Wellington Bomber from under the Hydrangea in the front garden.

        Digging up stuff is great, too...

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        • #5
          My pride and joy were Airfix Romans and Ancient Britons. Actually, the Romans were a bit annoying as their shields get falling off, and also they appeared to be wearing skirts. Consequently, history was rewritten and the Britons always won.

          Later on, WW2 re-enactments with 1:72 scale models and plots inspired by the Commando war library and second-hand Sven Hassel books were very much in vogue. Landscapes were formed by pillows beneath a 'candlewick' bedspread. As there were no rules as such, occasionally real warfare would break out, on occasion leading to a considerable loss of military hardware on all sides, which got stamped on.

          Warfare of one type or another filled up a considerable part of my childish imagination. How did I ever grow up to be a peace campaigner?

          PS Anyone read the 'Toys of Peace' by Saki? I know a couple just like the Bopes! http://manybooks.net/pages/sakietext98toypc10/5.html
          \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

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          • #6
            Ooh, yeah - bedspread battles. I still remember using 'Britains' metal armoured vehicles (including Centurion tanks, Scammell transporters, a Daimler armoured car and a Dingo scout car vs. Russian SU-100's) on my bedspread on holiday in Dorset. I still have remnants of the three-hundred vehicle 1/72 armoured force my friends and I spent years building for weekend-long dice-and-rulebook wargames...>removes anorak<...Hey, listen: I still have three crates of unmade tank kits in the loft...

            I'm not a bit like that, really. I'm well cool, me.

            Anyone got a Humbrol Matt Olive Drab?

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            • #7
              Saki was great...I haven't read 'Toys of Piece', though...know where I can find it? Is it in any of the collections? Very child-oriented, Saki.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Mikey_C
                inspired by the Commando war library

                How could One fail to be inspired by the Commando war library!

                'twas a cannon of literary greats such as "the hated breed", "the phantom zero" and "the last of the gunboats"

                English soldier dies:Urghhh!
                German soldier dies: Himmel!
                Japanese soldier dies: Aieeeee!
                Italian soldier dies: Mama-mia!

                the scots were all called jock, the Irish paddy and the Welsh Taffy (funny thing is, when I listened to my grandad's war stories, all the scots WERE called jock, the Irish paddy and all the Welsh Taffy!)


                My Parents were rather disturbed by me reading them, but even at that age I knew that foreign chappies weren't really like that at all ;)

                Some of the art work was amazing! though the books have vanished to some long forgotten jumble sale I still remember the pictures in the "Phantom Zero" where a flight of American planes were shooting down barrage balloons at night with incendary bullets. The effects the artist managed to convey with two colours and only block light were spectactular. bet they got paid peanuts for doing them too.
                \"It got worse. He needed something to cure himself. What? he asked. M-A 19 he answered.\"

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                • #9
                  Commando and War Picture Library - some of the shading in those strips was fantastic. And the hardware was pretty accurate (important :lol: !). There were some good stories in Warlord too - 'Schaft in Stalingrad'; 'The Secret Files of the Luftwaffe'. Top stuff. I think you can still get the little war books. Good to see the fascists of political correctness haven't totally blandified our children's reading! :roll: In Australia in the 1970's, the PC's managed to erase all explosions, muzzle-flashes and other references to violence off of the Airfix boxes: 'cos, of course, the Tiger I tank was designed as a school taxi...

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                  • #10
                    I still have a couple of platoons of my seasoned toy soldiers ... mainly 1960's to 70's American Civil War soldiers of Britains "Herald" and "Eyes Right" series. Some are pretty battered, but they're all prepared to go at any enemy's throat if I let them, the blood-thirsty plastic bastards!

                    My friends here who had no clue about the American Civil War (I had spent years in overseas ...) took the grey guys for Austrians and the Bluecoats for Prussians, or at least Bavarians.
                    They were hard to get, and whenever my dad was on a trip to UK on some mission he really went there to go to Hamley's for me. Later I sent him to record shops to get me the newest Beatles or whatever, because it was always months later that they were released here.

                    And I loved painting tartan designs I would make up for each Waterloo period Scotsman of the Airfix 1/32 range. Plastic was a great material for you could melt figures so that they were beautifully twisted corpses etc. :lol:
                    Google ergo sum

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Perdix
                      Ooh, yeah - bedspread battles. I still remember using 'Britains' metal armoured vehicles (including Centurion tanks, Scammell transporters, a Daimler armoured car and a Dingo scout car vs. Russian SU-100's) on my bedspread on holiday in Dorset. I still have remnants of the three-hundred vehicle 1/72 armoured force my friends and I spent years building for weekend-long dice-and-rulebook wargames...>removes anorak<...Hey, listen: I still have three crates of unmade tank kits in the loft...
                      I think this chap makes a fortune selling all the old stuff, look:
                      http://www.uniquecollections.co.uk/feature.ihtml
                      Google ergo sum

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Perdix
                        Saki was great...I haven't read 'Toys of Piece', though...know where I can find it? Is it in any of the collections? Very child-oriented, Saki.
                        There was one story in particular. "The Unrest Cure" I think, remember that?
                        Google ergo sum

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Perdix
                          Saki was great...I haven't read 'Toys of Piece', though...know where I can find it? Is it in any of the collections? Very child-oriented, Saki.
                          It's actually the title of an original collection - and is on the link I posted. "The Penguin Complete Saki" is a must have, though.

                          MA-19 - you forgot the French soldier; "Sacre Bleu". It is astonishing - these books are still published - a piece of our childhood remains (they finally shut down the sweetshop I used to visit on the way to Infants / Junior School last year - now where can I go for my 'rhubarb and custard' sweets?

                          The warping of plastic soldiers into twisted corpses remind me that there was a passing craze for crushing dinky toys in the hinges of the metal school gates and even setting fire to them to create the realistic wreckage of auto disasters and pile ups. How JG Ballard ('Crash') would have loved that!
                          \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            All I seem to have is a variety of Britain's field guns, nothing more modern, I fear. I do have an early non-Britain's Royal Sussex kneeling soldiers who will fire a matchstick (or some of my treasured Britain's ammo) through his rather overlarge rifle (actually, to be accurate, gun)
                            which has a metal spring attached as the firing mechanism. I refused to write War Picture Library, Battler Britain or any WW2 stories, I fear, because I didn't want to depict our former foes in such stereotypical terms. Call me a pious bastard, but I got called a Communist for refusing, for instance, to call Germans 'squareheads'. I never did understand the logic of the Fleetway heirarchy... Even when I did Dogfight Dixons, however, they introduced such shrieks and phrases into the scripts anyway. So I gave up and went back to Zip Nolan.

                            Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                            The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                            Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                            Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                            The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                            Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I did NOT write 'The Toys of Piece' Did I? I did, didn't I? Bloody Hell...

                              I found some of the original yellow Swingfire missiles to go in the launcher of my Dinky CVR(T) Striker ATGW vehicle. No-one's safe now :twisted:

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