It Came From Behind The Shelf No. 3
The Madame Tussauds Chamber Of Horrors Guillotine has been stuck behind my books in various locations since my father helped me to paint it in 1964, and it still works. The head is held on with a little peg that the blade hits, knocking the prisoner’s head into the wicker basket.
This was part of the Aurora range of horror model kits, and I had them all, my favourite being the Phantom of the Opera because I liked people who had masks. The model kits were incredibly popular but were discontinued after worries about their unwholesomeness. Little did parents realise what their children would get up to on the internet.
The coffin was a ‘birthday card’ from my best friend at school, Simon, and is an early example of his ability to engineer something from nothing – you pulled a threaded cord and the coffin lid opened, and the corpse sat up, unrolling a message. This is the kid his careers officer told to go into the army because there was no hope for him. Simon wanted to design cars, and had the good sense to stay with his dream. He designed the Atom, the most popular car ever to appear on Top Gear, and became wealthy by pursuing his dream.
I don’t know what happened to the careers officer, but I bet it wasn’t good.