Things To Make & Do

Great Britain


Never begin a sentence ‘When I was young…’ and never continue with; ‘we made our own amusement.’

However, when I was young we made our own amusement, from which something fell out of the Jamboree Bag of my mind; giveaways in British comics, one of which was a piece of cardboard folded from corner to corner with a similar sheet of paper inside it, folded the same way and glued at the outer edges.

When you brought this card down sharply, the paper inside turned outwards from the force of the air and made a noise like a gunshot. I have no idea what they were called but Buster and Beezer used to give them away all the time, and they’d probably be banned now.

As British comics giveaways went, they were paltry things. Stuff made of paper and tiny bits of plastic, cardboard ‘push-outs’ with tabs and slots – how easily amused we were. And no wonder; paper was scarce, resources were poor, but nobody explained any of this at the time.

Other paper peculiarities included a wheel with numbered punch-cut lines in it that you pinned in the centre then aligned and turned, drawing into the cut-out lines with a biro. When you had got to the end of the numbers and removed the wheel, you had a picture. Ooh, and magic colouring books, presumably now also banned for Health & Safety reasons.

But I’m not on the page that says how lucky we were. Can you imagine how exciting apps would have been for smart minds with nothing to do? I expect great things of the next generation, force-grown into clever thinking at an early age. The only fly in that particular ointment is the sharp fall in reading that’s occurring in teenagers, except for studying. Books are fast becoming the province of older people, who have more time on their hands.

But that leaves the Youngs to concentrate on coming up with great tech. Between writing bouts I regularly play games to empty my mind without dulling it, mostly puzzlers and platformers. It’s not surprising kids get stuck into phones at every opportunity; who wouldn’t have at seven?

Were we bored, though? I don’t think so, but I certainly observed my surroundings more.

12 comments on “Things To Make & Do”

  1. akikana says:

    …a slow day on the coal face. So found you this:

    And yes, the Spirograph is now subject to H&S…no pins in the box to secure the relevant rings.

  2. Vincent C says:

    I remember them! I believe the folded cardboard and paper toys were called bangers, if memory serves me well (caution, it rarely does nowadays). The noise was immensely gratifying. Such giveaways would be advertised in the preceding issue of the comic. It is difficult for me to expect anyone now to believe the tremendous excitement with which such giveaways were anticipated. I am sitting here with a big stupid grin on my face at the memory. Thank you, admin.

  3. Jo W says:

    Chris,you really know how to delve into childhood memories! Anyone remember the small circular card with two holes through which you threaded some string. Then by whizzing it round and pulling on the ends of the string the card spun round so that the pattern on it disappeared. Hours of fun and if you were using rough twine, deep welts cut into your fingers! What would the Elfin Safe Tea have to say about that,I wonder?

  4. snowy says:

    I’m popping out for a walk, info you don’t stricttly need, but it excuses such a brief comment.

    I also remember them as ‘bangers’, not that I ever got to play with them very long, confiscated after about five minutes usually or when they noticed the cat hanging from the lampshade, quivering.

    There are a lot of instructions on various sites on how to contruct these devices, but they are mostly of an inferior modern design. But digging a little deeper, I have found the proper version, a link is hidden under my name. [You will need a cornflakes box, a piece of printer paper and some glue.]


  5. Vivienne says:

    Don’t remember getting bangers: we had the Dandy ( because I think my Dad preferred it), but I do remember the colour-twisting circles. Did everyone else also used to make those ‘fortune telling’ devices: folded paper which opened forwards or sideways to show written Numbers and then, after a few choices, your supposed fortune or character? May also need to go for a walk to get over this.

  6. Jackie Hayles says:

    Bunty comic for girls had little cut-out dolls on the back page every week, with outfits which could also be cut out, to dress them with. They did not stand up, being paper rather than card, but I loved to collect them. Some of my college students recently made bangers with sheets of paper, so they still have an appeal in this perhaps more sophisticated age!

  7. snowy says:

    Well it works, but the glue needs to allowed to set overnight if it is going to carry on working.

    Fortune Tellers are good for young children, easy to make, crease a square to form a sort of Union Jack of lines. Fold corners to centre, flip over, corners to centre again. Open out the finger holes to finish. [Even more popular if used as a 4 pocket dish filled with different sweets in each pocket.]

    [I now just need to find: a hairgrip, a rubber band and a dress button to make the wind up thing to hide in an envelope.]

  8. chris hughes says:

    Oh dear! A reminder of a sad day at primary school when I – and several other fellow miscreants – bought the Beezer on the way in and were running round the playground flapping the ‘bangers’ behind unsuspecting heads. We didn’t last long before a teacher came out and confiscated them….and I was usually such a good little girl!

  9. Peter Dixon says:

    The other great cardboard giveaways were ‘Boomerangs’ which were actually two cardboard strips, slightly bent and then joined at the centre to make a cross. You threw them and they came back!

    Then the next stage of mayhem were cardboard guns that you could press out, fold, add a rubber band and fire matchsticks. For safety purposes they had to be spent matchsticks. Later they resorted to card circles for ammunition(such as Spiderman’s Spider Pistol in Wham! comic) but you could easily retro fit them to fire matches.

    Bullies could force you to stand still while they tried to shoot your eyes out during playtime. Happy days.

  10. Wayne Mook says:

    Yep I was going to mention the strip Boomerangs, Banger also known as poppers, and don’t forget the amazing cardboard masks (if you got the eyes wrong you could only look out of one eye, the masks they still do today. Spinner on a match stick sometimes with numbers on so you could play a game, usually a variant on snakes & ladders.


  11. Helen Martin says:

    Yes, we called them poppers, too, but they weren’t popular enough to get us into trouble. The fortune tellers are still to be found in our schools. Our version started out with the outside coloured in four colours, then numbers inside and then a fortune on the deepest inside. I have confiscated a few myself.
    Going to try Snowy’s set of instructions as I recover from a week’s trip to Portland Oregon. Can you believe 1500 model railroaders (more or less)? A group of wives brought sewing machines and made over 30 quilts to be supplied to hospitals, the police, and fire departments to give to traumatised and seriously sick children. Not bad for one week’s work. One set of clubs models with Lego bricks and their layout included a large size Tower Bridge and a building with King Kong on top.
    Oh, and Portland has trams, buses, and light rail trains. We rode on all but the buses.
    Cheers for all hobbyists!

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