Bloody love the Noakes.
It was a Saturday morning and there was me, on the bed with Grandma and Grandad. Grandma was trying to extract a drinkable cup of tea from the Goblin Teasmaid. It had been on the brew since 5:30am, and it was now 9am.
After examining the dubious cup of intensely brown fluid, and skilfully hiding it under the bed without my Grandma seeing, my Grandad said to me, he said,
“Boy,” he said, “Boy, what do you want to be when you grow up?”
And I thought for not even a second, and I said, “Grandfather,” I said (as I was probably about 5 and had a modicum of respect back then), “Grandfather, I wish to be John Noakes when I grow up”.
“Boy,” said Grandad, “you can’t be John Noakes, as John Noakes is John Noakes.”
“OK, old man,” I said (as my respect was beginning to wash away and this simple chat was getting in the way of my Luke Skywalker figure beating up my Princess Leia figure). “Then I shall be an astronaut.”
My Grandfather was a wise man, and said, “Boy, you will need to be good at maths to be an astronaut, probably best you stick with your plans to be John Noakes.”
The next time I saw my Grandad, he passed me an envelope. “Ah, boy,” he said. “This came for you.”
It was always exciting when post came to the Grandparents’ house, as it was bound to be another brilliant Star Wars figure, or a set of PG Tips tea cards, or a Golliwog from Robinsons jams. This, however, was most disappointing. It was a flat, A4 envelope of the type important, boring letters came in.
“Well?” prompted the Grandma, “Are you going to open it?”
Peeling back the inadequate envelope glue, and picking at the extra selotape that had been used to make the flap stick at least part of the way, I opened the envelope.
Inside was a black and white photograph of a man and a dog that I recognised from the television.
And it was signed, “John Noakes”.
I no longer have my figures of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, but you can bet I’ve still got that precious photograph.