Tuesday, November 02, 2010


I never has a Scalextric. Only kids who were slightly richer than us or slightly more spoilt got a proper Scalextric for Christmas - they were expensive. What I did have - for a while - was an ersatz version called "Battery Operated Race Car Track" or something similar. £6.99 from Woolworths. What "Battery Operated" meant was that if you put as many HP2 batteries as you could carry in both hands into a brick-sized plastic box, the cars would rush around the track for about ten minutes before you had to buy some more... not a easy task at 11am on Christmas morning.
The hand-held controllers seemed to have two speeds - "Stop", and "Fly off the track at the first bend". With practice you could make the cars amble round the track without flying off, and that was challenge enough - actual racing was pretty much out of the question... which was just as well because before long the wire brushes on the underside of the cars would fray and break off.
A day or two after Christmas one of my mum's friends was visiting, with her four-year-old kid in tow. I was on the upstairs landing avoiding them when she appeared on the stairs and saw me playing with the track. She called down to the kid: "Thomas! come and see the trains!" God, I thought. Women can be so clueless. I ventured to correct her. "They're cars."
"Oh... Thomas! Come and see the cars going round on the railway!"