EDITOR’S PERSPECTIVE: Justice done after 45 years of hurt

SOME people have to wait a long time for anything approaching justice — just ask Nelson Mandela or that young woman who was unfortunate enough to spend the night with Prince Andrew.

SOME people have to wait a long time for anything approaching justice — just ask Nelson Mandela or that young woman who was unfortunate enough to spend the night with Prince Andrew.

I’m not comparing my misfortune to theirs, but it was pretty big.

It’s almost over now though. The main part of the unfair way in which I was treated in the summer of 1977 has been dealt with, but there’s still the matter of reparations.

I was an avid reader of the sporting comics Tiger and Scorcher (Billy’s Boots, Hot Shot Hamish, Nipper etc) and Roy of the Rovers (er, Roy of the Rovers) and sent in a frankly hilarious joke to the former.

It went like this:

Scene: A rugby union dressing room, the team (unspecified) disconsolate after suffering yet another thrashing

Dialogue: Player: “At least we won something boss!”

Boss: “What’s that son?”

Player: “The wooden spoon* boss!”

(* A mythical prize associated with a team finishing last in a competition.)

I wrote it down, placed it in an envelope, stuck a stamp on, addressed it and carefully dropped it into the post box, chuckling as I made my way back home, happy in the knowledge that someone in the office at IPC Towers would be roaring with laughter come Monday morning.

Next week’s comic... nothing. The week after... nothing. The week after that... I think you’ve got the picture by now.

Maybe it got lost in the post, the joke was read by some humourless idiot or there was something underhand going on in the awarding of the weekly £2 postal orders. Hmm, that would be it. It’s obvious now.

That feeling of rejection never left me and it was to be accompanied by fresh and unexpected bitterness in my thirties when I discovered my mate Nigel Sandford had once trousered a prize of similar value having been awarded the Tiger & Scorcher Reader of the Week prize simply for being ill and in hospital.

Ridiculously — I would never have done this — he still carried around the very evidence of his ill-gotten gains, which featured a picture of him allegedly wired up in a hospital bed, alongside his desperate begging letter and confirmation of his prize.

It didn’t bother me. “Well done, mate, richly deserved,” I said, cleverly disguising my disdain in a manner I had previously thought could only be achieved by a highly-regarded member of Equity.

Last week, however, his victory was made to look as minor as it always was, thanks to the wonder of social media and a connection with former Tiger and Roy of the Rovers editor Barrie Tomlinson, who posted a picture of the front page of one of the first issues I ever bought (well, my mum did), which prompted this conversation (picture below).

Oh yes, Reader of the Week Nigel Sandford. Have you seen this? READER OF THE YEAR!! (And I never usually allow more than one exclamation mark, but this warrants it) Not week!!!!! Year!!!!! Get in there!!!! ‘Ave it!!!!!! Etc!!!!!!!!!

Justice for my should have been Joke of the Week, which I may now allow to spread its wings on social media and give it the freedom it warrants.

But hang on a minute? Justice may have been done (no apology, not like the one the badly treated indigenous peoples of Australia received, though they did have to wait thousands of years so...) but what about my compensation?

Where’s my £2 postal order Barrie Tomlinson? Barrie?